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Scrumban Project Management

Scrumban is a game‑changing approach to project management. Explore how its seamless blend of Scrum and Kanban leads to enhanced efficiency and success.

If you use Agile methods in project management, your goal is to get great results in the most efficient way. But sometimes, popular frameworks like Scrum or Kanban might not work perfectly for your team. Maybe Scrum is too strict with its schedules. Or Kanban is too open-ended for your needs.  

In such cases, a hybrid approach like Scrumban could offer just what your team needs. Scrumban combines Scrum and Kanban, letting team members pick new tasks when they’re ready while keeping everything organized and transparent. This empowers your team, boosts flexibility, and creates efficient workflows.

Want to learn more about how the Scrumban methodology works? Keep reading to see why it’s becoming the go-to Agile approach for many modern teams.

The fusion of Scrum and Kanban methodologies

Scrumban is a mix of 2 Agile methodologies: Scrum and Kanban. This framework takes Scrum’s planned, short work cycles (sprints) and blends them with Kanban’s ongoing workflow and visual task display. The result is a truly flexible system for managing complex ongoing projects.

Teams using Scrumban organize work in sprints to provide focus and drive progress. But instead of preset scopes, the sprint task lists (backlogs) stay lightweight. A pull system lets tasks enter each sprint based on priority, capacity, and work-in-process (WIP) limits. This fusion gives teams structure while promoting fluidity, helping them deliver ongoing value to their clients.

Originally, Scrumban helped teams move from Scrum to Kanban or vice versa. Switching between these Agile methodologies was often too drastic, so Scrumban eased the transition. It allowed teams to learn and experiment with the new concepts before fully letting go of their prior methods. Over time, Scrumban evolved into its own standalone system for managing projects.

Scrum’s essential elements

Scrum is an Agile project management method created in the early 1990s. Software development teams were the first to see its value. This framework allowed them to adapt to rapidly changing requirements, work together better, and speed up product delivery.

Since then, the Scrum framework has been widely adopted across various industries. It works like this: The Scrum team works in timeboxed sprints lasting 1-4 weeks to finish tasks chosen from the backlog. They also have short daily meetings to talk about the work and solve problems.

At the end of each sprint, the Scrum team reviews what they did and plans the next one. Plus, they regularly look back at their work during retrospectives to find what to improve about the Scrum process.

So, which elements were brought to Scrumban from Scrum?

  • Planning in sprint cycles and reviewing the results
  • Setting limits on how much work to do in each sprint
  • Choosing the most important tasks to do next in real time
  • Making sure everything is well understood before starting to work on it
  • Having a list to organize tasks ready to start but not being worked on yet

Kanban’s key components

Kanban is another Agile approach, created in the 1940s as a lean manufacturing technique at Toyota. It was later adapted by software development teams to improve workflows and better visualize progress. Many teams in other industries also adopted it after seeing its simplicity and effectiveness.  

At the center of the Kanban methodology is a visual board, known as a Kanban board. This board helps teams see the progress of their work at a glance. It’s typically divided into columns like To Do, In Progress, and Done. This visual approach allows teams to track and manage their tasks easily.

Like Scrum, Kanban limits the number of tasks being worked on at any one time. There are also regular meetings, but not necessarily daily, to discuss progress and tackle any issues. In addition, Kanban teams regularly review their process to find ways to improve.

Key aspects brought over to Scrumban from Kanban are:

  • Keeping work organized using a physical or digital Kanban board 
  • Using a pull system to start new tasks when there’s room for them
  • Setting a maximum number of tasks to work on at the same time
  • Doing planning just in time instead of all at once
  • Keeping track of how long tasks take to help predict progress

Why Agile teams choose the Scrumban method  

In your Agile journey, you may wonder why the Scrumban method is a popular choice for teams like yours. Well, here are some compelling reasons to consider this hybrid project management methodology.

Promotes more effective Scrumban team collaboration

Teamwork is at the heart of the Scrumban approach. By mixing Scrum and Kanban, this framework can help your team work together more effectively. It encourages talking openly, being clear about work, and sharing responsibility for a stronger, more united team.

Enables Scrumban teams to change direction on the fly

With Scrumban, your team can change their plans quickly when needed. For example, you might need to pivot swiftly if user feedback suggests a high demand for an unplanned feature. This flexibility allows your team members to seamlessly adjust their approach and deliver what your clients need most.

Employs flow diagrams to expose process weaknesses

Scrumban uses flow diagrams to show how work moves through a process. This continuous flow approach reveals where progress might be slowing down or getting stuck. Then, your team can use that visual guide to decide how to eliminate process weaknesses and improve workflows.

Supports continuous improvement of the work process

Regular Scrumban meetings and retrospectives support continuous improvement. This helps your team improve their work quality and deliver ongoing value. Everyone benefits from this commitment to excellence because it often leads to more satisfying project outcomes. 

When project managers should use the Scrumban process

When managing projects, it’s not always clear which Agile methodology might work best. If you’re unsure when to choose Scrumban over Scrum and Kanban, here are some scenarios where it could be a wise choice.

Complex or large-scale projects

For sizable projects with lots of moving pieces, Scrumban provides much-needed flexibility while preventing chaos. Scrum’s sprints create an excellent workflow rhythm, while reviews offer clear milestones leading to the finish line. Moreover, the Kanban elements boost flow, so your team can confidently tackle complex or large-scale projects.

Transparent workflow management

Do you need a clear view of your project’s progress and potential bottlenecks? Scrumban’s visual board provides that transparency. This broad overview lets you stay informed and make good decisions throughout your project’s journey. It also keeps your team on the same page and closely working together on achieving shared goals.

Overloaded Scrum teams

When your Scrum team feels overwhelmed, Scrumban steps in as a flexible solution. When using this hybrid approach, your team can focus on high-value items without distractions. This aids in balancing their workload and preventing burnout, creating a healthier and more sustainable work environment.

How Scrumban teams use the Agile framework to manage projects  

Using Scrumban allows your team to adapt to changing project needs while maintaining a steady pace of work. This process begins with setting up the visual project board and defining WIP limits. From there, it’s an ongoing process of working, monitoring, and adjusting as the project progresses.

Here’s a look at the key elements in this framework. As you read on, keep in mind that it’s a somewhat fluid process, with teams moving through most elements as needed rather than in a strict order.

Setting up a Scrumban board and workflow stages

Typically, the first step is to set up the Scrumban board. This board is a central tool for the whole team, allowing an at-a-glance review of the project’s tasks. It usually has sections for each stage of work labeled To Do, In Progress, and Done.

You can add or modify these sections to better reflect your team’s workflow. For example, you might include stages like Testing, Review, and Awaiting Approval, depending on the nature of your work. Just make sure that the board accurately mirrors your project’s various steps.  

Set up the board during the initial sprint planning meeting. Write each task on separate cards and place them in the proper sections. As your team members start tasks, move their cards from To Do to In Progress. Each completed task will have its card moved to Done to end its journey across the board.

Defining WIP limits to best balance workloads

Like Scrum and Kanban, Scrumban requires that you set WIP limits. These limits determine how many tasks can be in the In Progress stage at the same time.

A practical approach to setting these limits is to start with 1-2 tasks per team member. This initial limit serves as a baseline but can be adjusted down the road. It’s simply there to help distribute work evenly among team members and avoid overloading any one person.

As your team becomes more familiar with their workflow and capacity, the WIP limits will likely need to be refined. Plan to regularly review the limits during planning, review, and retrospective meetings to ensure optimal efficiency.

Managing work items to ensure smooth progress on project goals

Once everyone starts working on their tasks, it’s important to keep an eye on how things are going. This will help you make sure that the project stays on track and is completed by the deadline.

For a baseline read on your team’s progress, check the project board daily to see where each task is at. Is it just starting, in progress, or finished? This will help you notice if a task is taking too long or if someone needs help. Then, you know to check in with the task owner to see if you can do anything to move things along.

A real-time view of the board also helps you spot dependencies that are slowing things down. For example, if one task can’t move to Done because it’s waiting for another task to be completed first, you might need to address the bottleneck. This might involve coordinating with the team members working on related tasks or refining the backlog.

Holding on-demand planning meetings for quick adjustments

Holding on-demand planning meetings is a key part of the Scrumban process. It’s good to have a specific reason, or trigger, for these meetings. This trigger could be something like a big change in the project or maybe when there are only a few tasks left on the board.

When this trigger happens, it’s a sign that you need to have a quick meeting to talk about what to do next. These meetings help you make fast decisions, so you can adjust your plans and keep the project on schedule.

For the most productive meetings, invite all relevant team members, project leaders, and managers to participate. Also, create a focused agenda and set a time limit to ensure the meeting doesn’t take up too much valuable time.

Achieve continuous process improvement with retrospectives

Scrumban allows you to constantly improve your processes through regular retrospectives. These are meetings where your entire team looks back on how things went and figures out ways to do better in the future. They’re typically held at the end of each sprint and again once the project’s finished.

The ideas and feedback you get from these meetings should help you make real changes in how you work. For instance, you might change how many tasks people get at once, how you prioritize tasks, or even how you conduct meetings. This could lead to more efficient processes, a deeply engaged team, and better project outcomes.  

Improve project outcomes with the Scrumban methodology  

Scrumban blends Scrum and Kanban to provide the flexibility, transparency, and constant improvement your team needs. It’s the ideal approach whether you’re handling complex projects, want to manage workflows better, or have overloaded Scrum teams. So, when your current management methods don’t click, consider trying the Scrumban methodology. You’ll be glad you made this switch when your team starts shipping work faster and delivering value with precision.

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