Project management is an art of solutions. You have a project, and it has a means to complete it within the constraints of time, scope and cost. As rigid as some methodologies can appear, they’re surprisingly cooperative when combined with others to create a workable hybrid.
For example, take scrum. Scrum is a great framework for helping teams work more productively together. In fact, the name comes from rugby and like it, scrum is a team sport. Teams learn through experience, reflective meetings and specific roles that add structure and manage work.
Then there’s kanban. It’s a visual system for managing work as it goes through a production cycle or process. Kanban is about visualizing workflow and focusing on the tasks at hand, so it can identify bottlenecks, which can then be resolved before they block team members. It’s a cost-effective way to gain productivity.
So, here are two seemingly unrelated items that fall under the larger umbrella of project management. One a framework and the other a system. But just like chocolate and peanut butter, when you put them together you get something not only tasty but highly effective.
Scrumban: An Agile Hybrid
Scrumban is part of an agile framework, a hybrid of scrum and kanban. It was created as a way to transition from scrum to kanban. The hybrid combines the best features of both and is well-suited for product and development projects.
What scrumban does is take the prescriptive nature of scrum, which resides in an agile framework, and uses the process of improvement that is key to kanban. This gives teams the power to continually optimize its processes.
Scrum teams wanted to reduce the batching of work and were attracted to a pull-based system, like kanban, which lead to this hybrid approach. With scrumban, teams are more flexible in their ability to adapt and change as stakeholders and production needs dictate, without it becoming an undue strain on resources.
But another advantage of scrumban is that it provides a bridge for teams transitioning from scrum to kanban. Scrum comes from a software development background, and the switch to kanban for these teams can be problematic. But scrumban is a more familiar practice that gives teams the benefits of kanban without taking them out of their comfort zone.
How Scrumban Combines Scrum and Kanban
Scrumban succeeds by combining the structure of scrum with the flow-based method of kanban. Scrumban takes from scrum such decision-making as figuring out how much work can be done in a sprint and prioritizing what is the most important task to work on next. But this work is not done until the necessary analysis is completed, which falls under the scrum definition of ready. This ready list is used as a bridge to organize tasks between the backlog and the doing stage.
Kanban comes into scrumban to improve the process and visualize the workflow. Scrumban teams use kanban processes, such as the pull system, which provides a continuous workflow. That is, tasks are pulled into the doing column when the team is ready to execute.
Kanban also helps scrumban by limiting how many items are in progress at any time, which increases focus on specific tasks and helps productivity. Unlike scrum, in kanban individual roles are not clearly defined, so this adds some flexibility.
Just-in-time analysis in kanban creates shorter lead times, instead of batch-processing for iteration planning estimates, which is used in scrum. Weaknesses in the process are exposed through the use of process buffers and flow diagrams. This identifies areas that can be improved and reduces bottlenecks.
Kanban adds a focus more on cycle time (the time from when work begins on a task and ends when the deliverable is ready) than burndown (what’s left to do against how much time is left to do it). That’s because if cycle time is predictable, then burndown will be predictable too. Also, kanban adds the use of policies that make the transitions in process clearer.
Advantages of Scrumban
Scrumban is made for teams that desire the structure of a scrum framework but with the flexibility offered with kanban. It also suits those teams that are migrating from scrum to kanban.
One of the advantages of scrumban is that it saves time. That’s because there’s no sprint planning every couple of weeks. Plans are only made when there’s a demand for the team to make them, such as when the work in progress falls below a predefined threshold.
Larger projects are also ideal for scrumban. The larger the project, the more features and tasks associated with it. These deliverables are required over months if not years. Scrumban can be distributed in various buckets of time and prioritized in shorter iterations to better manage these long-term projects.
Bottlenecks are the bane of projects. They slow down work, mess with schedules and waste time and money. Scrumban is a great way to find those bottlenecks in workflow and resolve them before they become a problem. The kanban element visualizes all of the project’s workflow on one board, which allows managers to see where the most tasks are and address the slowdown early and effectively.
Everyone is on the same page in scrumban. Again, because of the transparency of kanban, all team members can see where they and the project is in terms of workflow. They update their statuses and everyone sees it.
Scrumban is a simple hybrid process that can be easily adopted. There’s no need for a scrum master or product owner. It’s visual and there’s only one planning meeting. The rules are straightforward, so the learning curve is relatively flat.
This allows teams to have more of an equal footing, which helps to reduce stress in a project. Teams have the autonomy to choose tasks using the pull principle (a lean manufacturing technique that controls the flow of work by only moving on when the last task has been completed). Tasks are not assigned by a project manager, and there’s no daily reporting to a project manager, which keeps teams on task.
Disadvantages of Scrumban
Though there are many advantages, there are also some deficits to using scrumban that need addressing. For one scrumban is so new that there are no best practices to guide it. This can open the door for teams inventing their own, which may or may not be a benefit to the project.
Because teams have the freedom to choose what task they work on it can be difficult to track the effort and contribution of individual team members. There are no scrum daily meetings to give managers a snapshot of the progress. This can create a tracking and monitoring nightmare.
Needless to add, the one who loses control in this situation is the project manager. A project manager has control over longer-term process, such as what to pick from a three-month bucket and the tasks to schedule for on-demand planning and their priority. But after that it’s up to the team to decide how to handle and implement them.
How ProjectManager.com Helps with Scrumban
Because scrumban is a hybrid framework for working on projects, the tools managers and teams use needs to share that flexibility. ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based project management software that can work in any methodology. Whether you’re managing your project in waterfall, an agile framework or a hybrid, our features are plastic to pivot with you.
We have kanban boards that have easy-to-use drag and drop cards and customizable columns that allow you to organize your work your way.
Scrumban lives on the kanban board. Managers and teams can see the whole project’s workflow. Teams are given collaborative tools to work more effectively. They can comment, attach files, set priority levels, add tags and more. By using an @mention, one team member can bring in another instantly.
Reporting keeps managers tracking progress. Yes, our software removes one of the disadvantages of scrumban. There might be no daily stand-up meetings, but project managers can generate reports with one click to monitor progress on tasks, project variance, health and more. The reports can be filtered to customize them to show just the data you want.
Get ProjectManager.com and give your team the freedom of scrumban and project managers the tools to track and monitor their progress. We also have online Gantt charts to plan over a timeline. Timesheets keep team’s hours logged. Resource management tools make sure resources are balanced. And our team section gives project managers a place to collect team member skills to facilitating assembling effective teams. Try ProjectManager.com today with this free 30-day trial.