Scrumban is an Agile management framework that combines the advantages of two other popular frameworks: Scrum and Kanban.
In the world of software development, two systems have dominated the workflow conversation—Scrum, with its small teams and structured, discrete scrum meetings, and Kanban, which helps teams visualize the entire project management process and continuously find improvements.
Sometimes, however, product development requires both the predictability of a structured workflow and a continuous process that can improve productivity within larger teams. By combining the best that both Scrum and Kanban have to offer, you get Scrumban, a versatile framework for complex, multidisciplinary projects with dynamic needs.
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What is the Scrumban Framework?
To define Scrumban, we should first take a look at the frameworks from which it derives its components: Scrum and Kanban.
Scrum is an Agile methodology that is designed to improve productivity and teamwork. Also, it allows for rapid delivery and adaptation to new market needs or client requests.
It is centered on the use of sprints. These are fixed periods of development work (typically 1 to 4 weeks long) with specific targets that you meet at the end of each sprint. Scrum typically works with small teams of up to ten people. During sprint planning meetings you would assign tasks and roles to each team member.
On the other hand, Kanban is a Lean framework that creates an environment of continuous work and process improvement.
Kanban limits how much work enters the pipeline at any given time. It visually represents all work in the form of Kanban boards. This allows all stakeholders to get a glance at open activities. Kanban boards contain lists that the team arranges from left to right in order of progress. Each list contains task cards, which are moved from list to list as they progress to completion.
Unlike Scrum, Kanban does not use fixed development cycles or team roles. Instead, it manages how much work each team or developer gets by only “pulling” it into their workload when their capacity allows it. These workload limits help promote better productivity and eliminate bottlenecks.
Kanban allows for much larger teams than Scrum. Also, developers often get to pick their tasks as new work comes in, rather than someone assigning tasks to them during sprint planning sessions.
Scrum has a relatively rigid and predictable structure that can help ensure maximum transparency and efficient prioritization of tasks and goals. Kanban allows for continuous work and process improvement as well as the flexibility to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances.
Scrumban (a portmanteau of “Scrum” and “Kanban”) combines these sets of characteristics to help teams improve processes and break free from the rigid structure of sprints. All while still maintaining sprint-like meetings. Those align all stakeholders on task priorities and determine what amount of work the team can realistically achieve in a given time.
What are the Key Components of the Scrumban Framework?
Scrumban is composed of several major concepts. Many of which are aspects of Scrum or Kanban that have been reworked to provide a balanced mix of flexibility and structure.
Like Scrum, Scrumban uses fixed-time, sprint-like processes, called “iterations”, to ensure regular delivery of results and feedback. Iterations are a maximum of two weeks long, allowing the team to respond quickly to changes in the product backlog.
When activities are being carried out, there are no planning or review processes. Planning only occurs when the number of available tasks, known as the Work-in-Progress (WIP), falls below a certain level.
Scrumban actively limits the number of tasks that are on the Scrumban board at any time. Too many tasks on the board may overwhelm your team and reduce productivity.
During Scrumban planning sessions, team members actually choose their own tasks. Unlike in Scrum, where the team leader assigns tasks during the sprint planning stage. On the Scrumban board, team leaders arrange tasks according to the priority of completion. This shows members which tasks they need to finish first.
Bucket Size Planning
While there are no set sprint planning or review sessions, Scrumban does have a long-term planning component, known as bucket size planning.
Using this planning method, teams can keep high-level goals in mind while working on the WIP activities taking place in the short term. It also helps them understand how current activities relate to larger project objectives.
Bucket size planning is carried out by putting ideas into three buckets:
- The one-year bucket, which contains mostly high-level ideas that represent long-term goals that require more time and input to complete. No specific details on approaches or pre-requisites are typically noted in the one-year bucket.
- The six-month bucket, which breaks down high-level ideas into plans that are more detailed and contain requirements and objectives. Management alreardy approved the ideas in the six-month bucket.
- The three-month bucket is where the team draws its tasks from. This bucked refines six-month objectives into individual, actionable tasks that the team can complete in the short term.
This lets teams create a logical process hierarchy and prioritize tasks that they need to accomplish sooner, rather than later. Bucket size planning also helps you break down large, sweeping tasks into smaller, bite-sized chunks. You can assign these to team members on the Scrumban board as WIP activities.
No Formalized Roles
Scrumban has no formal role assignments for any members of the team. All team members can freely select tasks to complete from the board.
Scrum and Kanban vs Scrumban
Scrumban takes the advantages of Kanban and Scrum and melds them into a new framework. In summary, the differences are described in the following table:
The biggest difference between Scrum and Scrumban is in how Scrumban’s version of sprints is executed. Iterations are shorter than sprints and don’t have the rigid structure of sprint planning, sprint review, or daily standup, reducing the amount of time spent in meetings.
Team sizes also have no limit in Scrumban, unlike Scrum, which is designed for up to ten members maximum.
Overall, Scrumban has a relatively relaxed environment compared to Scrum, allowing it a greater degree of flexibility.
What is The Difference Between Kanban and Scrumban?
While Scrumban is more flexible than Scrum, it still has a few more rules than the normally very freeform Kanban.
For example, there are planning meetings that set the long-term pace for the team, in the form of the bucket size planning meetings. Additionally, there are on-demand planning sessions to manage the amount of work that’s on the Scrumban board.
The Scrumban board itself is more detailed than the Kanban board. While the average Kanban board contains only a few columns—typically “to do,” “WIP” and “done”—Scrumban boards often have many more phases.
Getting the Best of Both Worlds With Scrumban
With Scrumban, you get the best parts of Kanban and Scrum, as well as a way for teams to easily transition from a pure Scrum workflow to the Kanban framework. Harnessing the advantages of both frameworks is key to adapting to modern product development needs.