Scrum vs. Kanban Board: Which One Is Better for Building a Project Plan?

Six Sigma, Lean, PMBOK — there’s a lot of project management jargon thrown around that you may find confusing and unclear. However, there are a few methodologies that come to mind when you’re looking to create a project plan.

But first, it helps to know that any good project plan provides 3 things:

  • Transparency - Everyone involved knows the status of each moving piece and can jump in when needed.
  • Consistency - Essential to assuring quality and sustaining the expectations of the stakeholders.
  • Documentation - All updated information is centralized and distributed accordingly.

We also know a project never goes according to plan, so every team must maintain a certain amount of agility to keep up with project shifts and delays. That’s when these handy methodologies come into play.

Project management methodologies are meant to provide teams with a framework or theory to base their project planning around. They all have their advantages and disadvantages, but a couple of methodologies provide an advantageous way to visualize your project plan.

Both Scrum and Kanban fall under the Agile methodology umbrella, making them good frameworks for breaking down larger, complex projects into manageable chunks. Let’s take a look at the differences between the two, and how each can aid project planning.

What is a Scrum Board?

Scrum, originally created for software developers, is based around time-limited work periods, called sprints, which normally last around 2 weeks. During this time, the “Owner” of the project will typically be responsible for hosting “standups” or daily meetings to make sure everything is on track. The “Scrum Master” is responsible for the process itself, making sure the team is upholding the values and best practices of Scrum. And finally, the team members are ultimately responsible for working through those sprints.

Procurify, a purchasing software startup in Canada, found that they saved 70% of their time by planning their sprints using a collaboration tool. They now have visibility into one another's work and can collaborate across different teams. "By having a central tool to manage the whole process, we're able to actually see what individuals are doing and if it completely matches our company goals," says Eugene Dong, Co-Founder and CTO of Procurify. Check out their full success story below:

Pros:

  • Mistakes can be rectified and potential problems avoided.
  • Changes are easily accommodated due to short sprints with constant feedback.
  • You can change development at any stage as the process increases in flexibility.
  • Clients get access to a transparent process, which allows them to trace the entire procedure and measure individual productivity.
  • Scrum methodology is often budget-friendly due to its simplicity.


Cons:

  • It’s iterative in nature, so it requires continuous feedback from the team to improve the process.
  • This process requires a lot of trust within the team. If governance is too strict, the entire project can fail.
  • It’s not easy for a team member to leave during the process.
  • Scope creep might occur if no deadline is provided.
  • It doesn’t come with any predicted time limit and cost valuations, which can result in several sprints.
  • There is a greater pressure on team members, and they have to spend a large amount of time on project development.

Convinced Scrum is right for you? Build your Scrum board in Wrike for free.

What is a Kanban Board?

Unlike Scrum, Kanban is more to-do-list based and less time based. Kanban provides a workload-centric method of managing multiple deliverables across a team without overwhelming any one member.

“Kanban is meant to be an enhancement to existing organizational processes for continued improvement, while not totally changing organization's existing systems,” says Joe Garner, Project Manager at Computer Design & Integration LLC.

Traditionally, Kanban involves a planning whiteboard or chalkboard, where statuses such as “Planned,” “In Progress,” “In Review,” etc. are all listed out. Then, each deliverable is written down on a Post-It and placed under the proper status. As the deliverable moves through the stages, -the Post-It moves on the project status whiteboard.

Scrum_vs_Kanban_Board_Building_Project_Plan_1.jpg

Pros:

  • It helps push work that often gets “stuck” through to completion.
  • It’s great for separating work based on assignee.
  • It’s ideal for deliverables highly dependent on their status.
  • It’s easy to set up and implement anywhere.
  • Workloads are visible and easily malleable (especially with Wrike’s drag-and-drop feature!).
  • You can quickly check and evaluate productivity across your team.

Cons:

  • Since there are no time constraints, deliverables can move slower.
  • Outdated Kanban boards can derail productivity.
  • If you’re using the traditional whiteboard organization system, it’s difficult to associate actual work with the board itself. (Wrike can help with that.)

Don’t risk someone erasing your entire project plan off the whiteboard. Try Wrike for free so you can rest easy, knowing your plans are accessible (and still around) at all times.

Which project plan board is better for organizing a project?

The answer to this depends on the type of project you’re planning. But here’s a brief analysis:

  • For one-off projects that have many variables and uncertainties, are more deadline-oriented, and involve a larger team, Scrum is a better project plan board.
  • For projects that you’ve done before or are recurring, involve many deliverables, and require keeping a close eye on individual capacity, Kanban is a better project plan board.

Regardless of the project you’re tasked with, change is inevitable. Embracing an Agile methodology is the first step to improving collaboration, refining consistent processes, and having that flexibility built in, so you and your team are equipped for whatever is thrown your way.

Now that you've landed on the right methodology for the job, learn how to write a project plan here

For further reading on the fundamentals of project planning, check out:

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