Kanban Vs Scrum: A detailed comparison

Kanban and Scrum are two of the most popular agile methodologies. In this article, we compare these two methodologies to determine which one is better suited for your company’s needs.

Nov 20, 2023
Kanban Vs Scrum: A detailed comparison
Every organization has its own way of working. This is reflected in the organization’s processes, their tools and the way they evolve over time. However, Kanban and Scrum are two of the most popular agile methodologies.
In this article, we compare these two methodologies to determine which one is better suited for your company’s needs.

What is Scrum?

Scrum is an iterative and incremental process for managing the work within a flexible, sustainable product development framework. Scrum uses empiricism to develop software in small manageable chunks called “sprints” that are typically one month long with each having its own predetermined goal which evaluates the delivered value of the project.
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Flow of Scrum

Scrum has a special place for focus on emergent design, technology and workflow. It originally centers around the “matrix” which is made up of different tasks and backlogs as well as deliveries needed for meeting business/user needs and features.
Scrum moves quickly, with sprints lasting two to four weeks and well defined start and end dates. Because of the limited time period, complicated activities must be broken down into smaller tasks, allowing your team to learn more rapidly.

Release methodology

Once the project has reached its end date, it is time to prepare for a roadmap of what’s next. The team divides the work into two different types: epic (finished and ready) and user stories which are used as documentation in order ensure that functionality is delivered on time.

Scrum roles

There are three specific roles in Scrum: product owner, team and developer.
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The product owner defines the business goals and vision for the project while also completing a formal analysis of both quantitative data as well as qualitative feedbacks from users in order to put forth an initial roadmap for completion.
The development team is responsible for breaking down large tasks into manageable sub-tasks with each one having its own due date which will ensure that functionality gets completed successfully.
The team is responsible for providing feedback and suggestions to the product owner in order to ensure high-quality development.

Key metrics

The typical key metrics of a project in Scrum is the “velocity” which represents how many points of functionality are completed per person per two weeks. There is also an analysis at the end of each sprint called a “burn-down chart” which shows how much work remains and when it will be completed.
Scrum has been used to successfully deliver software and client-server applications such as those for Google and Adobe. It can also be used in other businesses where there is a high risk of delays, disorganized projects or the need for small teams that are provided adequate resources. Scrum's advantage over traditional project planning methods comes from its focus on continuous productivity rather than just working towards an end date.
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What is Kanban?

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KanBan board or kan-ban literally means "cardboard cards" in Japanese. Kanban is a process improvement method that encourages the use of visual signals to understand the current workflow as well as to guide decision-making.
It uses acting inputs to visualize workflow and optimize processes across a company through an ongoing system improvement effort that develops with experience. The key aspects of Kanban include dividing work into manageable elements, minimizing waiting time between successive elements
to accelerate workflow, and balancing work across multiple teams.

Flow of Kanban

The use of signals to communicate with employees and optimize work processes is the key principle behind Kanban's approach. These signals can consist of a horizontal line, symbolizing loose workflow (this could be because there is no buffer between items) or a vertical bar chart that indicates blocked flow--a backlog has been filled up. If an employee knows the process inside and out, he might return his card in order to waive blocking.
The best part about Kanban is that it allows for custom columns according to your team's individual workflow. My team tends to work on the basis of shipping content. So, we decided to make four custom columns: Backlog > In Progress > Content Ready For Publication > Published.

Release methodology

The continuous release methodology creates a visual representation of the workflow that uses markers and signs to communicate how products will be released.
The business has recently shifted towards continuous delivery for faster release cycles. Unlike sprint, updates are released whenever they are ready.

Kanban roles

Kanban board uses broad terms (e.g., "designer," "tester") to allow for variation in role clarity across teams and departments. Roles are coordinated by the team lead, who is responsible for facilitating all relevant decisions that have implications on the workflow, providing continuous improvement feedback from stakeholders to all members of his or her flow, and keeping participants informed about new developments related to their areas of responsibility.

Key metrics

Some key metrics for measuring progress with Kanban are:
  • Cycle time (how long it took to complete each stage): how fast users could review requests that came in after their work had gone through the waiting queue
  • Pokedex completion rate (% of total requesters who were successfully engaged)
  • Retention rates (how many new users within the last month derive value from our Kanban system)
  • Net promoter score(NPS)
One thing to keep in mind when considering these metrics is that your Kanban board will change from company to company and industry to industry depending on principles
of your company, business and process.

Similarities between Kanban and Scrum

Kanban is a very popular project management methodology. Scrum is a different methodology of project management and it has a lot of benefits like Kanban does.
There are many differences between the two, but they both have some similarities:
  • They both follow the same principles and practices.
  • They both have similar software tools available for them.
  • The processes in which they follow are quite similar to each other.

Kanban vs. Scrum: What’s the difference?

While both traditional scrum and kanban boards can be used to effectively visualize elements that have been planned, started, or finished in an organization, the way they organize their content differs.
Let's dive in and compare them on various levels

Scheduling Cadence

While Scrum was put together to facilitate sprints, one of the key aspects in which it excels is its scheduling format. It has a set date for every step on the board (e.g., user stories) and requires all activities to be done according to that timeline, with no exceptions possible. All activities have specific start and end dates (in other words “I will do this task by August 15th at 8pm,”) and while a Kanban board is just as structured, it allows for more flexibility in scheduling due to the 'Just In Time' mentality.

Ease of Flow vs Step-based System

Scrum makes most sense when you have very detailed work assignments that need to be completed by milestones with short feedback cycles (e.g., creating prototypes). It also works best when there are strict deadlines up front. Otherwise,
Scrum can be challenging to maintain proper flow (e.g., if someone who designed a prototype for you leaves the company). Kanban is better suited for an environment where no set dates exist and change happens frequently, rather than predictable deadlines coming up in cycles.

Philosophy Regarding Change

Scrum believes in "change at the pace of value delivery." If a team needs to make changes on the fly, they must do it by renegotiating their commitment with management. The Kanban methodology guides teams to take an “if and when needed” mentality towards change methods, as opposed to Scrum's 'no excuses' philosophy that feels threatening for many managers who feel tied down.
The most significant difference between Scrum vs Kanban is that Scrum uses a fixed-length sprint, and not timeboxes. This means you will have to abandon your scaling method altogether in order to stay on the same schedule with Scrum.


Scrum has two phases: planning and executing work which are based on user story cards added at irregular intervals (aka "sprint" ). Kanban has one phase only: working/running projects continuously where it contains a “feedback loop” for alignment.
Scrum has a human-centric approach where stories are milestones of work to be delivered and completed with deadlines, a managing product owner, sprint planning meetings as well as sprint retrospective discussions/meetings which is more effective than using the Kanban method that requires all team members to feel included in every decision process throughout the project lifecycle.
The Kanban methodology encourages more transparency between teammates who will now have to know the tasks and deliverables which could possibly create more discord among them.

Updates within iterations

A scrum team should not create any new stories during the sprint, as it is already set by the product owner in the initial planning meeting. Additionally, there are no time frames for updating a kanban board as it limits work in progress activities; however, each task once completed is removed from the to-do list.
In other words, When a new product is being developed, the scrum team should not add any of its features to the existing Sprint. In order for everyone on the team to know how much time is expected for developing any feature, people must estimate efforts required in advance.
So if you have a Kanban board that lists all your current tasks, if your team works on similar tasks over and over again and they are fixing bugs instead of adding functionality, they understand how much time it takes to fix a bug so you can use this information when planning new features to help with your timeline estimation. As soon as any task moves from the “In Progress” column to the “Complete” column, and the capacity is released, the new item goes under development.


In the world of scrum, teams are encouraged not to continuously push new work items into a Sprint. Having a predetermined limit for what is added to the Sprint backlog may limit the amount of items being worked on at once, but doing so may result in chaos when you’re trying to keep a synchronized flow.
For example, adding more features or tasks may reduce progress on other features that were previously planned but now have less of a chance to be completed in time.
Kanban does not use a prioritization or estimation scheme but considers project planning using probabilistic forecasting to be effective.


Every three to four weeks, the team meets with a customer and/or client to gather feedback on what they need their software or website service to do. A report is generated depicting who requested which features and how long development should take in order for the next Sprint review meeting.
Sprint Burndown Chart, Sprint Report, Epic Burndown, Epic Report, Release Burndown, Velocity Chart,Version Report are some of the charts used in reports in a scrum team.
The following reports are recommended to be used with Kanban, given that its primary metric is a Lead Time: Control Chart that measures the cycle time for issues and Cumulative Flow Diagram that shows the statuses of work items for a particular time interval.

Kanbanvs.Scrum: Which should I choose?

This article is helpful to learning which of the two techniques would be appropriate for you. If your company has a small-sized product development process with few decisions and no strategy, Scrum may be more beneficial.  Scrum can also provide stability in case your company doesn't have a long-term vision or if innovation processes aren't planned deeply enough into an established project.
If a team is looking to experiment with new ideas, Kanban can provide long-term visibility and define the critical path for yourself. One significant advantage of using kanban is that its lack of constraints allows teams to take advantage of feedback loops, something which seems unimaginable in other approaches like Scrum or LeSS (Lean Startup Standard).

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How is Kanban different from Scrum?

Kanban is a lightweight and flexible approach to managing work. It focuses on the current workflow and aims to create an easy way for everyone involved in the project to see what they need to do next.
Scrum is a structured framework that uses time-boxing, cross-functional teams, and a product owner who creates user stories as requirements before development begins. Scrum breaks down large projects into manageable tasks which can be managed by individuals or small groups.

2. Is Kanban or Scrum considered Agile?

Kanban and Scrum are both agile software development methodologies. Kanban is considered a more fluid methodology than Scrum, where the focus is on tasks, not iterations.
In Kanban, the focus is on limiting work in progress (WIP) and getting work out of process at all times by creating an efficient workflow for tasks to move through the system as quickly as possible.
Scrum focuses on iterative releases and feature-based planning, with the goal of delivering working software every two weeks or less.

3. Are there sprints in Kanban?

Sprints are the time when a team sets a deadline and completes a set of tasks in order to reach their goal.
In Kanban, there is no specific time or date when it starts or ends. There is no predetermined number of sprints either. In Kanban, the team defines their own goals and each sprint will end when they have reached that goal.

4. How many people should you add to a Scrum team?

A Scrum team should have a minimum of three people. In order to effectively run a Scrum team, you need to have at least three members.
The reason for this is that the number of people on the team determines how well the team can work together and focus on completing tasks in a timely manner.