Kanban vs Scrum: Brief Guide through the most common differences

Published on 13th September 2019

There are numerous Agile frameworks created with purpose to improve product development. Among them the most popular and the most represented globally are Scrum and Kanban. Scrum framework is well-known and most commonly used, but Kanban becomes more and more popular. We will discuss why.

Both Scrum and Kanban strive to increase quality along with productivity and bring efficiency in the organization. However, there are many key differences between them, and we will discuss more on this further. So, let’s start!


What is Kanban?

Kanban is a method and Agile framework that enables teams and organizations to visualize their work, and to handle bottlenecks and waste. It is great for teams that have lots of incoming requests that vary in priority and size. Kanban helps visualize your work, limit work-in-progress and improve efficiency. It aims to eliminate waste activities, making continuous workflow.

What is Scrum?

Scrum is an Agile framework that emphasizes teamwork, accountability and iterative progress toward a well-defined goal. Also underlines collaboration, functioning software, team self-management, and the flexibility to react fast and adapt to emerging business changes. The three pillars of Scrum are transparency, inspection and adaptation.



Kanban roles

One of the biggest differences comparing to Scrum. Kanban does not prescribe the roles, but it recognizes two roles which exist, these are Service Delivery Manager and Service Request Manager. Instead of single team in Scrum, tasks and responsibilities shared multiply teams. Having specialized team is important.

Scrum roles

Scrum has well-known and define roles: Scrum Master, Product Owner and Scrum Development team. They are not optional, unlike Kanban, Scrum roles are a must. Scrum team shares tasks and responsibilities within the team only. Cross-functional teams are important to have in Scrum.


The workflow in Kanban

The main goal of Kanban is to achieve continuous flow. That’s why there are no time restrictions, it is not based on duration, it is instead based on efficiency. It is possible to have time restrictions, but optional.

The workflow in Scrum

Scrum is time-boxed framework. The iterations in Scrum are fix in duration, knowns as Sprints, and these iterations can be 2 to 4 weeks long. The work has to be done within this define period.



Kanban planning

In Kanban there are no mandatory requirements for estimation, and it is usually free of big planning. Kanban is open to making changes during working process, new items can be added. It means there is less rigidity and things can change frequently.

Scrum planning

Scrum depends on planning, starts with sprint planning and ends up with sprint retrospective. There are various meetings present in Scrum which help the team to be on track with tasks, goals, priorities, and learnings from previous sprints. Team divides work into small user stories at the beginning of each Sprint.


Commitment in Kanban

In Kanban commitment is agreed based on capacity of the teams. All members of Kanban team commit to finish their work before they start with a new one. Still, Kanban is very flexible with the commitment.

Commitment in Scrum

In Scrum it is a requirement for teams to commit a specific amount of work. That’s why teams are using time framework, Sprint, to see how much work can be done and then try to finish all tasks by the end of sprint.


Kanban ceremonies

Kanban recommends meetings, but they are not mandatory. There are several meetings present in Kanban, such as: Daily Meeting, Replenishment, Delivery Planning Meeting, Service Delivery Meeting, Operations Review, Risk Review, Strategy Review.

Scrum ceremonies

Scrum meetings are obligatory for all team members, Daily’s are typically held in the same location and at the same time each day, while others are before and after Sprint ends. They are: Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective.



Kanban Board

The Kanban is all about visualizing your work and maximizing efficiency or flow. Kanban teams use Kanban Board as a work and workflow visualization tool that enables to optimize the flow of work. For Kanban Board are most commonly used sticky notes on a whiteboard to communicate status, progress, and issues. Kanban Board help teams to follow the workflow, and to register where are their bottlenecks in progress.

Sprint Backlog

Sprint Backlog is a sorted list of the new products or features, changes to existing features or infrastructure changes, same as other activities in order to achieve a specific goals and outcome. It derives from Product Backlog, an ordered list of everything that is known to be needed in the product. The most common items of Sprint Backlog are user stories. During Sprint it is not possible to add new items or to make changes, except in case of business needs, market conditions and technology.


So, these are the most common differences between Kanban and Scrum, roughly said. There are many more things and questions should be mentioned, for example when and why you should use them, what are your benefits, or who gain the most using these Agile frameworks?

You may expect the sequel soon, and if you are willing to learn more about Kanban, then we suggest you great upcoming training, because it will discover much more benefits for you and help you to understand how to use Kanban properly as a proper business solution. Stay tuned! 😊