What makes Scrumban an effective Agile framework

Posted on June 03, 2024 in Engineering Management

What is Scrumban

Agile methodologies have revolutionized software development by promoting flexibility, continuous improvement, and collaboration. Among the many Agile frameworks, Scrum and Kanban are two of the most widely used agile frameworks. Scrum is known for its structured approach and defined roles, while Kanban emphasizes visualizing workflow and limiting work in progress (WIP). However, a hybrid approach known as Scrumban blends the strengths of both Scrum and Kanban.

In this article, I'll give quick overview of each of the three methodologies and the visual representations of sample workflows followed by the pros and cons of each framework.

What is Scrum

Scrum is a popular Agile framework that structures work in time-boxed iterations called sprints, typically lasting two to four weeks. It revolves around key roles (Product Owner, Scrum Master, Development Team) and ceremonies (Sprint Planning, Daily Stand-up, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective).

Example 1: Banking application project using Scrum

Let's take example of the team that is developing a financial software. This team is tasked with developing a banking application. They chose Scrum to build this new banking application. The project is divided into sprints, each focusing on delivering specific features like account management, transaction processing, and user authentication. Daily stand-ups ensure team alignment, while sprint reviews and retrospectives keep continuous improvement on track.

Sample Scrum Workflow:

graph TD;
    A[Product Backlog] --> B[Sprint Planning];
    B --> C[Sprint Backlog];
    C --> D[Development];
    D --> E[Daily Stand-up];
    D --> F[Sprint Review];
    F --> G[Product Increment];
    G --> H[Sprint Retrospective];
    H --> B;

What is Kanban?

Kanban is a visual workflow management method that helps teams visualize their work, maximize efficiency, and continuously improve. Key elements include visual boards, WIP limits, and a focus on flow rather than time-boxed iterations.

Example 2: Customer support application project using Kanban

Let's take another example of a team developing a customer support application uses Kanban to manage their tasks. They create a Kanban board with columns like Backlog, In Progress, Code Review, Testing, and Done. By limiting the number of tasks in each column, the team ensures a smooth flow of work and quickly addresses bottlenecks.

Sample Kanban workflow:

graph TD;
    A[Backlog] --> B[To Do];
    B --> C[In Progress];
    C --> D[Code Review];
    D --> E[Testing];
    E --> F[Done];

What is Scrumban?

Scrumban is a hybrid Agile methodology that combines the structured approach of Scrum with the flexibility and flow focus of Kanban. It allows teams to leverage the best of both worlds, adapting Scrum practices as needed while maintaining a continuous workflow.

Example 3: An e-commerce application project using Scrumban

Let's take example of a software engineering team working on an e-commerce platform adopts Scrumban to handle frequent changes in requirements and priorities. They use a Kanban board for continuous flow and implement Scrum ceremonies (like sprint planning and retrospectives) to maintain structure and facilitate continuous improvement.

Sample Scrumban Workflow:

graph TD;
    A[Product Backlog] --> B[Sprint Planning];
    B --> C[Sprint Backlog];
    C --> D[Development];
    D --> E[Daily Stand-up];
    D --> F[Code Review];
    F --> G[Testing];
    G --> H[Done];
    D --> I[Sprint Review];
    I --> J[Product Increment];
    J --> K[Sprint Retrospective];
    K --> B;

Why Scrumban is Better

Flexibility and Adaptability

Scrumban offers greater flexibility compared to Scrum, which can be rigid due to its fixed-length sprints and strict role definitions. In contrast, Scrumban allows teams to adjust their processes based on project needs, combining Scrum's iterative approach with Kanban's continuous flow.

Example: In a rapidly changing project, a team can easily adjust their priorities and reassign tasks without waiting for the next sprint, as would be required in Scrum.

Improved Workflow Management

Kanban's emphasis on visualizing work and limiting WIP helps teams identify bottlenecks and streamline processes. Scrumban integrates these principles with Scrum's structure, enhancing overall workflow management.

Example: A team can visualize their tasks on a Kanban board, use WIP limits to maintain a manageable workload, and still hold regular sprint reviews to assess progress and plan next steps.

Better Team Collaboration and Efficiency

By blending Scrum's focus on roles and ceremonies with Kanban's continuous improvement, Scrumban fosters better team collaboration and efficiency. Teams benefit from regular feedback loops and clear communication channels.

Example: Regular stand-ups and retrospectives in Scrumban encourage open communication and continuous improvement, leading to higher team morale and productivity.

Scrum vs Kanban vs Scrumban

Methodology Pros Cons
Scrum - Structured process with clear roles and ceremonies
- Promotes regular feedback and continuous improvement
- Time-boxed sprints help manage work and deadlines
- Can be inflexible due to fixed-length sprints
- Potential for sprint pressure and burnout
- Requires strict adherence to Scrum practices
Kanban - Highly flexible and adaptive to changes
- Visualizes workflow, making it easy to identify bottlenecks
- Emphasizes continuous improvement and flow
- Lack of structure compared to Scrum
- Potential for overload if WIP limits are not managed
- Less focus on defined team roles and ceremonies
Scrumban - Combines flexibility of Kanban with the structure of Scrum
- Scales well from small to large teams and projects
- Enhances team efficiency and productivity through a hybrid approach
- Can be complex to implement, requiring a deep understanding of both methodologies
- Works best with experienced team members
- Flexibility can lead to scope creep if not managed properly


Scrumban represents a powerful hybrid approach that leverages the strengths of both Scrum and Kanban, making it an attractive option for software engineering projects. Its flexibility, improved workflow management, and enhanced team collaboration offer significant advantages over pure Scrum or Kanban. While Scrumban's complexity and need for experienced team members can be challenges, its benefits often outweigh these drawbacks, making it a better choice in many scenarios.


  1. Scrum
  2. Kanban
  3. Scrumban

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