What is Scrumban?

Scrumban is a hybrid Agile project management framework that combines elements of two popular Agile methodologies – Scrum and Kanban. It has gained considerable popularity over the last decade as a result of how it combines these two approaches to make teams more agile.

Corey Ladas is seen as the brain behind the emergence of this framework. He saw Scrumban as offering a great means of moving the development team from Scrum to Lean or Kanban.

The benefits that come with implementing Scrumban includes:

  • Promoting just-in-time decisions
  • Reducing waste
  • Encouraging continuous, incremental improvement

The framework takes the structure and seeming certainty of Scrum and combines them with the flexibility of Kanban.

Combining Scrum and Kanban

Of the methodologies that emerged following the Agile Manifesto, Scrum is arguably the most popular. It is an approach that involves teams working in short time-blocks known as sprints. The aim is to promote faster development through piecemeal changes.

Kanban, on the other hand, is an Agile methodology that draws from the manufacturing practices of Toyota. It is a method of visualizing and managing workflow – one that involves limiting work in progress (WIP) while aiming to promote improvement over time.

Both of these methodologies have their respective benefits as well as downsides. Scrum works best for development projects and products. As for Kanban, it is most fitting for production support.

Scrumban aims to pick some of the best benefits that each of these frameworks has to offer and combine them. It integrates some elements of each one with a view to improving efficiency and productivity. Let’s briefly consider some of the ways it does that.

Team roles – There are some prescribed roles in Scrum, including the product owner and Scrum Master. Kanban doesn’t have such. Scrumban has room for roles; they are just not as much as Scrum.

Visualization – Kanban is known for making it easy to visualize the workflow using a board, something that Scrumban integrates as well. While Scrum also involves visualization, this is usually done through other tools, including backlogs, instead of a board.

WIP – The main thing that determines work in progress in Scrum is the sprint backlog, which is set before a sprint starts. Kanban advocates having WIP limits. Scrumban likewise requires keeping WIP limits within the bounds of the resources available.

Meetings – Scrum teams typically have daily meetings as well as several others, but there are no requirements for such in Kanban. Scrumban, like the former, creates room for daily meetings to keep everyone up-to-date and boost productivity.

Iterations – While Scrum is all about iterative development, Scrumban goes the way of Kanban that places emphasis instead on continuous development.

How to Run Scrumban

Scrumban is an attempt to fill the “deficiencies” of Scrum with Kanban practices and vice versa. While both may be seen as “pull” systems (due to how teams pull work items from the backlog), Scrum also doubles as a “push” system given how features are allocated to teams before a sprint starts.

Scrumban straddles the middle ground between the seeming rigidity of Scrum and the laxity of Kanban.

So how does this hybrid methodology work? How do you run it successfully? Let’s point out some key steps to follow.

Create your Scrumban board

The visualization board is one of the attributes that this methodology shares with Kanban. Create a board that has a sufficient number of columns to enable you to properly monitor the workflow. You should make sure, however, that the columns aren’t too many to prevent the board from becoming hard to use and less helpful.

Order all projects

In Scrum, you have to assign work to everyone at the start of the sprint. That’s not how Scrumban works. You have to order all projects according to priority on the board. The team will decide who to handle what, while observing this order.

Establish WIP limits

Like Kanban, this Agile methodology requires that you have thresholds for work in progress. You have to determine this beforehand to protect your team from becoming overwhelmed and to avoid conflicts. The advice is to keep WIP within the resources that you have.

Arrange daily meetings

Meetings are necessary in Scrumban for on-demand planning and for providing status updates. They are usually not as many as those in Scrum. You should decide what form they would take.

The meetings don’t need to take too much time. They can even be short stand-up sessions in some cases. Everyone gets an opportunity to rub minds at the meetings, with this capable of increasing cohesion and productivity.

You do not need to worry about estimating story points as is done in Scum either. Simply continue working on projects according to their importance.

When to Use Scrumban

Each Agile methodology has specific settings they are most suited for. It is important to note that Scrumban won’t work for all teams. It is best for maintenance projects, which explains the increasing popularity in service industries.

The following are some circumstances under which the methodology may help:

  • When you are looking to add pull features in a Scrum development process
  • When you’re involved in event-driven work that involves frequently-changing priorities (e.g. support)
  • When a team finds Scrum too limiting or lacks sufficient resources to support work
  • When you’re shifting from Kanban and want to minimize disruption

Everyone, including management, needs to be in support for your team to succeed or do better with Scrumban.

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