Project management,

Scrum vs. Kanban – differences and similarities in project management methodology

by Veronica 23/06/2020

One of the key elements of software creation and development is the choice of methods of operation. The two most popular agile methods used today are Scrum and Kanban. The effectiveness of each of them depends on the context in which it is used.

What is Scrum?

There are over one hundred different methods and tools under the common Agile label. Currently, the most popular is Scrum, which is used by over 60% of organizations. Scrum is a framework method that organizes the process of building complex products.

Keypoints of the Scrum:

  • Divide the organization’s resources into small, cross-functional, self-organizing teams.
  • Split the whole workload into small, specific tasks, giving them the right priority and estimating the amount of work needed.
  • Divide the time allocated to a given project into specific iterations (usually 2-4 weeks).
  • Discuss and optimize the priorities and time spent on specific tasks.
  • Optimize the entire process by organizing a retrospective meeting after the project.

To sum up, Scrum is used to build complex products, mainly software. It allows to explore new business or technological ideas, minimizes the risk of experimentation. It works great when one wants to maintain the constant pace of product development that can’t be planned in detail at the start. Instead of dedicating the big task of building, a large product to a large group of people, focus on small teams working in short iterations that provide minor parts of the final product.

What is Kanban ?

Kanban is a workflow management method designed to visualize work and maximize efficiency. The word Kanban comes from Japanese and means boards or a signboard. Using the idea of ​​the board you can divide work into the three groups “to do”, “in progress” and “done”, which can be described at various levels of detail. The system should depend on the needs of the organization. It allows to present, both, very simple and extremely complex processes, involving many teams. The board can connect different teams focused on one task.

Keypoints of the Kanban:

  • Visualize the workflow – divide the main tasks into smaller tasks, write each task on a separate piece of paper and place them on the board and use the columns with the appropriate names to determine at which stage of work the specific task is.
  • Assign a specific limit of work in progress (WIP) – how many tasks can be performed simultaneously.
  • Specify the execution time. Optimize the entire process so that its implementation time is as short as possible and as predictable as possible.

To sum up, Kanban helps to increase the efficiency of a given process. It is also well used in the world of HR, marketing, call centers or legal department – wherever the order of work is simply a queue of topics to deal with.

Differences and similarities between Scrum and Kanban

First of all, these two methodologies share a common goal. Of course, it is to deliver the final product in the most effective way possible while continually improving the development process. Both attach great importance to continuous improvement, work and process optimization. What’s more, both methodologies focus on a very visible workflow, which keeps all team members up with tasks.

There are also few differences between Scrum and Kanban. These differences can be divided into several categories.

Roles and Responsibilities

In the Scrum methodology, team members have predefined roles and a dictated schedule of activities. On the other hand, in the Kanban methodology, the team has no preliminary line. Team members are interested in cooperation, especially when someone receives too many tasks and should be helped.

Project completion

Scrum uses the concept of sprint: the time limit for a given task. Sprint has a fixed length and lasts from one to four weeks. During this time, the product must be finished and ready for review. On the other hand, Kanban provides products and processes on a continuous basis, depending on current needs.


Changes to the Scrum methodology are not recommended during the sprint. In contrast to Kanban, which allows you to make changes during the project, for continuous improvement.


The Scrum methodology measures progress using sprints. Each sprint is parallel to each other so that the next sprint relies on the success of the previous one. However, Kanban measures progress by the time it takes to complete one full project.

In summary, Scrum is recommended for teams with stable priorities that do not change over time. On the other hand, Kanban works best for projects with very different priorities.

Scrum and Kanban are process tools because they help to work more efficiently, instructing what to do. However, one cannot choose a better or worse tool. One’s choice should be considered and researched to understand the differences and similarities. Acknowledging these differences is key to choosing the path that will work best for one organization.