Project management & leadership | July 28, 2022

Guide to Scrumban methodology 

Scrumban is a hybrid of Scrum and Kanban and offers a smart combination of both frameworks for the benefit of the user. But what exactly does it mean? What are the differences between Scrum and Scrumban? Read the article to find out.

   
Providing the Structure of Scrum and on-demand planning in Kanban

Many companies, especially software development teams, decide to employ agile methodologies, which are flexible and speed up project execution. For years, Scrum has been the most popular such methodology among development teams, albeit it has certain limitations. And so does Kanban, which is considered an intuitive tool for simple project management.

Agile project management frameworks

Before software development practitioners signed the Agile Manifesto, agile working methods were used in the manufacturing industry. Given the number of frameworks available, the question arises: does the world need another agile framework? The variety of approaches makes it easier to find a solution tailored to your project. Over the years, the following frameworks have emerged: 

  • Lean Management – designed to improve efficiency, reducing so-called waste by introducing the ‘pull’ system (the delivery of a sufficient amount of material at the right time and place).
  • Scrum – a flexible and iterative approach to project management. In Scrum, a team needs to estimate tasks and deliver the working part of the product within a given cycle time. 
  • Kanban – an agile method that utilizes Kanban boards for workflow visualization. 
  • Scrum@Scale / Scrum of Scrums – a scalable technique to bring together multiple teams cooperating on a complex project. 
  • Enterprise Scrum – bottom-up agile transformation at a hierarchical level.
  • Agile Portfolio Management – developed to manage a comprehensive project portfolio. 
  • Spotify Model – a startup approach, the main goal of which is to learn from mistakes through experiments. It requires fast decision-making and a swift product implementation process.
  • Disciplined Agile – focused on individuals. It leaves the choice of the best agile methodology to accomplish tasks to team members. 
  • SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) – for working in large teams engaging many employees (e.g., several hundred people). 
  • LeSS – Large Scale Scrum – designed for projects involving many small teams working on one Product Backlog.
  • Nexus – focused on establishing connections, fostering communication and removing dependencies in complex projects. 
  • Extreme Programming – an agile software development framework suitable for projects with frequent changes in requirements and workload. 
  • Crystal – enhances one of the agile values, namely “individuals and interactions over processes and tools”.

For the purposes of our article, we will focus on Scrum and Kanban – the frameworks which Scrumban draws upon. Let’s revise the very basics. 

Should you be interested in Agile project methodologies, read our complete guide!

Scrum vs Kanban

Scrum 

Scrum is based on 3 principles: Inspection, Adaptation and Transparency. Scrum teams, consisting of the Development Team, Scrum Master and Product Owner, are guided in their work by 5 values: Commitment, Respect, Courage, Openness, and Focus. This working model is characterized by the occurrence of Sprints (1-2-week iterations) in which a self-organized team delivers small but functioning parts of the product. Scrum assumptions and best practices are included in a Scrum Guide that helps Scrum teams use the potential of a Scrum mindset. Scrum includes meetings such as Sprint Planning, Daily Standups, Refinement, Retrospection, and Sprint Reviews, which help teams organize their work and track its progress.

Scrum users

Who is Scrum for? 

Scrum is designed for companies in which small teams work on simple products and there are no complex dependencies between teams and their members. Scrum will help to speed up the product delivery and improve its quality.

Kanban 

Kanban (Japanese: Kàn, Sign; and Bǎn, Board, Paper) is an agile method that allows you to gain a better insight into processes and workflows through visualization using Kanban boards (divided into sections, e.g. To Do, In Progress, Completed). Kanban does not include responsibilities and meetings but allows you to incrementally develop the product. The main objective is to minimize the number of tasks whose status is listed as “in progress” (for this purpose, you set a WIP limit in Kanban).

A work item in Scrumban - Scrumban also uses cards on the board

Who is Kanban for?

Kanban is the right choice for teams working on simple projects that want to identify and remove bottlenecks to improve their work.

Scrum and Kanban = Scrumban 

According to the latest annual “State of Agile” report, one-tenth of respondents declared that a Scrumban approach is used in their organization. This hybrid concept was introduced by Corey Ladas, who had worked using Lean and Kanban methodology. Scrumban was developed to overcome certain limitations and lead the way to transition from Scrum / Kanban to an even more flexible approach. By combining both approaches, you can take advantage of the opportunities they offer without restricting yourself in certain areas. Scrumban should facilitate project work and increase efficiency. How can this be achieved?

A work item in Scrumban - Scrumban also uses cards on the board
Scrumban methodology

Scrumban methodology – assumptions

Scrumban vs Scrum 

  • The Scrumban framework assumes iterative work on a product, but it does not differentiate the concept of Sprints. 
  • Scrumban teams gather at a Daily meeting, with an option to add more meetings if needed.
  • Scrumban does not include responsibilities such as Scrum Master or Product Owner. However, the project might be supported by a Project Manager. 

Scrumban vs Kanban 

  • In Scrumban there is no limit to the size of the team, and there is no specific number of people involved in the work (as opposed to a Scrum team consisting of a maximum of 12 people).
  • Visualization of work with Scrumban Boards.
  • Unlike Scrum, Scrumban does not include a timeboxed iteration, which is why there is no need for Scrum-like estimation.

Benefits of Scrumban methodology 

Instead of making the transition from Scrum to Kanban, you can take advantage of a methodology that combines the best practices of both. Scrumban is a hybrid agile approach that offers:

  • More flexibility compared to Scrum 
  • A reduction in ongoing tasks by taking advantage of visualization
  • Continuous improvement through constant insight into processes 
  • Intuitiveness – Scrumban is intuitive, and does not differentiate specific roles and responsibilities, so you can start using it straight away

Disadvantages of Scrumban methodology

  • A relatively new approach, not as widely described as Scrum 
  • There is no list of good practices / tips or a guide to Scrumban
  • No timeframes, which may make it difficult to keep up with deadlines

When can we use Scrumban?

Scrumban can be used in any project. But that doesn’t mean it will be a good choice for everyone. It’s like in the case of the agile approach – it works for a certain type of project, while for others Waterfall is a better option. Whether a team successfully implements Scrumban depends on many different factors: the team’s Agile maturity, its experience and, above all, the details and complexity of the project. Like Kanban, it helps to reduce work in progress and get things done.

Summary

PROJECT MANAGEMENT

What are an Agile tester's responsibilities within a Scrum Team? Read the text!
There are many factors that will determine if a team can be successful in implementing Scrumban. This includes the team’s maturity, experience, and most importantly, the scope and type of the project. Scrumban merges the best agile practices that can help with project work and make your team more productive. Also, it will help you to prioritize tasks, and improve the flow of work leading to overall process improvement. Scrumban uses visualization techniques, similar to the Kanban board, and proposes an iterative approach like Scrum. Unlike Scrum, in turn, it does not include specific roles/responsibilities. Remember that in agile development it’s up to the team to choose the best method of working in the end.

To find out more about Agile frameworks read: Agile Scaling frameworks