Published 18. September 2018

Agile project management: Kanban or Scrum? Part 2


Scrum is the most commonly used method when it comes to agile project management. The study mentioned in the last article shows that 40 percent of companies use an agile method for IT and IT-related projects, the majority of them Scrum.
In Scrum project management, the task is divided into small units (stories), which the team has to complete in a specified time span (sprint). For this purpose, the task is visualized on a Scrum Board. Tasks that are still to be done are listed in the backlog, so to speak a to-do list. Once processed, they migrate from the backlog to the work-in-progress (WIP). There are usually three roles in each process that must be completed:

• Product Owner: The Product Owner (PO) is responsible for maximizing value and optimizing the work of the entire team. He creates the Product Backlog, which records the tasks (sprints) for the team. He monitors the extent to which the sprint goal is achieved and can prematurely end a sprint. A sprint usually takes two to four weeks.
• ScrumMaster: The ScrumMaster helps the team to get the job done in the best possible way. He makes sure that everyone has understood his tasks. Furthermore he mediates in case of problems and thus also contributes that all team members can concentrate on their actual tasks and the team can work without interference. He takes care of the constant optimization and monitors compliance with the rules that have been defined in advance. A ScrumMaster should not be mistaken for a project leader because the team organizes itself independently.
• Team: The team usually consists of two to nine members and takes care of the internal organization itself. Employees with different backgrounds work and solve the task together in a team.

Kanban: The difference to Scrum

Using Kanban you focus on the continuous workflow – stop starting, start finishing is therefore one of the slogans. The individual tasks (tickets) are visualized and stapled to a board. For this reason, rows and columns are used on the board with each column representing exactly one step. Each column is limited to a specific number of tickets. This is to ensure that the tasks are carried out as evenly and quickly as possible, because the centerpiece of this method is always the continuous workflow. In addition, an employee should always deal with one task only. Starting another task is only allowed when the original is finished. To increase the efficiency of the project, the time is also measured until a task is completed. In the next step, you look for ways and possibilities to accelerate it.

Kanban is well suited for cross-project tasks that are difficult to plan. While Scrum is more suitable for large and complex projects with a long runtime.
As a general rule, the use of agile methods has greatly increased among our customers. The above mentioned study shows that currently a mixture of agile and classical methods is very popular (37 percent), but already 20 percent use only agile methods. Only 12 percent, and thus the smallest group, currently works with classic methods alone. It is likely that this group will continue to shrink and that freelancers with knowledge of one of the above-mentioned methods of agile project management will have good chances in the future employment market.

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