Kanban Vs. Scrum: Which is Best for Your Team?

Most businesses are adopting Agile frameworks for project management because the principles provide an iterative approach. Kanban and Scrum are some of the popular Agile approaches that can help your team accomplish goals.

This article looks into both approaches to help you decide which one best suits your team.

Kanban Vs. Scrum

Both Kanban and Scrum can be used for data exploration. In fact, they can be used concurrently. However, each approach has its strengths and weaknesses.

Kanban

Kanban is a defined strategy for optimizing the flow of work through a process. The system makes it easy for teams to collaborate and address inefficiencies throughout a project.

Multiple industries have adopted Kanban, and it has become a popular choice for most teams in and out of IT. In a recent survey, Kanban had 12% popularity and emerged as the third most popular choice for data science projects.

Ideally, its popularity stems from the fact that it’s among the earliest Agile frameworks. Also, teams can enjoy the simplicity and ability to visualize the workflow.

Kanban can be more effective for your team since its less rigorous approach offers high flexibility. Like most processes that use the Agile framework, Kanban divides work into small segments, thus helping your team achieve continuous delivery.

Benefits of Kanban 

High flexibility –enables teams to tackle tasks in smaller segments instead of taking a batched approach.

Visual –Kanban boards are simple and visual, thus making it easy to communicate and quickly demonstrate the work in progress.

Highly adaptable and lightweight –it doesn’t prescribe definite timeframes, meetings, or roles. Therefore, it’s easy to manage Kanban since teams can choose other additional processes.

Minimal culture crash –Kanban is barely invasive, and teams can blend in seamlessly without the need to learn a radical system. Unlike other processes, Kanban faces minimal organizational and cultural resistance.

Challenges and Weaknesses of Kanban

Lacks defined deadlines –Kanban doesn’t motivate teams to beat strict deadlines; thus, teams may work on a single task longer than necessary. With this process, the team needs lots of discipline to ensure timely task completion.

Lacks defined customer interactions –Kanban is inward-facing and lacks a defined outward-facing process necessary for customer feedback. As such, customers may be less motivated as opposed to when using other agile approaches.

Column definition –it’s unclear how teams should define their boards when using Kanban.

Scrum

Scrum is a framework used to handle projects and structure work in smaller tasks called sprints. The approach provides a uniform methodology that breaks huge tasks into multiple stages to make projects more adaptable to change.

According to a recent survey, Scrum had 18% popularity and emerged as the second most used process for data science. However, it’s not exclusively used for all data science processes. Most data teams use other processes to manage the Sprint Backlog.

While it’s a comprehensive process that promotes solid values, people tend to deviate from the framework. For instance, teams that use Scrum but lack a Scrum Master tend to avoid most of its protocols or ditch them all together.  However, Scrum protocols can help teams implement some excellent practices.

Benefits of Scrum 

Facilitates Empirical Evidence –Scrum process is rooted in execution principles based on known facts. Teams can execute a plan, take notes on what works and what doesn’t, and then optimize the project based on the results.

Embodies regularity –Scrum has rigid timeframes that facilitate a regular flow of work.

Intrinsic customer focus promotes customer value and makes it possible for stakeholders to offer regular feedback.

Constant improvements – Teams can inspect their performance after every sprint. Therefore, they can learn from each cycle and make improvements.

Facilitates autonomy – Scrum provides teams with the autonomy to govern tasks. This makes them more productive, engaged, and happy.

Accountability and sense of urgency –Scrum is based on transparency and accountability where teams have to demonstrate their work progress. With constant deadlines, teams are motivated to keep up.  

Challenges and Weaknesses of Scrum

Despite having numerous benefits for teams, Scrum comes with some challenges.

Cultural resistance –The Scrum process bypasses the hierarchical reporting approach used in most organizations. Teams that are used to receiving direction from their superiors eschew the self-directed nature of Scrum. Also, employees fond of the siloed work models may find it hard to work in a team, and managers who are used to micromanaging teams may be hesitant to adopt self-management models.

Strict timeframes –While it’s a valuable aspect in urgent projects, timeboxing may not be very popular with some teams. Specifically, the exact time your data team requires to solve a problem may be uncertain due to the many variables involved in data science.

Steep learning curve –Scrum framework can be challenging to master and requires significant commitment to internalize.

Meeting overheads –Scrum meetings take up at least four hours per week, not to mention the time required to manage backlogs.

Conclusion

Both Scrum and Kanban help your team achieve the same outcome but in a different way. Therefore, there is no objective winner between the two. The most appropriate approach depends on the project you’re working on and how your team is structured.