May 18, 2023

What Is Scrumban?

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Key takeaways

  • Scrumban is more flexible than Scrum but more rigid than kanban.
  • It works great for experienced, autonomous teams.
  • It allows for more focus time and less meetings.

Scrumban is an Agile project management framework focusing on flexibility, data visualization, and speed. As the name implies, it’s a mix of Scrum and kanban.

Perhaps most prominent is Scrumban’s use of two-week work cycles called iterations. This short turnaround differs from Scrum’s four-week sprints and Kanban’s cavalier approach to time altogether. As a result, Scrumban is reserved for fast-paced teams that have generous wiggle room when solving problems.

Let’s dive in to see if Scrumban is right for you.

How does Scrumban work?

Scrumban revolves around visualizing tasks and a project’s progress. This eyeball-friendly approach is borrowed from kanban.

Indeed, Scrumban’s more relaxed approach affords workers a greater say in progress. However, there are still formal stages on the road to project completion.

Initial planning meeting

To get started with Scrumban, a team holds an initial planning meeting. During this get-together, a list of short-term tasks is developed. These to-do items are portioned into two-week increments, known as “iterations.” Long-term goals may also get spelled out, but it’s optional.

Staff members are encouraged to choose their own tasks from the predetermined list. This independence is referred to as the “pull principle.” As people complete items, they may autonomously select their next piece of work. This freedom is a hallmark trait of Scrumban.

Data visualization

Another key trait is Scrumban’s visualization of project progress. Known as a Scrumban board, this chart arranges tasks and ideas by timeframe and status.

Usually, immediate, top priority to-do items are placed in a three-month “bucket,” or group. Six-month and one-year buckets are also employed.

Once tasks are assigned, workers track progress using three status buckets: backlog, work in progress, and completed. Each person is expected to update the board on their own.

Teams craft boards on traditional whiteboards or via software. Some digital platforms include, Trello, and Jira.

Read Also: Trello vs. Jira

Planning triggers

The team collectively monitors the number of tasks relative to the time left in the iteration. A “planning trigger” occurs when too many or too few work items remain. This trigger prompts a spontaneous meeting to fix this imbalance between to-dos and time. Elements from the three- or six-month bucket may unexpectedly move to “work in progress” as a result.

This on-the-fly collaboration is particularly important because Scrumban doesn’t otherwise mandate any meetings beyond the initial planning session.

Feature freeze

As the project nears its deadline, restrictions are placed on tasks. In particular, the team may only complete work-in-progress and high-priority items. All other goals in the Scrumban board’s buckets are shelved.

This drawdown, known as a feature freeze, ensures things are wrapped up on time. It’s particularly crucial because of Scrumban’s lack of a centralized planner. In the absence of restrictions, workers will keep taking on more tasks independently.

How is Scrumban different from Scrum?

Think of Scrumban as a more flexible and faster-paced alternative to Scrum. It doesn’t dictate a specific amount of meetings or team members. Plus, there are no set roles, which allows anyone to tackle tasks with less red tape.

Scrumban vs. Scrum




Team roles


Scrum Master, Product Owner, Development Team

Number of team members

12 or fewer recommended

Between 5–10 members recommended

Meetings (“ceremonies”) required

Initial planning meeting—no others required

Initial planning meeting, Daily Scrum, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective

Work time frame

2 weeks or less per “iteration”

2–4 weeks per “sprint”

Task changes

Tasks may be modified, canceled, or rescheduled on the fly

Tasks are rigid and reliably executed to completion

One key difference is the tempo of work. Scrumban promotes speed. Indeed, each work cycle, known as an “iteration,” lasts only two weeks or less. Plus, tasks may change dramatically to meet deadlines. In contrast, Scrum discourages substantial task changes while encouraging four weeks per “sprint.” That’s twice as long!

The reason for this short duration goes back to Scrumban’s flexibility. It’s an ideal framework for constantly evolving projects. And with neither formal roles nor prescribed meetings, team members focus more on work. The result is a shorter deadline since less time is burned on meetings and bureaucracy.

Who should use Scrumban?

Teams that value flexibility, spontaneity, and autonomy are ideal candidates for Scrumban. Indeed, it’s a superb option if you like making decisions on the fly.

Beyond these liberal traits, the framework is best for visual learners. If you like the idea of a giant whiteboard where people can spell out accomplishments, Scrumban is your soulmate.

Let’s analyze a few other perfect candidates for Scrumban:

  • Time-restricted projects: Scrumban’s two-week iterations are ideal for teams facing tight deadlines.
  • Meeting-averse teams: Beyond an initial planning meeting, the framework discourages excessive boardroom get-togethers. This avoidance is excellent for experienced people that prefer more autonomy and focused work hours.
  • Flat hierarchy: Since Scrumban avoids formal roles, it’s best for small organizations already accustomed to a lack of traditional structure and power imbalances.

Bottom line, Scrumban is best for experienced teams desiring creativity, autonomy, and a visual project roadmap.

When should Scrumban not be used?

Highly rigid teams with strict protocols should avoid Scrumban. This categorization includes heavily regulated industries. For example, the relatively freewheeling framework would not suit HIPAA-compliant healthcare companies.

Scrumban also requires deep interpersonal trust and some autonomy to work. These traits are evident in the framework’s disregard for the formalities seen in Scrum. As a result, you shouldn’t use the framework if your team requires constant oversight.

Here are some other situations Scrumban wouldn’t suit:

  • Slower-paced teams: Scrumban’s two-week work cycles are shorter than other frameworks, like Scrum. These 14-day iterations may feel too tight for your needs.
  • Junior, less-experienced teams: Since efficiency is a top priority, Scrumban works best with mid-level or higher workers that need minimal mentoring.
  • Non-negotiable workloads: With Scrumban, it’s best practice to assign one task per person, per iteration. Moreover, the task list is dynamic since a planning trigger can throw plans up in smoke. As a result, the framework is a poor choice if you prefer strict adherence to a predetermined task list.

These scenarios are only some circumstances that make Scrumban ill-advised. But generally speaking, if your team isn’t equipped for independence, spontaneity, and a creative, fast-paced approach to work, you’re best looking elsewhere.

Consider Scrumban if it makes sense for you

Scrumban is a more flexible and less formal alternative to Scrum. It also includes elements of Kanban. With these hybrid traits in mind, no roles or meetings are required, and work cycles last two weeks or less. And luckily for visual learners, the project management framework revolves around a chart known as a Scrumban board.

Despite these advantages, Scrumban isn’t for everyone. Heavily regulated industries, teams lacking experience, and preferences for highly predictable workloads are a few scenarios where the framework won’t succeed.

Scrumban FAQ

A chief difference is that Scrumban places time limits on work cycles. On the other hand, kanban focuses on completing tasks en route to the broader project deadline. This longer-term picture is known as a cumulative flow.

And while Scrumban emphasizes autonomy, it is more restrictive than kanban. For example, a project manager has more authority over tasks in Scrumban than in kanban.

There are no mandatory events in Scrumban beyond the initial planning meeting. Instead, teams are encouraged to craft their own event schedules. This differs from Scrum, which outlines four specific events required during each work period, known as a “sprint.”

Still, it’s good practice to arrange several meetings as part of a Scrumban plan. Some common huddles include daily standups, product delivery reviews, and backlog refinement sessions. And if there is a mismatch between time and remaining tasks, a “planning trigger” meeting is recommended to fix this imbalance.

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