Scrum vs Kanban: Key Differences Between Scrum and Kanban Board

by Jason Gardner (ed.)

Whether you’re mastering the art of project management or refining your productivity strategy, Scrum and Kanban are two buzzwords you’re bound to encounter. Each with their distinctive benefits and approach, understanding these methods at a granular level can boost business outcomes considerably. In this blog post, we’ll delve into these popular methodologies, outlining 5 key differences between Scrum and Kanban. Buckle up!

Understanding Scrum

Scrum is an iterative method that belongs in the agile camp of how to manage and run projects. Its primary aim is to generate value through adaptive solutions while emphasizing teamwork. Scrum teams consist of a Product Owner, Scrum Master, and development team. They manage work within ‘sprints’ – fixed-length periods, usually spanning two weeks.

The Kanban Model

On the flip side, we have Kanban – a flexible, visual system that traces its roots to Japanese manufacturing principles. Unlike Scrum’s sprint-based model, Kanban operates on a continuous flow. Implementing Kanban successfully relies on the practice of limiting work in progress (WIP).

Five Differences Between Scrum and Kanban

1. Structure of Workflow

While both utilize visualization for task tracking, they differ markedly in structure. Scrum’s workflow is divided into sprints, resulting in a cyclical pattern. Conversely, Kanban adopts a continuous flow of work with work-in-progress limits.

2. Roles and Responsibilities

Scrum employs defined roles like the Product Owner and Scrum Master. Meanwhile, Kanban has no predefined roles. While Kanban still emphasizes the need to prioritize work, it does not specify how this will occur. Interestingly, many Kanban teams opt to adopt roles like the Scrum Master and Product Owner from the Scrum framework.

3. Task Limitations

Both Scrum and Kanban have methods for restricting work to allow the team to focus.  In a sprint, a Scrum team commits to a predetermined set of tasks that remain unaltered until the sprint concludes. Kanban utilizes WIP limits to enhance focus. When the WIP limit is reached, Kanban explicitly restricts the addition and adjustment of tasks.

4. Meeting Structures

Scrum specifies meetings for planning as well as inspecting work and processes – daily standups, sprint planning, review, and retrospectives. Kanban also emphasizes the importance of inspecting work. While it doesn’t provide specific guidelines for achieving these goals, many Kanban teams adopt meetings from Scrum to fulfill these requirements.

5. Necessary Changes

Scrum is often a more straightforward approach for organizations to adopt due to its prescriptive nature. In contrast, Kanban’s evolutionary change approach can be integrated piecemeal into existing processes, though again the fundamentals must be followed to gain good results.


While both Scrum and Kanban offer great value, their differences lie in how they structure workflow, assign roles, manage tasks, structure meetings, and implement changes. Remember, both frameworks rely on experimentation and adaptation, as long as the fundamental principles are followed. The key is to understand both methods thoroughly, identify your unique project needs, and align them with the most suitable methodology.


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