What You Need to Know About Scrumban

Scrumban is an interesting concept that is halfway between Scrum and Kanban — two different Agile methodologies for managing projects. It was initially created to help project teams transition from Scrum and Kanban. But, many teams discovered that Scrumban enables them to capture the best of both worlds.

Below, we’ll discuss what Scrumban is, which elements it takes from Scrum and Kanban, and how it might benefit your projects. 

What is Scrumban?

The word “Scrumban” is a combination of Scrum and Kanban. So, the best way to explain Scrumban is to provide an overview of the two different frameworks and then discuss how they’ve merged to create Scrumban. 

What is Scrum? 

Scrum is an Agile framework that consists of one to four-week sprints. It is designed to help small self-organized teams consistently deliver concrete products or outcomes. 

The Scrum team manages a list of overall project requirements (called the backlog) and determines which ones will be accomplished in the next sprint. After this has been determined, the sprint is “locked,” and any other work must be completed in a future iteration. At the end of each sprint, the outcomes are reviewed, and the plan for the next iteration is created or revised. 

What is Kanban? 

Kanban is less time-based than Scrum. Rather than focusing on sprints and scheduled deliveries, it focuses on to-do lists and spreading work out across the team. Instead of limiting work by sprint, it’s limited by workloads. In other words, at any time, you can change which tasks will be completed next as long as you don’t increase the number of assigned tasks.  

Kanban uses a board format to help teams visualize the project workflow and understand what stage tasks are in. It was initially managed using post-it notes on a physical board, but there are now software options that provide virtual Kanban boards

How does Scrumban combine the two frameworks?

So, what is Scrumban? Scrumban seeks to find a middle ground for teams who find Scrum too rigid and Kanban too flexible. 

Scrumban typically uses the Scrum backlog approach of planning, prioritizing, and allocating work. But, it uses Kanban boards to help visualize the planned work so teams can quickly see task progress and pinpoint bottlenecks. Some Scrumban teams maintain the use of sprints, while others choose to abandon this Scrum requirement.  

Scrumban often uses Kanban rules around the amount of work that can be in progress at any one time. Using this method, a team will start a set amount of tasks at once. Then, other work is only initiated when some of those activities finish, so there are never more tasks in progress than the number the team deems it can handle at once. 

Introducing the Scrumban process

Agile is all about flexibility and adapting to the needs of your team and project. Therefore, not all Agile teams practice Scrumban the same way. 

Here's a typical Scrumban process flow:

  1. At the beginning of the project, the team creates a project backlog of all known requirements, features, and outcomes. New requirements are added as they are discovered.
  2. Before each iteration or sprint, the team creates a WIP (work in progress) list of items from the backlog. These are requirements they want to accomplish in the upcoming iteration. 
  3. The WIP is placed in a "to do" column on the Scrumban board.
  4. When a team member is ready to take on a new task, they take something from the ‘to do’ column on the board and place it in the ‘in progress’ column. Once complete, they will move it to the ‘done’ column and take on a new piece of work. (No one completes more than one task at a time.)
  5. If the number of activities in the ‘to do’ column gets too low, a planning meeting is held to add more items to the WIP. So, for instance, if your team has only five tasks left, a planning meeting may be held to add more, even though the iteration isn’t over yet. 
  6. Throughout the project, teams attend daily standup meetings to discuss what they’ve completed in the last 24 hours, what they plan to do in the next 24 hours, and any problems they’re facing. 

Scrum vs. Kanban vs. Scrumban: which to choose?

When considering whether to implement Scrum vs. Kanban vs. Scrumban, it’s important to realize there’s no one right answer. Different frameworks work best for different projects and teams. 

Scrum is often the best option for projects that are expected to develop and deliver physical products consistently. If you have a customer who wants to see progress every few weeks, Scrum may be a better framework for you. 

Kanban is typically the best approach for projects providing a service or that have continually changing priorities. For instance, if you’re providing support for a delivered software, Kanban is a great option. 

If you have a project that has both product and support features (such as providing new software and a maintenance package), then Scrumban may be the right choice. It enables you to bring together the strengths of both separate frameworks. 

Whether you’re using Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban, or any other framework, the right project management software can help make your project a success. Wrike supports multiple frameworks so that each team can embrace the one that works best for their current project. Check out a free trial today.

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