Scrum vs kanban – have a smooth transition

arrowsWith agile methodologies being as popular as ever, there is no surprise that people are picking their favorites. Some (well actually most) prefer scrum, while others choose kanban. However, what does happen when teams decide that their choice is no longer fitting and go for a switch? Most struggle. Instead of having a smooth transition they go down a rocky road for some time before finally reaching the light. The good news is – you don’t have to.

Switching from one methodology to another makes sense in a lot of cases – your requirements, team, circumstances and other things may change during time and working in the same way may no longer be fitting. To make sure the good intentions of bettering the teams process are well met, you should focus not only on choosing the best approach, but implementing it in the right way as well. And to do that, you simply have to follow these 3 rules:

1. Understand the differences.

When switching from one agile approach to the other, teams should think of it as adopting a completely new methodology altogether. Sure, they are both agile methodologies run in iterations and focused on value, however this does not bring them even close to being the same. Scrum is a very structured step by step approach, with clear roles and a set of rules, while kanban has a more at ease, let the team manage themselves attitude. So, when you decide to switch from one to the other, make sure to fully understand each and every difference. The way you plan, commit to and complete your work will change and you might feel that it is not as effective as it used to be if you are not prepared to embrace it.

2. Prepare the team

Once you understand the changes in the work process, you will need to start preparing your team as well. People often underestimate the effect of changing the agile work process on the team, but it is them that have to complete the actual work and use the method daily. As with any changes, the team may be resistant to let go of what is known and common to them, therefore it will be your job to communicate, explain and ask for them to accept the changes. Without guidance and example from a strong leader, they may just keep working the way they used to, pretending to adopt the new way.

3. Take it slow.

Lastly, you have to remember that any substantial change takes time. The bigger your team – the more time you may need. In this case, when moving away from one approach to the next, the best thing is not to go all in. Instead, introduce new practice peace by peace and slowly eliminate the old one in a way that makes most sense to your team. For example, when moving away from scrum to kanban, do not immediately change the iteration time, instead keep your previous sprint time as a guide and adjust it after a few runs to make more sense – you will put no pressure on the team and allow them to find new rhythm naturally.

Any changes within a team are only valuable when they are done right and in the case of switching from one agile methodology to another, this could not be truer. While it may seem, that these methods are more or less the same, it will not seem so to your team, once you start the project. And if you do not take some time to understand, communicate and implement the new practice to them, you may face even less productivity than before. Therefore as with any novelty, make sure to do it right and you will only have to do it once!

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