In this episode of Trainer Talk – the supplemental series to the Agile Coaches’ Corner podcast – Eric Landes, a Professional Scrum Trainer, addresses the question, “Can Scrum and Kanban work together?”
In my classes, I often get asked about the differences between Scrum and Kanban. Can Scrum and Kanban work together, and how can that work? Typically, people talk about one team doing Kanban – like an operations team – along with other Scrum teams, which are often feature teams.
The short answer to this question is yes, Scrum and Kanban can coexist. Scrum.org has a class called “Professional Scrum with Kanban.” This was created by Kanban experts Daniel Vacante and Yuval Yeret. Yuval is also a Professional Scrum Trainer. Both Daniel and Yuval have extensive Kanban experience and work in the Kanban community.
Yes, Kanban and Scrum can coexist. But, how does that actually work? Let’s think about this: Kanban is about flow, and Kanban principles and practices do not conflict with the Scrum Framework. The principles for Kanban are: Start with what you know, agree to pursue incremental evolutionary change, and respect the current process, rules responsibilities and titles. Within Scrum, we have a built-in way to achieve evolutionary change because we inspect and adapt. The retrospective and daily Scrum are ways that this can be achieved.
There are some limits to Work In Progress (WIP) in Scrum; it’s a core value from the Kanban practices. But in Scrum, it’s not quite as explicit. For instance, Scrum limits WIP just within the Sprint itself. There’s only so much you can do. Kanban is much more granular. It really makes processes explicit and can enhance the Scrum team, especially when your team is struggling to get to “done” at the end of the Sprint.
Another thing is that Kanban implements feedback loops, improving collaboration and experimentation. Again, all of these are very compatible with the Scrum Framework.
How can the Scrum team begin using Kanban within its framework? One thing the team could do is focus on Kanban metrics. For instance, if a Scrum team has a forecast to complete five stories or PBIs within a Sprint, but the team consistently misses one or two stories in a Sprint, how could we help them?
Kanban has the aging Work In Progress metric to help them assess their forecast during their daily Scrums. This metric helps Scrum teams focus on that question with data: Are we going to meet our forecast or not? If not, the team can decide to focus and swarm on one item, get that item to “done,” and continue to finish PBIs in the Sprint.
Hopefully, this will help the team focus on getting to “done” and address issues that prevent the team from achieving their forecast. I would recommend the aging Work In Progress metric as a great way to start work with your Scrum team using Kanban in your daily Scrum. Other practices like visualizing your workflow and limiting WIP will help that focus as well.
If you want to increase your team focus, I recommend reading up on Scrum and Kanban. You can also take the Scrum with Kanban course, which dives into methods to help Scrum teams utilize metrics to increase their focus.
Let us know what you thought about this supplemental episode of the Agile Coaches’ Corner. If you’re interested in training, visit agilethought.com/training or call us at 877.514.9180 to learn more. And if you have a question you want us to answer on the next Trainer Talk episode, email us at email@example.com.
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