Kanban vs Scrum | The Differences Between Two Major Project Management Approaches

Companies use Kanban and Scrum. Kanban methodology was invented in the 1940s for Toyota and became broadly used by other big companies to manage work in every production stage. Scrum was introduced in 1993 and quickly became popular in Silicon Valley as a new approach to software development.

This article will focus on Kanban vs. Scrum discussion and outline the basic principles of those agile approaches in DevOps. Also, the blog will delineate the key differences, similarities, and roles of those methodologies and point out the main tools in implementing Scrum and Kanban technologies for DevOps.

What is Scrum?

Scrum is an agile methodology that divides work into manageable pieces that the team can complete in a short time sequence. These periods used to be called sprints, and they take 2-4 weeks to deliver software solutions. The basic idea of this methodology is based on a statement that even complicated work can be divided into understandable short tasks.

As the framework’s creator pointed out, these short-term tasks help understand a client and help the team learn faster. It also helps to check if the project is moving in the right direction. With sprints, you will be sure that the final product fits the client’s requirements.

To manage this spirit, you will need a Scrum team. There are three primary roles in the self-organized Scrum team:

  • Product Owner,
  • Scrum Master,
  • Developers.

Scrum methodology is most effective for teams with ten or fewer members. After the team divides the process into sprints, they have 15-minutes day meetings to manage the tasks and track the project. To add, Scrum teams use a specific tool to manage the sprints and product development. This tool is a Scrum Board. It helps to visualize all the processes and ensure that the project is moving to the final goal. This Scrum managing tool can be used as a physical board or digital software.

What is Kanban?

Kanban methodology is based on work visualization, the time limitation for work-in-progress, and moving the tasks from doing to do. This framework is often used for teams that have many requests of different sizes and priorities. Moreover, Kanban is focused on maintaining work-in-progress.

In simple words, the term Kanban consists of two words – kan (means visual) and ban (means card). This system broke all the DevOps tasks into manageable pieces, with a focus on their priority. For tasks visualization, Kanban methodology uses Kanban board. All the functions in most cases are divided into four groups – To Do, In Progress, In Review, and Done. Some organizations add specific columns into the Kanban board, but the main principle to break the tasks based on their priority is always the same.

Every card needs to have some basic information, such as a short description of the task, the responsible person, time for finishing the job, and what is required to move this task to the next stage. If the team uses digital Kanban tools, these cards can also include some links to the documents or codes.

At the same time, there are no mandatory roles in Kanban methodology. Some companies used to have a service delivery manager and a service request manager to navigate the Kanban tasks. Instead, there is no one person responsible for task flow. In Kanban, team members have a collective responsibility to deliver the functions and manage the board properly.

Four basic principles help to understand the Kanban philosophy better:

  1. Start with now. First, you need to focus on a task that your team is currently working on.
  2. Step-by-step approach. Kanban is not about changing all the processes in one moment. You need to evaluate all tasks and implement progressive changes.
  3. Keep your roles. Kanban framework does not require specific roles to achieve the goal. It means that the team needs to keep their roles using this methodology.
  4. Encourage leadership. All initiatives and new ideas need to be encouraged. The team needs to understand the value of innovations.

Scrum and Kanban Processes

Many people think that Scrum, Kanban, and other agile methodologies do not differ. Besides, those frameworks have a different focus, can be applied to separate teams with various tasks, and have a different approach in implementing it in practice. We will outline the fundamental processes in those methodologies to see the differences and similarities of Scrum vs. Kanban frameworks.

  1. Planning. In the Scrum framework, the team needs to create a schedule at the beginning of each sprint. It is crucial to evaluate tasks properly to work with this schedule in the future. If the task priorities change in the sprint model, the team needs to plan and start a new sprint. In Kanban methodology all the processes are continuous. When the team has new tasks, they can add them to the board according to priorities—Kanban planning based on the past workflow data. As a result, when you know the approximate time for delivering each task, you can create a Kanban schedule.
  2. Commitments. The Kanban framework is flexible, and every team member needs to finish the task before starting the next one. In Scrum, the sprint commitment is based on forecasting, and when new jobs or unexpected problems arise, the team needs to create a newsprint.

Kanban vs. Scrum: What are the Key Differences?

When the organization understands the differences between those two management approaches, it helps them choose the proper framework for their team and tasks. Scrum vs. Kanban discussion starts with a philosophy of the frameworks.

As we already mentioned, Scrum is focused on dividing all the tasks into smaller manageable pieces and establishing a 2-4 week for completing the tasks. Kanban methodology analyses all the studies according to priority and defines what tasks can be done late, what needs to be done in the next two weeks, and what is already in review. Instead of the basic ideology of the frameworks, we will also delineate other differences between Scrum and Kanban.

First, Scrum requires specific roles for managing tasks. Kanban does not have any new roles, and you need to keep the team’s roles in this framework.

Second, Scrum is focused on activity-iterations. The main focus is on sprints that have the same length, and as a result, it helps improve the predictable models of delivered tasks. Kanban is not time-based. It focuses on a work-in-progress. That is why Scrum depends on planning, while Kanban is more flexible to make changes in tasks on the go.

Moreover, Scrum is good to use for progress and planning, while Kanban is perfect for flow.

Kanban vs. Scrum: the basic differences

Scrum Kanban
Schedule Sprints (2-4 weeks) Focus on continuous workflow. No time-base
Roles Scrum master, Product Owner, Developers No required team roles
Goal Progress and planning Flow and throughput
Focus Backlog Process dashboard
What project is better for the framework? Changing priorities Stable priorities

Kanban vs. Scrum: Similarities

Equally important, the Kanban versus Scrum discussion is not only about differences in the two approaches. It is also about similarities in these frameworks. First of all, the goal of both methodologies is to improve team management and navigate the workflow for successful goal achievement.

Also, we can define the following similarities in those two managing approaches:

  • Kanban and Scrum focused on work optimization.
  • Both frameworks focus on breaking all the work into manageable pieces.
  • In each framework, it is essential to have a self-organized team.
  • Both are focused on delivering qualitative software in time.
  • Kanban and Scrum are both Lean and Agile.

Kanban vs. Scrum: Roles

The main difference between Scrum and Kanban is the team roles in framework implementation. Scrum requires specific roles, while Kanban does not have any new roles and is focused on keeping team roles in the framework.

As we mentioned already, Scrum is based on product owner, scrum master, and developers roles.

Product Owner

First of all, the product owner is responsible for maximizing product values and leading scrum-team work. Also, this person is responsible for effectively managing the Product Backlog and prioritizing the task for the development team.

Scrum Master

This person is responsible for implementing Scrum principles by the team and Scrum process flow. Also, scrum master tracks the timeline and other processes in coding the software. This person serves the team, product owner, and client in effectively achieving the goals.


This is a team that works with code and design software. The developers are responsible for outlining the plan for the scrum sprints and delivering the quality of the product. Developers can also adapt their software delivery plans according to new goals.

At the same time, there are no required Kanban roles. Some organizations used to have a supervisor for monitoring the tasks, but it depends on project needs in most cases. Also, in Kanban, different team members can work with various aspects of the same job.

Kanban and Scrum Tools

From the first view, Kanban and Scrum boards can look like similar tools. Besides, the Kanban and Scrum tools are different. The board can be physical, but nowadays, it is more effective to use specific software to create Kanban or Scrum boards. After you decide what methodology is the best for your tasks and team, you need to concentrate on software that will fit all the organizational needs in managing tasks.

Kanban board visualizes workflow, and software solution is also focused on work facilitation and mapping.

Moreover, there are some similar things for both software solutions. For example, it must be easy to update tasks, move them or change the task owner. You will also benefit if your software will be integrated with your reports, dashboard and support automated workflow.

Cprime has broad experience in implementing Jira software for Kanban and Scrum teams. Our team can help you get started with the software for the methodology you will choose for your tasks.

Which Should I Choose? Kanban or Scrum

It can be the most important and challenging question for the team when to use Kanban vs. Scrum. One of the most significant indexes is a type of DevOps task. If the functions are related on time, you need to focus on Scrum. If it is more important to focus on workflow, you need to choose Kanban. At the same time, many teams use hybrid frameworks. They are influenced by both methodologies and implement some aspects of each one in their task management software.

Cprime has experience creating and implementing software solutions for organizations that choose to work with hybrid frameworks. If you need a consultation on choosing the best option for your team, you can contact our specialists.

However, in any case, you need to understand when to use Scrum and when to use Kanban.

When to Use Scrum?

This framework is used for product development tasks with rapidly changing requirements. Usually, this strategy is suitable for a team with ten or fewer members, because they are self-motivated and collaborative. It would help if you chose Scrum for projects with unknown delivery times at the beginning of work. This framework will help to plan and schedule product delivery. Scrum is also used for projects with significant milestones and important publicity goals.

When to Use Kanban?

This framework can be applied for the project that has ongoing working processes that needs optimization. Also, this methodology is efficient for projects that require continuous delivery of features rather than delivery in a fixed time. Kanban can be used for correcting some errors or defects in a project. It helps DevOps to see work-in-progress and facilitate all the processes in one board. This framework allows teams to reduce stress, as there are no time sprints for software delivery, and the process is focused on flow tasks.

At the same time, you must feel free to combine those methodologies in your projects. There is also the term Scrumban that describes the combination of two principal agile methods. In any case, choosing the proper framework depends on the project goals and is team-specific and must be analyzed for every single point.


Kanban and Scrum frameworks became the most popular for software development teams and other industries. At the same time, it is essential to understand the differences between Kanban and Scrum. As we described in the article, those methodologies have a different ideology and can be used for various tasks and teams. A deep understanding of each feature in these frameworks will help you choose the right managing strategy for your projects. However, you also can choose a hybrid framework for your workflow.

In this article, we pointed out the main features in Kanban vs. Scrum tools – how to choose the most effective for your goals and what to pay attention to in selecting the software solution for your framework.

If you still have a question about implementing Scrum or Kanban methodology and tools for your organization, you can contact our team for a consultation.

Kanban vs. Scrum

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Maxwell Travers, Content Contributor
Maxwell Travers, Content Contributor