A project management methodology is a set of rules or instructions that provide a standardized way of managing a project or, as the project management institute(PMI) says, it is “a system of practices, techniques, procedures, and rules used by those who work in the discipline.” The proficiency of a methodology depends upon the Project budget, Timeline Size, Stakeholder expectations, team, project-type, project-scope, and several other factors. Therefore, choosing the right method depending upon these factors is very crucial.
There are several project management methodologies available, some of which are:
- Critical Path Method (CPM)
- Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM)
- Integrated Project Management (IPM)
- PRINCE2 (Projects IN Controlled Environments)
- PRiSM (Projects integrating Sustainable Methods)
- Six Sigma
- Feature Driven Development (FDD)
- Dynamic Systems Development (DSDM)
- Rational Unified Process (RUP)
- Lean Development (LD).
And the list goes on.
Too many options always lead to confusion. Often, it is a tough call when a project manager has to select the most appropriate methodology for project management.
In this scenario, to help a project manager in selecting the most suitable project management methodology, we will evaluate Kanban and Scrum, two of the most popular and commonly used methods.
To analyze their characteristics, let us first evaluate them individually by defining their respective process.
The Scrum process
Scrum works on constant evaluation and communication. It is an agile project management methodology used primarily for software development projects. With short release cycles and re-prioritizing, Scrum provides the acknowledgment that a team can not know everything about the project right from the start. It lets the team grow as they go and increases their understanding through self-evaluation. By following these criteria, it ensures not only higher productivity and better quality but also employee satisfaction and better team coordination.
With three roles, three artifacts, and five events, the Scrum framework has 11 essential elements.
1. Scrum product owner
Scrum product owners are like project leads with a little more privilege. They are responsible for managing the product backlog, coordinating with the team, analyzing the customer requirements, partnerships, and also the release of the product.
2. Scrum master
Scrum Masters are the team leads. They work closely with the development team and are mainly responsible for mentoring and making sure that the team adheres to the scrum rules. They also ensure the optimization of the whole process.
3. Scrum development team
Scrum development team is a small group of people with a diversified skill set who perform the actual development of the product. These people are expected to work together and help each other in understanding all the modules of the process.
1. Product Backlog: It is a list of work maintained by the product owner/manager, which is to be assigned to the team.
2. Sprint Backlog: It is the list of the work being done by the development team. The work to be added in this list is selected by the team in a sprint planning meeting.
3. Sprint Goal: This is referred to as a state when a sprint completes. It may mean the release of the product or completion of a major task depending upon the team’s perspective and goal.
A sprint is a time taken for the scrum team to complete one goal. It is usually as long as two weeks.
2. Sprint Planning Sprint
This event is held to decide the work to be completed in the sprint. The work is selected from the product backlog by the Scrum team along with the Scrum master.
3. The Daily Stand-up
It is a daily event that ensures that the team stays on the same page. Along with the acknowledgment of the work completed, the team also decides the work to be done the next day.
4. The Sprint Review
The product owner and the stakeholders receive a demonstration of the completed work. The work is then checked against the pre-agreed criteria, and feedback is given along with further instructions.
5. The Retrospective
This event is held for the self-evaluation of the team. After discussing the completed sprint, the team, along with the Scrum master, reflects on their performance and consider further optimizations.
The Kanban methodology is explained through the following principles:
- Visualize Work
Rather than focusing on the tasks, the Kanban principle emphasizes on the visualization of those tasks along with the consideration of the amount of time needed to complete them.
2. Limit work in process
To maintain a proper workflow and reduce the pressure on the team, the Kanban principle states that the work-in-progress should be restricted. New work is started only if the previous one is completed, and hence it avoids the piling up of work.
3. Focus on flow
The value of existing roles and responsibilities is kept constant no matter what changes the project undergoes. This ensures that the flow of the project is not affected as the key roles are kept constant.
4. Continuous Improvement
Individual leadership is promoted in the Kanban principle. To reduce the dependency of resources on each other and ensure highly optimized modules, each individual is given the responsibility of his own module.
Kanban vs. Scrum
1. Roles and Responsibilities
In Scrum methodology, there are specific roles assigned to every person involved in the team. Each member acts according to his role; for example, a Scrum master leads and mentors the Scrum development team, which carries out the sprints. These roles can be managed on the scrum board with their respective permissions.
On the other hand, in Kanban methodology, a kanban board is made to enable visualization of the process, which is maintained by the product manager, and there are no other roles defined.
While a scrum board consists of sprints of individual processes displayed according to the sprint planning, a kanban board shows all the tasks going on with no specific deadlines but the ones given by the product owner.
A scrum board lets us monitor the active sprints without any control over the display of tasks, whereas in Kanban board, all tasks are represented on the board differentiated through different visualization effects like color.
4. Modifications / Changes
Making changes mid-process is possible in the kanban board by a simple drag-drop method or add-delete method.
A scrum board, however, does not allow changes or modifications in the sprint and rather requires a change in the whole process.
5. Key performance indicators
To keep a check on performance, Scrum boards usually have the following charts:
- Burndown chart: Visual representation of the work in progress or remaining
- Velocity chart: Histograms showing the past performance
Kanban constitutes of the following metrics:
- Lead time: Life of particular work on the board
- Cycle time: Time taken to complete the work
The most appropriate conclusion derived from their evaluation is that both the scrum board and Kanban board are built upon excellent methodologies and are a great choice for project management.
While a Kanban board is more suitable for projects having multiple interdependent modules with different priorities, the Scrum board is the optimum choice for teams requiring continuous evaluation and constant priorities.