Scrum vs. Kanban: A Comparative Study

Scrum and Kanban are two popular agile frameworks that help teams deliver products and services faster and more efficiently. However, they have different origins, principles, and practices that suit different types of projects and teams. In this article, we will compare and contrast Scrum and Kanban, and provide some guidelines on how to choose the best framework for your situation.

Origin and Ideology

Scrum originated from software development in the 1990s, as a way to cope with the complexity and uncertainty of building software products. Scrum is based on the idea of learning through experiences, self-organizing and prioritizing work, and reflecting on wins and losses to continuously improve. Scrum follows a set of values, principles, and practices that guide the team throughout the project.

Kanban originated from lean manufacturing in Japan in the 1950s, as a way to optimize the flow of work and reduce waste. Kanban is based on the idea of visualizing work, limiting work in progress, managing flow, and incorporating feedback loops. Kanban does not prescribe any specific roles, ceremonies, or artifacts; instead, it allows teams to adapt their existing processes to the Kanban principles.

Work Cycle

Scrum follows a regular, fixed-length work cycle called a sprint, which typically lasts from one to four weeks. During each sprint, the team commits to completing a potentially shippable increment of work, which is defined by a set of user stories or features. The team follows a plan-do-check-act cycle within each sprint, which includes sprint planning, daily scrum meetings, sprint review, and sprint retrospective.

Kanban follows a continuous flow work cycle, which means that there is no fixed timebox or deadline for completing work items. Instead, the team pulls work from a backlog as soon as they have capacity, and moves it across different stages of the workflow until it is done. The team monitors the flow of work using a Kanban board, which shows the status and progress of each work item.

WIP – Work In Progress

Scrum limits work in progress by setting a sprint goal and a sprint backlog for each sprint. The team does not take on any new work until the current sprint is completed, unless they decide to renegotiate the scope with the product owner. This helps the team focus on delivering value and avoid multitasking.

Kanban limits work in progress by setting a maximum number of work items that can be in each stage of the workflow at any given time. This helps the team balance demand and capacity, reduce bottlenecks and waste, and improve throughput and quality.

Inspect-Adapt (Empiricism)

Scrum provides multiple opportunities for inspection and adaptation throughout the project. The team inspects the product increment and gathers feedback from stakeholders during the sprint review. The team also inspects their own process and identifies improvement actions during the sprint retrospective. The team implements these actions in the next sprint to increase their performance and customer satisfaction.

Kanban does not have any specific mechanism for inspection and adaptation, but it encourages teams to use metrics and data to monitor and improve their flow of work. The team can use measures such as lead time, cycle time, throughput, quality, and customer satisfaction to identify issues and opportunities for improvement. The team can also use experiments and hypotheses to test different solutions and implement changes incrementally.

Transparency (Empiricism)

Scrum uses three main artifacts to provide transparency into the project: the product backlog, the sprint backlog, and the product increment. The product backlog contains all the requirements for the product, prioritized by value and estimated by effort. The sprint backlog contains all the tasks that the team needs to complete in the current sprint to achieve the sprint goal. The product increment is the sum of all the completed user stories or features that meet the definition of done.

Kanban uses one main artifact to provide transparency into the project: the Kanban board. The Kanban board shows all the work items in different stages of the workflow, such as backlog, in progress, testing, done, etc. The Kanban board also shows the WIP limits for each stage, as well as any blockers or dependencies that affect the flow of work.


Scrum and Kanban are both effective agile frameworks that can help teams deliver value faster and more efficiently. However, they have different strengths and weaknesses that make them more suitable for different types of projects and teams. Here are some general guidelines on how to choose between Scrum and Kanban:

– Use Scrum if your project is complex, iterative, evolving, and requires frequent feedback and improvement.
– Use Kanban if your project is simple, linear, stable, and does not require much inspection or adaptation.
– Use a combination of Scrum and Kanban if your project has elements of both complexity and stability, or if you want to benefit from the best practices of both frameworks.


– Kanban vs Scrum | Atlassian. (n.d.). Retrieved February 13, 2024, from
– Scrum Vs. Kanban: How to decide when to use Scrum and when to use Kanban. (n.d.). Retrieved February 13, 2024, from
– Kanban vs. Scrum: What’s the Difference? | Coursera. (n.d.). Retrieved February 13, 2024, from

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