One of the emerging trends in software development is how organizations approach project management using hybrid methods. Some take on a mix of Agile and traditional approaches, while some stick to purely Agile ones.

Scrum is one of the most popular Agile methodologies and we’ve seen implementations of it combined with other Agile methods. One of the mash-ups that have gained popularity in recent years is Scrumban. If you’re new to this, we’ll guide you through implementing Scrumban to your project.

Kanban vs Scrum

In previous years, we’ve seen these two project management approaches pitted against each other. Some argue that Scrum is too rigid and that it requires a radical organizational change so they appreciate Kanban’s gradual approach to improvement. Others argue that Scrum’s ability to enforce team accountability and sense of urgency is what Kanban lacks.

While Kanban and Scrum both have their fair share of advantages, it’s important to highlight that they both embrace the values and principles of the Agile manifesto. Equally important is how Kanban can be used on top of any project management framework. And this includes Scrum. So instead of battling it out between the two, you can embrace the best of both worlds.

What is Scrumban?

Simply put, implementing Scrumban means using concepts from both Scrum and Kanban. However, there is no concrete definition as to what aspects of Scrum or Kanban get into a team’s implementation. The idea is that the team can get pieces of each method to create something that best support their goals and needs. Knowing what the team wants to improve will help them decide how to craft their own Scrumban practice.

What are Sprints? defines a Scrum Sprint as, “a time-box of one month or less during which a “Done”, usable, and potentially releasable product increment is created.” Sprints have a consistent duration throughout the project, the most commonly used being two-week sprints. Timeboxing is an effective method to drive performance, accountability, and focus on your team’s execution. So if you’re looking to add Sprints to your Kanban workflow, follow along as we give you 5 steps to do just that.

How to Implement Scrumban when Coming from Kanban

Implementing Scrumban from Kanban doesn’t have to be complicated. But before we get into the steps, I’d like to emphasize that before you start implementing Scrumban, it’s important that you’re already practicing Kanban properly. You must’ve got the five properties and four practices of Kanban to a tee. It’s not wise to add another layer to your current process when you haven’t had success with implementing the first one.

But if you’re all set to give Scrumban a try, here are five steps to introduce Sprints to your Kanban workflow.

Determine How Long Your Sprints Are

When coming from Kanban, you’re used to doing work continuously. A key shift when implementing Scrumban from Kanban is that your task cards now have a “deadline.” Decide what’s a reasonable Sprint duration for your team. If you’re doing a project with a target deadline, consider that when determining your cadence. Remember that Sprint durations need to be consistent throughout your project execution. A common Sprint duration used by most teams is 2 weeks.

Conduct a Scrum Sprint Planning Session

Now that you have your Sprint duration determined, it’s time to plan what you can finish within that Sprint. I’m talking about the specific tasks or features that you want to deliver. Sprint Planning is a Scrum ceremony where the team determines what tasks make it to the next sprint.

When doing a Sprint planning session, it’s good to have a Sprint goal in mind. What do you want to be delivered by the end of the Sprint? What are your priorities? How do they tie up to your goals? Use this to determine your Sprint scope. If you’re currently working on a product backlog, then it will be easier to pull the most important ones on top and slot that for your first sprint.

When determining just how much work you’ll take into a Sprint, you can use your historical Kanban metrics for this. If you have a two-week Sprint, check what’s your historical average throughput every two weeks. By doing so, you’re also factoring in your WIP limits.

Start and Complete Your Sprint

With your agreed Sprint scope, begin your Sprint and execute tasks as you would using your Kanban workflow. Make sure you update the cards in your Kanban board and that they reflect their current status. Even though your working in a Sprint, it’s important that your WIP limits are still followed.

Another Scrum practice that will be handy as you perform your Sprint is the Daily Stand-Up. It’s a Scrum ceremony where the team gathers for 15 minutes each workday to discuss how they’re going along in their Sprint. This is beneficial when implementing Scrumban as it provides a venue for the team to know if they can meet their Sprint goals or if there’s a need to adjust. During the Daily Stand-Up, gather around your Kanban board and discuss what still needs to be done to meet your Sprint goal. When the timebox has been met, update your Kanban board and reflect your accomplishments, as well as those that were not finished, if there are any.

Review Your Sprint

Congratulations on completing your first Sprint! Now, it’s time to reflect on it. Another Scrum concept that I recommend you use when implementing Scrumban is the ceremony called Sprint Retrospective. The Sprint Retrospective is an event where the team discusses the Sprint that had passed and assesses what went well, what may have gone wrong, and what they need to do to improve the next Sprint. This regular meeting encourages teams to look for ways to continuously improve, which is an innate property of Kanban.

If you’ve been doing Kanban for quite some time, you may have been doing something similar to a Retrospective. If so, you can keep your current format. Only the frequency may change, in this case, it would be based on your Sprint length.

Iterate and Continuously Improve

The first Sprint has come and gone. It’s now time to move to the next. Armed with what you learned from and accomplished during the previous Sprint, use that in your next Sprint Planning session. As you go through more Sprints, you’ll come up with ideas to address bottlenecks and inefficiencies in your Kanban workflow. At the same time, you’ll enhance the communication and collaboration within your team as you use the Scrum ceremonies. These will all help you improve your workflow and continuously deliver high-quality products and services to your end customers.

Kanban and Scrum Hybrid

By implementing Scrumban, you can leverage specific concepts from both methods that can help your team achieve better results and a smoother workflow. But don’t just jump into Scrumban without carefully assessing your current process. If things are working well, how would implementing Scrumban further improve it? If there are problems within your current methodology, how would Scrumban resolve it?

When teams decide to implement Scrumban, it must be a conscious decision to further improve their current process or solve a problem with their current methodology. You can read a more in-depth guide on switching from either Kanban or Scrum to Scrumban. Whichever approach you choose, it will always boil down to how it helps your team improve and the way you deliver your products and services.

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About the Author: Lena Boiser

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Lena Boiser is an Agile enthusiast. Starting off her career as a Software Business Analyst in 2010, she eventually performed other roles including Project Manager and IT Business Manager. When she was immersed in Agile methodologies in 2014, Lena found her way through honing her craft and eventually became a Certified Scrum Product Owner. In 2017, after 7 years of working in the corporate world, Lena started her own remote consulting practice. Today, she provides project management and Scrum Product Ownership services to various businesses including software development companies, e-Commerce business owners, and small to medium sized companies. She believes that even teams working remotely can harness the benefits of Agile in order to deliver results for their companies. In her free time she likes to write. One day she could be writing about Agile, the next she could be writing anything about fashion or travel.

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