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Jenna Inouye | 26 Jul, 2023

Kanban vs. Scrum: Key Differences Explained [2023]

Let's discuss Kanban vs. Scrum. No matter what type of project you or your team are working on, proper project management is vital to your success. There are countless project management methodologies available today, and today we're evaluating Kanban vs. Scrum. To understand why this is important, consider the Project Management Institute's Pulse of the Profession report. It proves that "projects are 2.5 times more successful when proven project management practices are used." 

So what's the difference between Scrum and Kanban

Both project management methodologies focus on taking big projects and breaking them down into smaller, more manageable increments. But while each helps make projects more manageable, they use different approaches to do so. Kanban and Scrum borrow from the Lean and Agile methodologies, though you might find that Scrum is more closely related to Agile.

But which should you choose for your situation? Do you even have to choose, or can you use both together?

When comparing a Kanban vs. Scrum, here’s a quick overview of what you can expect:



  • Agile-leaning
  • More rigid—better for teams and projects with stable priorities
  • Originated from software development
  • Teams do not exceed nine members with each team having a Scrum Master, Product Owner, and the rest are the development team
  • Work periods are defined as Sprints, which are strictly planned periods of one to four weeks where teams must complete the work agreed upon
  • Agile and Lean
  • More flexible and better for teams with wide and varying priorities
  • Originated from the manufacturing process—at a Toyota factory in Japan!
  • Uses visual cues to track progress
  • Limits work in progress to prevent overwhelm and ensure current tasks are finished before progressing
  • Teams pull from tasks once work is finished

Of course, we know all about the topic. We recently discussed the best project tracking tools available for project managers. We're also interested in the latest books on the subject. That's why we like Blinkist, which summarizes the top points in Scrum books with audio and text for busy people.

So, now that you’ve seen our overview, but you’re still wondering which methodology to choose, below we offer an in-depth comparison of Kanban vs. Scrum. Continue reading on to learn more about Scrum and Kanban differences!

Related: Top 40 Agile Interview Questions and Answers

What Is Kanban?

Kanban is a project management methodology that uses a visual approach, making it easier to track project tasks while helping individuals and teams to find and reduce bottlenecks and inefficiencies along the way.

You might have heard of the Kanban board, which can be either a physical or digital board divided into columns depicting each phase of the task or project. Tasks are put on cards, which can then progress from column to column until completion.

Kanban and Kanban boards are a fantastic way to boost project transparency, allowing team members to visually confirm which tasks need doing, which are done, and where tasks may be piling up along the way. With such a visual approach, it becomes easier for teams to delegate their resources where they are most needed. 

It’s worth noting that Kanban also allows teams to set WIP (Work in Progress) limits, ensuring team members are not overwhelmed with tasks. WIP limits also allow teams to locate bottlenecks, making it easier to streamline the process down the line.

You can easily use Kanban alongside other methodologies if you find that Kanban alone does not satisfy your team’s needs.

What Is Scrum?

Like Kanban, Scrum is a project management methodology that borrows heavily from Agile. Scrum is best for complex projects, allowing teams to adapt and change where necessary. It uses an iterative approach to help teams complete projects so that teams can work on their tasks in stages. This approach allows teams to change depending on their ever-evolving needs and priorities.

Scrum uses short development cycles, or “sprints,” to plan projects. Sprints can last anywhere from one to four weeks before the cycle is reset. Teams generally hold meetings to determine what they intend to work on during a sprint. Once the team decides on these tasks, the Scrum methodology highly discourages adding additional tasks to the sprint. If priorities shift mid-sprint, the sprint is typically canceled, and the team must restart the planning process anew.

With Scrum, teams are generally self-organized. Each team, comprising no more than nine members, has a Scrum Master and a product owner. The other members are known as the dev (development) team.

Scrum observes three pillars as a framework: transparency, adaptation, and inspection.

  • Adaptation refers to Scrum’s adaptiveness, allowing it to embrace change. Thus, this methodology easily accommodates situations where a project’s direction may change.
  • Transparency ensures each team member knows what’s happening in the project and why.
  • Inspection means every team member or stakeholder inspects their project consistently, encouraging an improvement culture.

Related: [Agile vs. Scrum] Difference Between Agile and Scrum

What Are the Similarities Between Kanban and Scrum?

When you look at a Kanban board vs. a Scrum board, you may notice some similarities between the two. But let’s take a quick look at how these methodologies align:

  • Kanban and Scrum are both Agile methodologies.
  • Both methodologies allow teams and projects to adapt and change along the way.
  • Both methodologies also allow teams to complete deliverables in shorter timelines.
  • Development cycles are shorter, and transparency is increased throughout the process.
  • Both Kanban and Scrum encourage team members to engage more.

What is the Difference Between Scrum and Kanban?

While Scrum and Kanban have their similarities, they also have a few things that differentiate them from each other. Let’s take a look at the differences between Kanban and Scrum below:

  • Kanban takes from Agile and Lean methodologies, while Scrum is more Agile-leaning.
  • Kanban uses a method where teams can visualize tasks more clearly, see progress, and identify bottlenecks. Scrum, on the other hand, involves intensely structured workflow during sprints.
  • Where Scrum pre-defines work to be done during sprints, Kanban allows for continuous work and task delivery until a project is done.
  • Scrum requires a Scrum Master, Product Owner, and development team, while Kanban does not assign pre-defined roles in teams.
  • Kanban is more flexible regarding priority shifts, whereas teams must restart the planning process if major changes are needed.

Scrum vs. Kanban: Head-to-Head Comparison

Let’s compare Agile Scrum vs. Kanban, which takes from both Agile and Lean.





The software development industry

Lean manufacturing—developed in a Japanese Toyota factory when cards were used to track progress in production

Roles and Responsibilities

Teams are limited to nine members, each having a predefined role. The Scrum Master manages the timelines, the Product Owner defines team goals and objectives, and the rest of the members (development team) execute

None; roles are not pre-defined, though teams may still have project managers. Kanban encourages team members to collaborate and contribute so team members are not overwhelmed with tasks


Teams learn through experience. They organize and prioritize, then reflect on their wins while identifying areas of improvement after each sprint

Allows teams to use visual cues and planning to improve their work in progress

Delegation and Prioritization

Uses a systematic workflow called a pull system where teams pull entire batches of work and tasks during each sprint iteration

Also uses a pull system that only allows the team members to pull new tasks after the current or previous work in progress has been completed

Due Dates and Delivery Timelines or “Cadence”

Uses “sprints” which lasts between one to four weeks. Sprints are set periods of work time where the team must complete work previously agreed upon during planning

Work is continuously delivered as needed; due dates are determined depending on the team’s priorities and needs


Sprint planning → sprint → the daily Scrum → sprint reviews → post-sprint retrospective

Work visualization → work-in-progress limiting → flow management → feedback loop incorporation

Handling Modifications or Changes

Once a sprint begins, changes are highly discouraged; if priorities shift, teams are encouraged to restart the cycle from the sprint planning phase

More flexible to changes mid-stream; works better for teams who want to work with iterations and continuous improvement

Productivity Metrics and Measurements

Uses visual cues; measures progress and success by “cycle time” (how long it takes to complete a full project piece from start to finish)

Measures through “velocity”; sprints are laid concurrently where each sprint is dependent on the previous sprint’s success

Best Use Case

Teams and projects which have stable priorities that are unlikely to change much over time

Projects with a wide range of priorities

What Are Some Scrum Tools?

If you’ve decided to try Scrum, you might want to consider some of the tools below.


  • Has a free forever tier and affordable starting plans
  • Features allow for bug tracking, product launches, sprint management, and more
  • Use Gantt charts, multiple board views, add unlimited tasks, and more
  • Real-time collaboration


  • Has a free forever tier
  • Has a Pro+ Get Paid plan, allowing users to track work and invoice their time
  • Allows teams to plan, communicate, and collaborate 

What Are Some Kanban Tools?

If Kanban is your preferred method, you can try some of the most popular tools below.


  • Easily one of the most popular Kanban tools in the market
  • Has a free forever tier
  • Create multiple workspaces and collaborate with others
  • Available on multiple platforms
  • Uses basic Kanban boards to visualize work instead of timelines
  • Use lists and cards
  • Incredibly easy to use, helped even further by easy navigation and a simple user interface


  • A tool offered by Digité
  • Works great for Kanban, but can also be used for Scrum
  • Offers a highly-configurable visual workflow
  • Lets you implement work in progress limitations
  • Provides powerful metrics to help teams become more agile and improve even further
  • Allows collaboration, backlog management, and more
  • User-friendly
  • Use a Gantt or timeline view

Can You Use Scrum and Kanban Together?

There may be cases when you find you enjoy aspects of both methodologies. Luckily, you can use a combination of them or a " Scrumban " method for even greater flexibility.

If you’d like a solution that allows you to use Kanban and Scrum without committing to one or the other, consider a tool like ClickUp. It's one of the most popular options available. Otherwise, try Monday’s Work OS enables users to have a Scrum template and a Kanban view, so you can take from both and create your own solution. 

Kanban vs. Scrum: Which One Should You Use?

At the end of the day, choosing between Kanban vs. Scrum depends on your team’s needs and your project’s parameters. If you’re looking for more flexibility, Kanban is your best bet. But if you prefer something more structured, Scrum is your methodology. You can also always try a mix of both, or “Scrumban”, to see if it works better for your needs!

Are you considering becoming a Scrum Master? If you feel ready to start your career and look for work in this field, consider checking out these top Scrum Master interview questions to help you prepare.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is Kanban Better Than Scrum?

There is no single answer to this question. Although both offer their own distinct advantages and disadvantages, the “better” option depends on a team’s unique needs. The best way to determine whether Kanban or Scrum is better for you is to assess factors like your team, project or product, timelines, and work habits. If you cannot decide between the two, you can take from both and use a combined “Scrumban” methodology.

2. Are Scrum and Kanban Both Agile?

Agile describes a method of project management often used in software development and similar industries. In Agile, complex projects are broken down into smaller, more manageable tasks. As Scrum and Kanban break large tasks into smaller chunks, you can consider them both Agile.

3. Is Kanban Harder Than Scrum?

Kanban is more flexible and has fewer rules than Scrum, which many teams may find easier to handle. However, if your team prefers a stricter style with defined rulesets, Kanban might be more challenging overall.


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By Jenna Inouye

Jenna Inouye has been a full stack developer for two decades, specializing in web application design and development. For the last eight years, she has worked as a news and feature writer focusing on technology and finance, with bylines in Udemy, SVG, and The Gamer.

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