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Various project methodologies have been developed to help teams manage their projects efficiently. Two popular sproject management methodologies, Scrum and Kanban, are typically used to manage software development projects.

However, there is another methodology that takes the best of both and combines them into one hybrid methodology: Scrumban.

In this article, I will explain what Scrumban is, how it works, and why it has become a popular methodology for managing projects.

What Is the Scrumban Methodology?

Scrumban is a project management methodology that combines the principles of Scrum and Kanban into one agile methodology. The aim of Scrumban is to provide teams with a flexible and adaptable approach to product development. 

The Scrumban method borrows elements from Scrum, such as week-long sprints and daily stand-up meetings, and combines them with the visual and pull-based nature of Kanban to create a more streamlined process. 

Because of this hybrid approach, Scrumban is often considered a "best of both worlds" methodology, providing agile teams with the structure of Scrum and the flexibility of Kanban.

With the visual nature of Kanban, teams can easily see what tasks are in progress, what tasks are waiting, and what tasks have been completed. This makes it easier to adjust priorities and allocate resources as needed, without disrupting the overall flow of work.

Another benefit of Scrumban is that it encourages continuous improvement. By regularly reviewing and improving the process, teams can identify areas for improvement and implement changes to increase efficiency and productivity. 

This iterative approach to process improvement is a key component of the agile framework, and it is particularly effective in Scrumban.

Scrumban also places a strong emphasis on collaboration and communication. Daily stand-up meetings and regular team retrospectives provide opportunities for team members to share updates, discuss challenges, and identify solutions. This helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.

It’s also highly adaptable to different types of projects and teams. It can be scaled up or down depending on the size and complexity of the project, and it can be customized to meet the specific needs and preferences of the team, which makes it a popular choice for teams of all sizes and industries.

What Is Scrum?

The Scrum framework is a popular and widely-used methodology that originated in the software development industry but has since been adopted by many other industries such as marketing, education, and even healthcare. It has proven to be an effective way to manage complex projects and deliver high-quality results.

The methodology involves breaking down a project into smaller, more manageable chunks called sprints. These sprints can last anywhere from one to four weeks, depending on the project's complexity and the team's resources.

The team then plans what they will accomplish during the sprint or increment and holds daily stand-up meetings to discuss progress and any potential issues that may arise.

Scrum promotes collaboration and communication among team members. By working together closely and holding daily meetings, team members can quickly identify and address any potential roadblocks or issues that may be preventing them from delivering high-quality work.

Scrum also emphasizes the importance of delivering a working product at the end of each sprint or increment. This means that the team is continually delivering value to the customer or end-user, rather than waiting until the end of the project to deliver a final product.

This iterative approach allows for feedback and testing throughout the project, ensuring that the final product meets the customer's needs and expectations.

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Scrum vs Scrumban

While Scrum and Scrumban share some similarities, there are also key differences between these two agile methodologies.

As mentioned, Scrum is a framework that emphasizes fixed roles and a focus on completing a set amount of work during a defined period of time, known as a sprint. Once a sprint has started, no changes can be made to the work that has been planned. 

The Scrum master ensures that the Scrum team is following the framework and supports it by removing any obstacles that may come up. The product owner is responsible for prioritizing the work that needs to be done and ensuring that the team is working on the most important tasks first.

On the other hand, Scrumban is based on Scrum but allows for more flexibility. While it still emphasizes completing work during a set period of time, it allows for changes to be made during this cycle time if necessary. 

This can be helpful if new information comes to light or if priorities shift. Scrumban also allows for more flexible roles, meaning that team members can take on different responsibilities or specific roles as needed. This can help to foster a sense of ownership and collaboration among the team.

One unique aspect of Scrumban is that it allows for the focus to shift from feature-driven work to maintenance work. In Scrum, the focus is always on completing new features or functionality. 

However, in some cases, it may be necessary to shift the focus to new tasks like maintaining existing features or fixing bugs. Scrumban allows for this on-demand planning to happen more easily, which can be helpful for teams that work on products that require ongoing maintenance and support.

What Is Kanban?

Kanban is a project management methodology that aims to streamline the development process by using a visual board to represent the entire workflow. Kanban emphasizes the visualization of work in progress, limiting work in progress, and delivering small batches of work continuously.

Kanban is a Japanese term that means “visual signal” or “card.” It is a method that was first used by Toyota in the 1940s to improve the manufacturing process. Kanban systems have since been adopted by many organizations around the world to improve their project management processes.

The Kanban board is a visual representation of the entire project, whereas each work item or task is represented by a card. The cards are moved through different stages of the project, such as “to do,” “in progress,” and “done.” This workflow management allows team members to see the status of each task at a glance and helps to identify any bottlenecks in the process.

One of the key principles of Kanban is to limit the number of tasks that are ‘work in progress’. This means that the team should only work on a few tasks at a time, rather than trying to do everything at once. 

This work-in-progress limit (or WIP limit) is an important metric within Kanban and helps to reduce the amount of lead time that tasks spend waiting for resources and ensures that the team can focus on delivering high-quality work.

Another important aspect of Kanban is to deliver small batches of work continuously. This means that the team should aim to deliver small, incremental improvements to the project on a regular basis, rather than trying to deliver everything at once.

This helps to reduce the risk of failure and ensures that the team can respond quickly to changes in the project as opposed to traditional long-term planning.

Read about Kanban vs Scrum here.

Kanban vs Scrumban

When it comes to project management methodologies, Kanban and Scrumban are two of the most popular options. While they share some similarities, there are also some key differences between them.

The main differences between Kanban and Scrumban is their approach to time management. For Kanban, everything is about workflow management, meaning that there is no set time for the completion of work. 

Instead, it works based on a pull system where tasks are being pulled from a product backlog as the team has the capacity to work on them. Scrumban, on the other hand, has time boxes, which means that sprints have a set duration and work, usually in the form of user stories, must be completed within that time frame.

Another difference between Kanban and Scrumban is their approach to team roles. In Kanban, there are typically no defined roles for team members. Instead, anyone can pull tasks from the backlog and work on them as they have the capacity. 

On the other hand, Scrumban teams have more flexibility when it comes to team roles. While there are still roles like product owner and Scrum master, team members can take on different responsibilities as needed.

Despite these differences, both Kanban and Scrumban share a focus on continuous improvement. They both encourage teams to regularly review their processes and make adjustments as needed to improve efficiency and productivity. 

Whether you choose Kanban or Scrumban, this focus on continuous improvement can help your team to work more effectively and deliver better results.

When to Use Scrumban 

Scrumban is a hybrid methodology that can be useful in a variety of situations where teams want to adopt agile methodologies but do not want to commit to the strict structure of Scrum or the more relaxed structure of Kanban.

One main benefit of Scrumban is that it allows teams to continuously deliver work without disrupting the flow of work that is being done to maintain the product. This makes it an ideal methodology for teams that are developing new features for an already existing product.

For example, let's say you are part of a team that is responsible for developing new features for a popular mobile app. The app is already in the market, and users expect regular updates with new features. 

However, the team also needs to ensure that the app is stable and bug-free. In this scenario, Scrumban can work well as it allows the team to continuously deliver new features while also ensuring that the existing product is maintained.

Another use case for Scrumban is when a Scrum team encounters difficulty in meeting goals and deadlines or when there is a change in priorities. In such situations, the team can adopt Scrumban to help them manage their work more effectively.

For instance, let's say you are part of a Scrum team that is responsible for developing a new software product.

However, midway through the project, there is a change in priorities, and the team needs to focus on a different set of features. In this scenario, Scrumban can work well, as it allows the team to adapt to the change in priorities and deliver work more effectively.

Overall, Scrumban is a flexible methodology that can work well for teams that have a predictable flow of work that needs to be continuously delivered, with constant adjustments and refinements along the way.

If you are looking for a methodology that combines the best of both Scrum and Kanban, Scrumban might be the right choice for your team.

How Does Scrumban Work?

The Scrumban methodology follows a few core steps:

  1. Start by implementing the Scrumban board.
  2. Identify the sprints. These are iterative cycles that build up the functionality of the product. Determine the length of each sprint and the tasks that need to be accomplished in each cycle, also known as the sprint planning meeting in Scrum.
  3. The development team starts working on the first sprint.
  4. The team meets regularly to review progress and to identify any issues, with a focus on continuous improvement.
  5. As the team works through the sprint, the board should be updated regularly to reflect progress and identify any blockers.
  6. At the end of each sprint, the team performs a sprint review to understand what they have accomplished and to identify areas for improvement. Then they will have another planning meeting and start the next sprint.

5 Benefits of Scrumban

Scrumban has several benefits, including:

  • Flexible methodology that can be adapted to the specific needs of the team.
  • Provides a visual representation of the work being done.
  • Allows for continuous improvement and optimization of the development process.
  • Encourages collaboration and communication within the team.
  • Can be less rigid than other methodologies like Scrum, which can help when deadlines are tight or complexity is high.

4 Drawbacks of Scrumban

While Scrumban can be useful, there are some drawbacks that should be considered, such as:

  • A lack of structure might not work for some teams, leading to confusion and lack of productivity.
  • Some teams might need more guidance and structure in terms of their roles, responsibilities, and processes.
  • Unclear prioritization of tasks can lead to confusion about what should be done first.
  • Continuous changes can impact the predictability of delivery timelines, leading to issues with meeting deadlines.

Scrumban is Your Hybrid Option

Scrumban is a hybrid approach to project management that combines the best of Scrum and Kanban. Scrumban provides teams with the structure of Scrum and the flexibility of Kanban.

This flexible methodology can be adapted to the specific needs of the project and the team, but it also requires a high degree of collaboration and communication among team members. 

When implemented correctly, Scrumban can lead to improved productivity, better communication, and a faster time to market. Read about another 'sandwich' hybrid model here.

Want to know more about Scrumban and other methodologies? Subscribe to The Digital Project Manager newsletter today.

By Mandy Schmitz

Mandy Schmitz is a freelance consultant and project management expert with 10+ years of experience working internationally for big brands in fintech, consumer goods, and more.

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