integration and implementation of technology-focused business solutions

The value of integrating kanban and scrum-agile

January 2nd, 2018

In the world of software development, most organizations use the scrum-agile approach or a kanban approach. But it's not unusual to find organizations that wonder if the other way might be better.

That usually happens with organizations that are entrenched in the way they develop software via scrum methodology, and they start to wonder if kanban might be a better approach.

In some cases, a software company will look at the alternate solution and decide to pick and choose some features that can be applied to the process they’ve already built. That’s exactly what we’ve done at LSG. We’ve taken what we consider to be the best of both worlds and combined them into a process that works for us and our clients.

Scrum-agile and kanban aren’t competitors in terms of software methodologies. They’re simply two different ways of doing things, and pieces of each have valuable application in the software development world.

For example, scrum-agile tends to focus on getting things done and marking them off the list. You may end up with a team of developers who are so focused on clearing out their tasks that it’s somewhat like when you clean four rooms in your house by throwing everything into another room. It’s out of sight and out of mind for the people who checked it off their list, but something still needs to be done to finish the job.

Kanban focuses on the importance of looking at the overall flow and the complete picture, not just one task at a time. The kanban approach encourages periodic review of what’s still incomplete and why, and it’s amazing the little reasons something may be incomplete. Brad needs to talk to Sharon who needs to talk to Mike who needs to talk to Lisa. No one really knows if the task if done or not, and before you know it, two months has passed.

Both scrum-agile and kanban are swim-lane oriented and focus on moving things from left to right until complete. But adding kanban helps give a better view of the work in progress and focuses on continuous improvement. It’s not just about “let’s get it done,” but also about, “how can we do it better?” While it may seem like a new approach for some in software development, it’s been proven successful again and again in lean manufacturing.

For software companies that haven’t implemented either approach yet, I recommend going straight to the kanban mindset and implementing that first. Then you can go back and look at scrum to see if there’s anything extra to add from that methodology.

For software companies already using the scrum methodology, adding kanban doesn’t mean scrapping everything you have-it simply means modifying your process and adding the pieces that work best for your organization.

We’ve found an integration of both methodologies to be highly successful for our team at LSG Solutions, and we encourage other software developers to consider integrating them as well.

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