December 4, 2023

What Is Scrumban?

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Key takeaways

  • Scrumban is a unique blend of Scrum and Kanban methodologies, as it offers both structure and flexibility to project teams.
  • The guiding principles of Scrumban include visualizing the workflow, limiting work-in-progress, and being adaptable based on performance and feedback.
  • Various project management tools like monday.com, Jira, Wrike, ClickUp, and Businessmap offer features that support the implementation of Scrumban.

Dec. 4, 2023: Irene Casucian revised the copy for clarity, accuracy, and depth. She also added examples of project management software solutions that offer Scrumban-focused features.

The Scrumban methodology

Scrumban is a clever combination of Scrum and Kanban methodologies. Initially, it emerged as a transitional step for teams moving from Scrum to Kanban. However, it soon became apparent that Scrumban could stand independently and that it offered unique advantages. It caters to teams looking for a pull-based system, as it combines the iterative nature of Scrum with the continuous flow of Kanban.

What makes Scrumban compelling is how it matches the structured, iteration-based approach of Scrum with the flexibility and focus on work-in-progress (WIP) that Kanban offers. The guiding principles of Scrumban include visualizing the workflow, limiting WIP, and adapting plans based on actual performance and feedback. 

While you can keep traditional Scrum roles like product owner or scrum master, they’re not mandatory. The team is generally self-organizing and pulls tasks from a prioritized backlog. The Scrumban board, inspired by the Kanban board, visualizes tasks and workflow stages. WIP limits help team members focus on completing tasks before taking on new ones. That way, everyone knows what they’re doing, but there’s room for autonomy and adjustments.

How is Scrumban different from other project management methodologies?

Understanding the unique features of Scrumban and knowing how it differs from other approaches are crucial for effective project management. Having this knowledge helps you align the methodology with your project’s specific needs and challenges.

Scrumban
Waterfall
Basic framework Iterative and focuses on continuous improvement. Traditional, linear, and sequential.
Flexibility Highly flexible; adapts to changes mid-project. Rigid; costly to make changes once the project has started.
Delivery time Quick, continuous delivery in short cycles. Entire project delivered at the end of the cycle, which can mean a longer delivery time.
Risk and uncertainty Suited for high-risk projects, as it adapts to changes quickly. Riskier for uncertain projects. Errors can be costly in terms of time and resources.
Scrumban
Lean
Basic framework Originated in software development; focuses on continuous improvement and flow-based task management. Originated in manufacturing and focuses on waste elimination.
Flexibility Structured but allows for changes mid-sprint; adaptable to changing requirements. No prescribed roles; adaptable to various needs.
Delivery time Regular, predictable delivery in time-boxed sprints; allows for continuous flow. Streamlined processes for quick delivery; follows a continuous, pull-based flow of work.
Risk and uncertainty Manages risk through regular review and quick adjustments. Reduces risk by improving efficiency, with no specified roles or procedures for risk management.
Scrumban
CPM
Basic framework Used in software development; focuses on continuous improvement. Often used in construction and other non-software industries; focuses on the longest path of tasks.
Flexibility Highly flexible; adaptable even mid-project. Less flexible; changes require a re-evaluation of the critical path.
Delivery time Aims for continuous delivery; adjustable time frame. Time-focused; aims for the quickest route to project completion based on the critical path.
Risk and uncertainty Suited for high uncertainty; allows for real-time decision-making. Not ideal for uncertain projects; assumes known and constant time and resources for tasks.

Discover tailored solutions that can adapt to your unique project needs: 6 Customizable Software Tools for Agile Project Management.

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: Scrumban discourages excessive boardroom get-togethers after the initial planning meeting, which is excellent for experienced people who 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 where Scrumban wouldn’t be suitable:

  • 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 who 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 of the 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.

Sample project management tools that support Scrumban

Selecting the right project management software is paramount for successfully implementing a Scrumban approach, as the tool can either streamline your workflow or become a bottleneck.

monday.com

monday.com can be very useful in implementing the Scrumban methodology. It offers Kanban views for workflow visualization and Scrum templates to ease the adoption of Scrum elements.

The platform supports real-time updates, which is essential for Scrumban’s iterative and flexible nature. Task assignments and notifications streamline the pull-based system, while file attachments and digital comments enhance communication and documentation. Moreover, its customization options allow teams to tailor their boards to meet the unique demands of a Scrumban approach.

Jira

Jira shines as a tool for Scrumban methodology by offering a blend of Scrum’s structured planning and Kanban’s flexibility. It enhances productivity, especially in complex projects, and fosters better team interaction during meetings.

Jira’s boards can be customized to reflect both Scrum and Kanban elements. This functionality allows for a real-time view of project status. It supports the Scrumban focus on customer value and process efficiency by enabling backlog prioritization and workflow visualization.

Wrike

Wrike is an adaptable tool when it comes to implementing the Scrumban methodology. First off, it supports the Scrum backlog approach, which is essential for planning, prioritizing, and allocating work. This is crucial for teams that want to maintain a structured approach to their projects.

Additionally, Wrike offers Kanban boards to visualize work and track progress. Having these boards makes it easier to identify bottlenecks and manage work-in-progress limits. This feature aligns well with the Kanban rules that Scrumban often incorporates.

ClickUp

ClickUp has a straightforward board view that serves as a Scrumban board, complete with drag-and-drop functionality for easy task management. Its custom task statuses and sort-and-filter features add flexibility to your workflow.

The platform also includes task prioritization and automation capabilities. These features streamline the Scrumban process. It also has comment sections for team collaboration and dashboards for project tracking.

Businessmap (formerly Kanbanize)

Businessmap, formerly known as Kanbanize, offers a variety of features that make it useful in Scrumban methodology. Businessmap provides multi-layered Kanban boards for workflow visualization, which is essential for Scrumban’s pull-based system.

The platform also allows for limiting work-in-progress, which helps teams focus on completing current tasks before taking on new ones. The platform’s customization options, such as business rules to automate processes, further enhance its suitability for Scrumban.

If you don’t think these Scrumban tools fit your project management needs, feel free to check out our comprehensive guide on Kanban tools. They offer a different approach that might be the perfect match for your workflow.

Does Scrumban align with your project goals?

Deciding whether Scrumban is a suitable methodology for your project requires careful consideration of a few key factors. It’s worth noting that Scrumban excels in flexible, adaptive environments.

Furthermore, the team’s familiarity with Agile frameworks should also be taken into consideration, as Scrumban blends elements of Scrum and Kanban. It’s beginner-friendly but benefits from an Agile background.

Also, evaluate your project timeline. Scrumban is geared towards continuous delivery rather than fixed deadlines. If your project has a strict timeline, other methodologies might be more appropriate. 

You should also be shrewd in picking the right project management tool. Scrumban is a visual methodology that thrives off of supportive project management software.

Choosing to use Scrumban should be a strategic choice based on your project’s needs, team expertise, and available tools. If these align with Scrumban’s strengths, it’s likely a good fit. 

You can also check our Agile project management software guide to explore a broader range of options that might better fit your PM needs.


Irene Casucian Avatar

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Featured Agile project management partners

1 Wrike

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Wrike is an Agile project management tool trusted by 20,000+ companies and over two million users. Plan sprints with Gantt charts, calendars, request forms, Kanban boards, time-tracking reports, approvals, real-time updates, and auto-assignment all in one place. Integrate Wrike with 400+ applications and Adobe Creative Cloud so you can use the tools you rely on every day. Customize workflows to suit each project's needs, and reduce the need for emails, meetings, status updates, and more.

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2 Visor

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Visor provides crystal clear alignment for agile teams. Create and share Gantt charts, roadmaps, and spreadsheet reports that stay in sync with apps like Jira and Salesforce. Add color-coding, Milestones, and more. Share accurate project plans with confidence. Visor is free to try. No credit card needed.

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