When is the time to change from Scrum or Kanban to Scrumban?

Scrumban is a combination of the best of two agile frameworks: Scrum and Kanban.

This combination, created by the developer and practitioner of the Lean structure, Corey Ladas, was born from the need to manage certain workflows in a more complete way and with an evolutionary process that goes from Scrum to Kanban.

Thus, we were able to reconcile the prescriptive characteristics of Scrum with the continuous improvement capability of Kanban to meet demands that go beyond software development.

It is important to start this reading already understanding that none of the structures invalidates the efficiency of the other, better or worse. You have to understand when to use each one of them, because what changes are the project’s needs.

So, in today’s article, you will see when to use Scrumban to extend the power of managing your projects and when it is time to use it replacing Scrum or Kanban using GitScrum’s Scrumban. And GitScrum has the perfect Scrumban board for your team and your organization!

What is Scrum?

According to the Scrum Guide, written and provided by the framework creators themselves, Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, Scrum is a framework for developing and maintaining complex products.

It is agile’s most popular framework, used to make teams work collaboratively and effectively, solving problems in an organized manner while delivering new products with more creativity and productivity.

Scrum is a lightweight and easy-to-understand framework, the idea is to continuously organize concrete deliverables.

Some features of the Scrum:

  • Scrum makes up of frequent and prescriptive processes;
  • It has defined events. Sprint, Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review, and Retrospective Sprint;
  • There is no hierarchy, but a definition of roles to assign the responsibilities of each one. Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Development Team;
  • The project divides into work cycles called Sprints, which can last a time-box of one, two weeks, or, at most, a month;
  • The Backlog (to-do list) goes through prioritization and the team defines what it will be able to deliver at the end of the sprint;
  • Scrum cycles don’t finish, that is, new tasks are only added to the queues at the beginning of the sprints. If more things come up it is necessary to wait for the sprint to finish;
  • Teams are often small and self-managing;
  • There is no limit to the number of actions performed in the DOING list.

What is Kanban?

While Scrum mainly supports development project flows very well, Kanban is a visual management mechanism where the team works collaboratively signaling the status of each task, queue, item, or process through cards.

Kanban is focused on the team and on alleviating people’s overload by creating a consistent process. You can suit it for the production, maintenance, and control of workflows.

Through this system, it is possible to have more organization and management power, which enables continuous improvement in recurring processes.

Some of the Kanban features:

  • Kanban is composed of cards that advance through columns of a board to illustrate the current status of the activity;
  • It’s an ongoing process. There are no sprints in it, if new items appear during the flow, they can be prioritized, it is not necessary to wait for the end of a cycle;
  • Kanban lists are flexible. It is possible to invert, remove or add items whenever necessary;
  • The WIP (Work in progress) list is limited as the principle of kanban is to finish more tasks. rather than starting multiple things at once. The recommended maximum in the “DOING” list is two items;
  • Activity lead time should be measured and optimized to be as short as possible;
  • Kanban is very versatile and adaptable, it can be used on several occasions, but it must reflect the reality and maturity of the team;
  • It’s an evolutionary process. It is necessary to measure, evaluate, monitor, and optimize constantly to evolve more and more.

Why do you need Scrumban?

We’ve seen what Scrum and Kanban are and the differences between them, but when we make comparisons like this, some people may feel that one might be better than the other when, in fact, both are effective in specific situations.

For example, Scrum is a great gateway for experienced teams that need to develop new products, with a backlog already defined, but what happens after production?

Scrum alone can present difficulty in meeting all the needs of managing a flow from start to finish. Meanwhile, the principles and practices present in Kanban can fill these gaps and give a broader management potential to the flow.

Thus, we can say that Scrumban is an evolution of scrum, which marks a transitive process in which a Scrum team starts using the lean practices of Kanban.

This usually happens when the team faces difficulties with its workflows and needs something more advanced, in terms of management, which is generally linked to the principles of Kanban.

While Scrum is more of a ready-made recipe, Kanban is more dynamic and fluid. Therefore, bringing these two concepts together results in Scrumban, which follows the Scrum instructions to stay agile, but adds the continuous improvement nature of Kanban to promote the improvement of actions and the team as a whole.

When to use Scrumban?

You might consider using Scrumban in some situations:

  • When Scrum limits in terms of managing processes, steps, workflows, and so on;
  • Projects that need continuous improvement;
  • Stages that precede or follow the production phase in project development;
  • Support processes, handling problems and bugs.

5 Tips for Implementing Scrumban

We are nearing the end of this article. If you want to implement Scrumban, I recommend reading Corey Ladas’ work entitled Scrum-ban to better understand the practices and delve into the topic.

As a kickoff I leave here 5 tips for those who want to start using this agile framework in their projects:

Start from where you are

It is not necessary to recreate your processes from scratch. Just keep what you already do with Scrum and build up your Scrumban practices little by little, as it makes sense. This is an evolutionary process of smooth and continuous changes.

Transform yourself constantly

It’s important to know that when the evolution process starts, it doesn’t end. Evolve gradually and whenever you need to, as this way the process and the team become increasingly effective. This generates several benefits such as improved product quality, reduced waste, increased customer satisfaction, process optimization, and team improvement.

Identify the most important Metrics

Metrics are extremely important to identify opportunities for improvement. You need to measure team productivity and deliverability, but you can start small. Identify what’s most important in your process and start by measuring at least one metric, then add as needed.

Get politics out of people’s minds

In any type of implementation, be it scrumban or any other system, the form of work, policy, or rules must be documented and communicated clearly to people.

Speaking of Scrumban, what are the criteria for a frame from one column to another? It’s important to have these requirements documented somewhere that users can easily access so they’re not just in the minds of the participants.

Have cadences

Unlike Scrum, which has well-defined and interdependent cadences, Kanban has less formality in this regard. That’s because it’s more fluid and allows you to replenish items on lists at any time. Scrumban, in turn, has the cadences, but it is important to formalize them so that the team has direction, clarity of priorities, and vision of the delivery moment.

Is Scrumban the right tool for you?

That’s it, we can’t think that Scrumban is the answer to all our problems. The agile community has several frameworks. So, the best we can do is to know each structure and look for the best solutions according to our needs.

Scrumban also focuses on the continuous improvement aspects of Kanban, encouraging short kaizen events like training sessions. Also,  knowledge sharing, and waste elimination as options for learning opportunities and process improvements.

Scrumban is best for maintenance projects and service companies or for Scrum teams that have a hard time completing their tasks within the sprint. The WIP limits will help them focus, and bucket-size planning will help them achieve their release goals in time.

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