Kanban vs Scrum: 7 reasons why Kanban might suit you better than Scrum

Why Kanban could be your choice if your aim is to optimise your software development processes without the need for a revolution in your organisation’s culture.

AgileUPDATED ON September 11, 2023

John Adam K&C head of marketing


Kanban software development blog cover image

Kanban and Scrum are two of the most commonly used Agile methodologies. The two approaches both advocate the Agile fundamentals of iterative development, continuous improvement and placing the team ahead of the individual. But they also differ in some important elements of their methodological approach to software development.

Both Agile approaches have their strengths and weaknesses but Kanban could be your choice if your aim is to optimise your software development processes without the need for a revolution in your organisation’s culture.

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Kanban and Scrum – the origin

Kanban was created in the early 1940s by Taiichi Ohno, Industrial Engineer and Businessman, for Toyota automotive. The technology came to the software industry in 2001 after publishing the Agile Manifesto. At that time, it was considered a system for optimising workflows emphasising value delivery rather than processes or tools.

Scrum’s origin dates back to 1986 when it was first presented in a paper titled “The New Product Development Game” by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka. It was published in the January issue of Harvard Business Review and introduced a new way of writing code. The idea was to create a framework for developing software in small chunks, making the delivery to clients faster than ever.

Is either Scrum or Kanban the better approach to Agile development?

Which system is better: Kanban or Scrum? While there are subtle differences between both methods of Agile testing and development, the fundamental goals and benefits remain the same. It would be disingenuous to argue in favour of either Kanban or Scrum representing the superior approach to agile development. They each have their strengths, and drawbacks.

Table comparing key qualities of Kanban and Scrum as Agile methodologies

However, Kanban might be a better fit for your next project if these qualities are important to its optimal execution:

Better visualisation

Visualisation, in the shape of the Kanban board, is one of the most obvious strengths of the Kanban method.. The technology helps teams focus on what’s important and save wasted time figuring out where everyone else is. By creating a visual board of tasks and projects that shows their current status, broken down by stage of work from start to completion, you can see the status of everything in your workflow at a glance.

Kanban board Infographic

Each function within a software development team has a backlog of projects, or ‘epics’ and a series of processes or states that each task must pass through before delivery. The board also makes it easier to see when something needs your attention and helps identify problems before they become more significant blockers to the project’s progress.


Kanban is a lightweight card-based workflow management process. It focuses on getting the job done rather than having an extensive suite of features, which makes it ideal for small teams or projects that don’t require a lot of overhead.

Its small overhead means it’s ideal for teams who want to get started with workflow management or those on a tight budget. At the same time, its core philosophy of communication and feedback-based design keeps all stakeholders involved and accountable.

Prevents team overburden

In Scrum, the team commits to completing a set of tasks during the sprint planning meeting and is expected to focus solely on the tasks committed to during the sprint and not take on any additional responsibilities.

Kanban focuses on work-in-progress limits and blocking additions to that set of tasks before they have been completed. WIP limits optimise worklows by preventing teams from tackling too many tasks simultaneously. This way, the methodology prevents team members from starting work on new projects, or groups of tasks, until they have completed their current commitments. By imposing these constraints on the team’s workflow, Kanban systems help eliminate bottlenecks and ensure the timely completion of tasks.


Kanban is a lean, dynamic management system that optimises resource allocation and usage. It allows for continuous delivery and gives you the flexibility to build a sustainable competitive advantage, while Scrum requires predefined iterations. This technology suggests an approach to backlog management that helps teams become more self-managed while bringing transparency and consistency to the decision-making process.

Kanban helps you maintain a steady pipeline of work, giving teams the freedom to reassess priorities based on changes in the market or conditions within the organisation. Features are released with no prescribed phase durations as soon as they’re ready. If you’re looking for optimal flexibility in your development process, Kanban is the way to go.

Team empowerment

Your team is constantly working on their process, but who knows the most about it? The people who are working on the project every day. When your team regularly collaborates, you benefit from solid collective decision-making. Everyone working on a given process understands it much more deeply and can make informed decisions that affect the whole company.

The Kanban methodology is built on the principles of self-organising teams, whether collaboration is physical or virtual. Learn how to create an empowered team open to feedback and change. It will give your organisation a competitive advantage and foster innovation.


Kanban focuses on how workflow optimisation helps employees improve their efficiency and productivity. In a Kanban process, cycle time and throughput are often the key metrics and tracking them will show how productivity changes over time in your workflow.

Cycle time measures how long it takes for a task to pass through your process. Throughput measures how many projects can be delivered during a specific period. By visualising the workflow and optimising the process, teams can reduce waste, keep work in progress low, and provide more value in less time.

Lean principles

Kanban is based on Lean principles, while Scrum is based on the Agile Manifesto. Kanban focuses on eliminating or reducing waste. Scrum, on the other hand, focuses on delivering maximum value to the customer by developing features one at a time and releasing them as soon as they’re ready.

Waste is considered any action that uses resources without adding value. Value refers to something that the customer is willing to pay for. Having a lot of waste can result in optional work and taking up unnecessary resources (including time and effort), which are always valuable. Reducing wasteful tasks and idle time will allow your Kanban board to work more efficiently.

Kanban can optimise project workflow without a revolution

If your team works on multiple projects simultaneously, it may be challenging to plan the development flow between these projects. Using a Kanban board lets you see when items are available for new tasks and helps you create better schedules for future projects.

Whether working as a remote team or alongside colleagues in person, Kanban is a great approach to optimise your workflow and management effort. And doesn’t require revolution as it respects the current state of your organisation.

Kanban’s central pillar is that you should pursue incremental change and try to improve continuously.

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