Kanban vs. SCRUM: What’s Best for your Startup?

Running an innovative startup requires consistency and a deep-rooted commitment to building a great product. Part of that commitment involves choosing the right methodology for your startup. Your project management methodology paves the way for how you achieve your goals, measure your progress, and handle your setbacks. Most often, the best option for startups involves an agile process. An agile process is centered around the ability to: 

project manager
  • Deliver great products on a continuous basis
  • Quickly adapt to changes
  • Shorten turnaround times for code delivery
  • Enforce a higher level of collaboration between development and business teams
  • Promote sustainable development

The two methodologies highly relevant to this agile approach are Kanban and Scrum. Both methodologies are strongly implemented in the startup world, and can help you transform your business quickly. And both incorporate DevOps principles and technology to drive growth (check out jFrog’s DevOps toolset for details on various platforms). Here’s what you need to know about deciding what’s best for you: 

What is Kanban?

Kanban is a visual-oriented methodology process that uses “cards” to represent tasks and “boards” to represent categorical projects. Cards can be moved around the boards to indicate its progression through your pipeline. The overarching goal here is centered on the concept of getting things done in the most efficient and productive way, eliminating wasteful work and unreasonable requirements. 

With Kanban, the entire workflow is transparent and easily digestible. And furthermore, it’s built on a foundation to achieve goals in as little time as possible, without compromising quality. Kanban is best for smaller teams that want a flexible, continuously evolving approach to delivery. Kanban is also designed to be an adjustable project management system, making it ideal for growing companies that are still learning which processes and approaches are best for them. 

What is Scrum? 

Scrum is a methodology built around delivering a minimum viable product (MVP). Collaboration, customer feedback, and consequent iteration all play a major role. For many companies, Scrum bridges the gap between Kanban and Waterfall methodologies. Scrum is highly collaborative, and centers around the ability to build something, try it, and incorporate feedback—time and time again.

“Sprints” are the cornerstone of scrum. A sprint is a time-based goal that usually lasts less than one month and encourages a repeatable work cycle. Scrum sprints are determined in a Sprint Planning meeting, where tasks are identified and items are moved from the product backlog into the sprint backlog. Daily Scrum meetings—also called standup meetings—bring the team together to discuss the project status, challenges, and solutions. 

Scrum is great for starting going through major changes and evolutions, and who need a way to scale and rework relatively painlessly. There is more of a formal process involved with Scrum, which can be great for growing teams that prefer structure over speed. 

Understanding the Differences

Now that you know the key components of both the Kanban and Scrum approaches, it’s important to understand their differences. Agile approaches can seem similar in nature, but there are several areas where they differ, and analyzing them can help you make your final decision about which methodology is best for your business. 

Team Roles

The way both methodologies approach team roles differs. In Kanban, there are no predefined roles for team members, compared to Scrum, which assigns designated roles. In Kanban, everyone assumes the collective work and jumps in as needed to achieve tasks and move forward, while in Scrum, roles like “Scrum Master” are used to define timelines and manage the flow of information. 

Measuring Productivity

How productivity is measured is important. In speed-focused Kanban process, cycle times are the standard measurement. Cycle time refers to the amount of time it takes to complete a task from start to finish, and this metric is gold standard in the revolving-door world of Kanban. On the flip side, Scrum measures productivity through the effectiveness of its sprints. Sprints are laid out concurrently, which means that the success of Sprint B, for example, relies on the success of Sprint A. 

Making Changes

In Kanban, changes can be made at any point during the process. This allows for repeated iterations and continuous improvement. On the other hand, mid-stream changes are strongly discouraged during Scrum sprints to avoid a domino effect across foreseeable sprints. 

Deliverables

Due dates play a much smaller role the Kanban process. Processes and products are delivered on an as-needed basis, and those due dates can change at any point in time depending on the how the current board is flowing or altered. Scrum deliverables, on the other hand, must be ready for review by a particular date in order to stay on track across the entire organization. 

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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