Scrumban: What Is It and How to Make the Most of It
As its name suggests, Scrumban is a management method that seeks to be the best of both worlds: Kanban and Scrum. Let’s dive in and explore how to implement it.
Do you know where the term “podcast” comes from?
It’s actually a combination of the words “iPod” (remember those?) and “broadcast” – this is because it was first created to make audio content more accessible. As a result, it became a way for people to easily learn and share more about almost every topic imaginable.
Just like “podcast,” “Scrumban” is also created from two different things to make something new that’s useful and meaningful.
It’s an approach that combines (you guessed it) Kanban and Scrum. And because Scrumban has become especially popular in recent years, many agile practitioners have started to wonder what it is about.
After all, since it’s a combination of the two, doesn’t that make it the best of both worlds?
Just like with any new agility initiative, the most important factor is: does the current status quo still work for you?
Let’s explore the concept of Scrumban, how it works and what it looks like in practice so that you can decide whether it is in fact the right fit for you.
Scrum vs. Scrumban vs. Kanban
When it comes to Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban and everything in between, you can’t really go wrong.
I could easily talk about the differences between them all day long, going into further depth about the pros and cons of each of them.
However, to really get the most out of this conversation today, I want to focus on the similarities and help you discover which practices work best for your own context.
My best advice? Don’t fall into the trap of listing down every single pro and con and getting “analysis paralysis.” The main point here is to understand what each of them has to offer and then flex your systems accordingly to plan, track, and manage your work more efficiently so that you can release better products, faster.
How Do I Implement Scrumban?
Perhaps the best way to think of Scrumban is simply as using Kanban on top of a Scrum. Here’s how I suggest implementing Scrumban:
#1 Visualize Your Current Process
Start by using a Kanban board to visualize the process your Scrum team uses to deliver customer value. Even if it looks like To Do, Doing, Done at this stage, that’s perfectly fine. The goal here is to visualize your current process as it is and not as it should be.
There shouldn’t be any judgment on your current situation. Understand it, embrace it and learn from it. Once you understand what you are actually doing, only then can you improve it.
#2 Define WIP Limits
An important concept in Kanban that you want to include in Scrumban is “Stop starting, start finishing” – meaning that you only start new work when you finish outstanding work. The best way to do this is by applying WIP limits.
Before setting WIP limits, make sure you observe what your typical flow of work looks like – you don’t want to assign more than 1-2 work items per person. And if you need more inspiration, here is our 3-step guideline to successfully implement WIP limits.
Limiting work in progress is essential because it relieves overburden, eliminates multitasking and prevents context switching which ultimately leads to faster delivery times.
#3 Improve Flow
First things first, what is flow? Essentially, flow in knowledge work is the movement of the requests through your process.
And our ultimate goal is to optimize flow so that we can improve the way each piece of customer value moves through the system.
Our aim is to enable a predictable delivery workflow that suits our customers’ needs. And the main flow metrics are at our disposal to help us track the performance of our system.
When it comes to improving flow, there are four very simple metrics we recommend starting with. And these metrics are tightly coupled with how efficiently your system is operating.
My best advice is to start measuring the main flow metrics and keeping track of how the decisions you make affect your flow.
#4 Monitor and Adapt Your Process
As you introduce new changes to your management practices, you may find that it makes sense to drop certain Scrum practices like estimation and start using probabilistic forecasts instead.
At the end of the day, though, what matters most is that you only adopt practices that make sense in your own context. Don’t get too caught up in whether it’s “Scrum,” “Kanban” or “Scrumban” – focus instead on what works for you, whatever that might look like.
Finally, there’s something very important here that I need to mention that applies to every management method, including Scrumban:
To make reliable, data-driven decisions, you need to be aware of where the obstacles in your process are.
And Nave’s analytics suite is here to help you do just that by making your data meaningful and actionable. If you haven’t already, connect Nave to your current management platform (it’s free for 14 days, no obligations) →
I hope this article was helpful in answering all your questions about Scrumban. The Nave blog is the go-to source for everything Kanban related, so please share this article with your fellow managers.
Thanks for tuning in, and I look forward to seeing you next week, same time and place, for more managerial goodness!
Meet the Author
Sonya Siderova is a passionate product manager and a driving force behind Nave, a Kanban analytics suite that helps teams improve their delivery speed through data-driven decision making. When she's not catering to her two little ones, you might find Sonya absorbed in a good heavyweight boxing match or behind a screen crafting a new blog post.