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Top 10 Differences Between Scrum Board and Kanban Board

When it comes to agile, Scrum and Kanban boards are preferred. It’s not about whether you, as a team, want to use Scrum Board or Kanban Board, it’s first about whether you want to follow Scrum or Kanban as a framework. But first, we are going to have a quick look at these individual frameworks to brush up on our memories and get started with the scrum board Vs kanban board.

What is Scrum?

It is one of the popular agile frameworks that is used for complex product development where the team needs to adapt to the changes very quickly. The short-term cycles are known as iterations and they last for one to four weeks, with a typical cycle of 2 weeks. With the help of an iterative approach, the Scrum methodology helps in delivering the project in stages rather than delivering it at once.


This will make sure that the team can adapt to various changes and evolving priorities as they come along the way. The team is rather small and it includes only one Scrum Master and one Product Owner, and the developers. 

Scrum master plays a vital role here and you can also have SAFe scrum master certification online and have a great understanding of the Scrum board. The scrum team follows five core values religiously- courage, focus, commitment, respect, and openness.

Scrum is used when the teams can work on 1 or more iterations without much deviation during the iterations. A team having better visibility, roadmap, and backlog will be able to use the Scrum framework effectively.

What is Kanban?

Kanban is a lightweight framework used for agile and DevOps development. Kanban requires real-time communication of capacity and absolute transparency of work on a daily basis.

Now if the team is looking to have a visual method that helps in tracking the tasks and also helps in the reduction of inefficiencies, then Kanban is one of the frameworks to choose.

Elements of a kanban board
Ref: Atlassian

One of the pivotal things about the Kanban system is its Kanban Board which can be physical or digital. Kanban means “Visual Board”. It’s about visualizing the information or material flow so everyone can see the flow and take the right actions at the right time. 

It is very beneficial as it provides a visual representation of the tasks at hand and here the team can also pick the tasks based on the priority and make sure that there are no bottlenecks. It increases flow and improves delivery speed, and this also helps in getting that alignment between the business objectives, the team, and the owners as well.

Scrum Board Vs Kanban Board

Before we get into Scrum Board and Kanban board, let’s understand the difference between these frameworks. Now that we have understood both boards individually, it is time to start with the differences one by one.

kanban vs scrum 3

1. Columns in each Board

The Scrum board concept is borrowed from the Kanban board. Scrum board typically consists of 3 columns – Not Started, In Progress, and Done. However, Kanban Board can have any number of columns. It just reflects the flow of a backlog item from one end to the other end. So, the number of columns can be as many as 30+.

2. Work in Progress Limits

In Scrum, the limits are present per iteration. The team does an iteration plan and picks what can be delivered within an iteration. In this, the iterations are defined in which the development team makes sure that they have defined the user stories and tasks that they will be able to complete in that given time frame.

Here all items can be in the In progress section as there is nothing to prevent the same. Though Scrum also emphasizes on WIP limit, it is not really mandated through the framework. We should still follow the WIP limit to bring incremental development within an iteration.

But in the case of Kanban, limiting work per workflow state is key. There is a limited task that will be present in the In Progress section. You can actually limit WIP in each column of the backlogged flow. 

3. Owner of the Board

The scrum team owns Scrum Board because all the backlog items within the Scrum Board will be implemented by the Scrum Team. However, the Kanban board need not be owned by the team. It can be owned by several people from left most column to the rightmost column.

4. Ownership of the tasks

Scrum tasks are owned by the team, however, in Kanban, ownership of tasks can be owned by an individual. For example, coding, code review, and testing can be owned by individuals.

In Kanban, the owner of the task will complete the task and move the work item to the next column so the next owner can pick it up. In Scrum, the team needs to make sure they work together to take it to the Done state.

5. Updating of Board with new work items

In Scrum, typically, no backlog gets added to the Scrum Backlog in the middle of the iteration. During the iteration planning itself, the team gets to plan for the whole iteration, hence the chances of changing in the middle are rare. In Kanban, backlog items can keep coming to the board, and based on the priority, they get prioritized. It’s primarily driven based on the WIP limit.

6. Managing Urgent Tasks

Since the Scrum Teams spend the effort to plan effectively during the iteration planning, they don’t get to manage many urgent/unplanned tasks in the middle.

In Kanban, you can have a separate lane called “Urgent” and all the urgent tasks can be put in there. Urgent swim lane doesn’t come under WIP limit boundaries, however, it is recommended to have 1 urgent travel at a time to speed the overall flow.

7. Deliverable timelines

In Scrum, the deliverables are determined by sprints or iterations. These sprints or iterations are a set of times in which the work is needed to be developed and reviewed and handed over to the business.

Though true agile teams can deliver every moment, most of the Scrum teams still work in an iteration cycle and at the end of an iteration is when they keep something ready to release. Iteration boundaries become critical for deliverables.

But in Kanban, there are no defined sprints or iterations. Here the products and processes are delivered on a need basis but these timelines are being defined by the businesses. Whenever the work item reaches the DONE column, it can be released independently.

8. Backlog Structure

In the scrum board, the team will move the items from the product backlog to the sprint backlog or iteration backlog. These are the items that the team is supposed to build in the given iteration time frame. The team makes use of User Stories as a best practice that helps them to move items from the Product Backlog to the Sprint Backlog.

In the Kanban board, the Backlog structure is still used, however, they do not have a dedicated backlog which they use as the user stories. With the right Kanban training and Kanban course online, the team can achieve more and give their best in this domain.

9. Reports

In Scrum, one of the primary metrics is  Velocity. But there are also other charts and reports that are being used by the team, this includes- Sprint Burndown/iteration burndown Chart, Sprint Report, Epic Burndown, Epic Report, Release Burndown, Velocity Chart, Version Report, etc.

But in Kanban, there are no dedicated charts. But one of the primary metrics that is being used here is Lead Time. Also, the Cumulative flow Diagram shows various stages of the items in the workflow at the given interval of time.

10. Modifications/ Changes

While working in agile and following the Scrum methodology, the changes made during the sprints are highly discouraged if it impacts the iteration goal defined. Any change required can be done during the iteration boundaries.

But when you are working with Kanban boards, it allows the changes that can be made in the mid-way. This allows continuous improvements in the iteration before the project delivery.

The Final Word

It’s not about choosing a Scrum board or Kanban board for your execution. It’s about which framework you want to choose for your execution. Choosing the right framework will help you choose the right board and implement the same. 

One tip here is that you should stick to one methodology long enough for it to work. By the use of either scrum or Kanban, you will be able to get that agility that you wanted for your team and can have that agile bliss for your team. If you want to increase your acumen and go for Kanban certification online with Leanwisdom as you are going to find the best course here at affordable prices.

Not only, you are going to have your basics strong, but you are also going to have practical knowledge that will help you achieve more in your career. So don’t wait and grab the chance for a better career soon!