Kanban vs. Scrum

What's the Difference?

Kanban and Scrum are both popular agile methodologies used in project management. While Scrum is more structured and prescriptive, with defined roles, ceremonies, and time-boxed iterations, Kanban is more flexible and focuses on visualizing work and limiting work in progress. Scrum is ideal for teams that require a more rigid framework and regular feedback loops, while Kanban is better suited for teams that value continuous delivery and adaptability. Ultimately, the choice between Kanban and Scrum depends on the specific needs and preferences of the team and project at hand.


FrameworkFlexible frameworkStructured framework
RolesNo predefined rolesDefined roles (Scrum Master, Product Owner, Team)
IterationsContinuous flowSprints
PlanningContinuous planningSprint planning
Work itemsVisualized on a Kanban boardManaged in a backlog

Further Detail


Kanban and Scrum are two popular Agile methodologies used in software development and project management. While both approaches aim to improve efficiency and productivity, they have distinct differences in their principles, practices, and implementation. In this article, we will compare the attributes of Kanban and Scrum to help you understand which methodology may be more suitable for your team or project.


Kanban is based on the principles of visualizing work, limiting work in progress, and continuous improvement. The Kanban board, which typically consists of columns representing different stages of work, allows team members to see the status of tasks at a glance. By limiting the number of tasks in progress, Kanban aims to optimize flow and reduce bottlenecks. Continuous improvement is encouraged through regular retrospectives and feedback loops.

Scrum, on the other hand, is based on the principles of transparency, inspection, and adaptation. Scrum teams work in fixed-length iterations called sprints, during which they plan, execute, and review their work. Daily stand-up meetings, sprint planning, sprint review, and sprint retrospective are key ceremonies in Scrum. Transparency is achieved through the use of artifacts such as the product backlog, sprint backlog, and burndown charts.

Roles and Responsibilities

In Kanban, there are no predefined roles such as Scrum Master or Product Owner. Instead, team members are encouraged to collaborate and self-organize to deliver value to the customer. The focus is on the flow of work and continuous improvement rather than specific roles and responsibilities. Kanban teams may have a team lead or manager, but their role is more facilitative than directive.

In Scrum, there are three primary roles: Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Development Team. The Scrum Master is responsible for facilitating the Scrum process and removing impediments. The Product Owner is responsible for defining and prioritizing the product backlog. The Development Team is responsible for delivering the product increment during each sprint. These roles are well-defined and help ensure clear accountability within the team.

Planning and Execution

In Kanban, work is pulled through the system based on capacity and demand. There are no fixed iterations or timeboxes, allowing for a more flexible approach to planning and execution. Tasks are prioritized based on customer needs, and team members can pick up new tasks as soon as they have capacity. This continuous flow of work enables teams to respond quickly to changing requirements.

In Scrum, work is planned and executed in fixed-length iterations called sprints, typically lasting 2-4 weeks. During sprint planning, the team selects a set of tasks from the product backlog to work on during the sprint. The team then works on these tasks and delivers a potentially shippable product at the end of the sprint. This iterative approach allows for regular feedback and adaptation based on customer and stakeholder input.

Metrics and Performance

Kanban uses metrics such as cycle time, lead time, and throughput to measure performance and identify areas for improvement. Cycle time is the time it takes for a task to move from start to finish, while lead time is the time it takes for a task to be completed from the time it is requested. Throughput measures the number of tasks completed over a specific period. By tracking these metrics, Kanban teams can identify bottlenecks and optimize their workflow.

In Scrum, metrics such as velocity, burndown charts, and sprint backlog progress are used to track team performance and progress. Velocity is the amount of work completed by the team in a sprint, while burndown charts show the remaining work over time. Sprint backlog progress tracks the completion of tasks during the sprint. These metrics help Scrum teams forecast future work and make adjustments to improve their productivity.


In conclusion, Kanban and Scrum are both effective Agile methodologies that can help teams improve their efficiency and productivity. Kanban is more flexible and focuses on continuous improvement and flow, while Scrum is more structured and emphasizes fixed iterations and roles. The choice between Kanban and Scrum depends on the nature of the project, team dynamics, and organizational goals. By understanding the key differences between Kanban and Scrum, teams can choose the methodology that best suits their needs and objectives.

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