Scrumban: Working a Hybrid in Agile
Scrum and Kanban
Scrum is an agile working method which is mainly used in software development. With Scrum, a team organises itself into specific roles, including a Scrum Master, Product Owner and the rest of the Scrum team. The team divides its work into short time frames, called sprints. Each sprint lasts two weeks or a month. During a sprint, the Developers only work on the tasks that the team has agreed upon during the sprint meeting. Before the next sprint, the team holds a new sprint meeting and decides which items should be worked on in the next sprint. Scrum teams meet every morning to discuss the tasks for the day. This is called the Daily Standup.
Kanban is a visual approach to managing a team’s workload. With this method, a team creates a Kanban board to visually represent its workflow in columns, such as ‘Ready’, ‘Active’, ‘Under Review’ and ‘Completed’. When, for example, Developers start working on a PBI (Product Backlog Item), they move a ticket with the name of the item from the ‘Ready’ column to ‘Active’. The Kanban board makes it easy for anyone to quickly view and update the status of any project.
In Kanban, Lead time and Cycle Time are measured. Lead Time measures the time between the start or ‘request’ and the end or ‘delivery’ of a task, including all phases within the Kanban workflow. For example, if the task has been in the queue for a fortnight and then completed in three days, the Lead Time is two weeks and three days. Cycle Time measures the time from when the team member started working on a task until its completion. If there are multiple phases, Cycle Time is measured only specifically for each phase. So if we take the previous example, the Cycle Time would be 3 days since that is the time the team members worked on the task.
Lead Time and Cycle Time are extremely important to monitor, not just by the Project Manager, but by the whole team. This way, the whole team gets immediate feedback about the obstacles and problems, allowing them to address them quickly and avoid any delays.
Benefits of Scrumban
Impediments are the curse of projects. They slow down work, mess up schedules and waste time and money. Scrumban is a great way to find those impediments in the workflow and fix them before they become a problem. The Kanban element visualises the entire project workflow on one board, allowing managers, through Lead Time and Cycle Time, to see where most tasks are and address delays early and effectively. This clarity ensures that everyone on the Scrumban team is on the same page. Because of Kanban’s transparency, all team members can see where they and the project are in terms of workflow.
Another big advantage is that Scrumban is ideal for larger projects due to the subdivision of all tasks. The bigger the project, the more functions and tasks are attached to it. Scrumban can be divided into different timeframes and prioritised to better manage large, long-term projects.
Easy to learn
Valuable for the company
Scrumban is about collaboration and communication. Communication between team members increases transparency and enables them to do a better job. Increased transparency and clear goals also mean that a team does not need to micromanage. By working closely together, teams are able to anticipate product changes and quickly realign course, while working creatively to prioritise functions and efforts.
Scrumban in its infancy
Another shortcoming of Scrumban is that teams have the freedom to choose which task they work on. So it can be difficult to keep track of the effort and contribution of individual team members. There are no daily scrum meetings to give managers a real-time snapshot of progress. A project manager has control over the process in the longer term, such as what to choose from the three-month Backlog and the prioritised tasks, but after that it is up to the team to decide how to handle and implement it. This can create a problem for tracking and monitoring.