Scrum Agile Project Management

Adding Some Kanban to Your Scrum

Scrum and Kanban can be considered as the two main Agile approaches. In a simplistic view, Scrum is often categorized as a product development framework and Kanban is preferred when you want to manage flow or maintenance activity. However, it is not mandatory to choose between the these two options and Kert Peterson argues that adding some touches of Kanban can improve your sprints.

Scrum Kanban board

Kert Peterson proposed to add the following Kanban practices to improve your Scrum sprints:

1. Visualize your work with a task board and a team board. He wrote that “While tasks may be interesting and useful to teams, they are irrelevant to the customer and the Product Owner. You can’t deliver a task. As the unit of work represented on a higher-level board, a well-formed PBI (product backlog item) or story represents the value that we want the team focused on delivering to customers and end-users. Tracking the flow of the PBI on an appropriately designed team board can be a useful step towards encouraging shared ownership of a PBI and orienting the team towards customer value.”

2. Limit work in progress (WiP). Even if Scrum indirectly limit the workload to the number of stories that a team can deliver during a sprint, some teams tend to overcommit. Using explicit WIP limits on your task boards provides constraints that will encourage shared ownership and a focus on finishing tasks instead of having everything in a “in progress” status. This leads to a healthier workflow throughout the sprint.

3. Managing flows. In addition to WiP limits, Kanban offers other mechanisms to improve the flow, like blocker visualization or using an expedited swim lane for urgent unplanned work. Tracking these requests explicitly can surface patterns and enable the Scrum team to address issues more systematically.

4. Making processes policies explicit. Process policies are simply a written or formal agreement within the Scrum team that manage how and when work items move across the kanban board.

5. Implement feedback loops. Kanban feedback loops, also called cadences, provides information and context to plan daily work and to evolve the product/system and process to meet the needs of the market or customer.

The conclusion of the article is that “More siblings or cousins than the rivals that many make them out to be, Kanban and Scrum both aim for sustainable delivery of high quality products and services in the shortest possible time frame. Kanban’s methods to visualize and manage workflow can bring clarity and better team collaboration within the Sprint.”

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