1. Project management crash course
Project management involves applying processes, methods, skills, knowledge, and experience to meet specific objectives within agreed-upon parameters, in line with project acceptance criteria. It necessitates skilfully navigating the triple constraints, also known as Dempster’s Triangle, which include time, budget, and scope (with a goal of achieving the quality output). Balancing these constraints requires strategic decision-making and adept prioritization to ensure that no aspect is compromised significantly. Successful project managers utilize a variety of tools and techniques to monitor and control these constraints, ensuring that the project progresses smoothly towards its goals while adhering to its predefined criteria.
The choice of methodology significantly impacts the management of project constraints. Generally, project management approaches can be categorized into two main types. The first is the traditional approach, commonly known as the waterfall, which follows a linear and sequential path. The second is the agile, a more adaptive approach that encompasses a variety of evolving practices. Both approaches offer distinct ways to navigate constraints, ensuring that project objectives are met efficiently. Scrum and Kanban, mentioned in the article headline, are both that fall under the agile approach to project management. By merging Scrum and Kanban, a new framework known as Scrumban has emerged.
2. Scrumban 101
Scrumban was created with an emphasis on providing flexibility and ensuring a smooth transition for teams that are already well-versed in Scrum and wish to integrate Kanban practices into their routine. By skilfully combining the organized and systematic approach of Scrum with Kanban’s focus on continuous improvement and flow-based principles, Scrumban allows teams to slowly embrace lean methodologies without causing upheaval in their current processes. This approach is particularly beneficial for teams seeking to enhance their productivity and efficiency without undergoing a drastic change. By introducing Kanban’s visual management and real-time communication techniques, teams can identify bottlenecks and streamline their workflow more effectively. Furthermore, Scrumban’s adaptive nature ensures that teams can make adjustments as needed, fostering an environment of continuous learning and improvement. In this way, Scrumban acts as a stepping stone, guiding teams through a gradual transition while still allowing them to maintain a sense of familiarity and control. The blend of predictability from Scrum and responsiveness from Kanban equips teams to deliver high-quality work consistently and adapt to changes swiftly. Below, in Image 2, it is possible to observe the integration of both Scrum and Kanban methodologies.
3. Engineering of Scrumban
In the Scrumban framework, tasks are broken down into concise segments called Iterations, which can be thought of as compact versions of Scrum sprints, and these are represented on enhanced Kanban board known as a Scrumban board. When it’s time to initiate and sustain the workflow, On-Demand planning meetings are organized to decide on the User Stories and Tasks that need to be addressed in the forthcoming Iteration. These meetings serve as a platform for team members to discuss, prioritize, and estimate the effort required for each user story and task. By collaboratively deciding on the scope of work for the upcoming iteration, teams can ensure that they are aligned on goals and can effectively allocate resources to meet project deadlines.
In Scrumban, work iterations closely resemble Scrum’s sprints, with the objective of delivering a potentially shippable product increment upon their conclusion, ensuring that teams maintain a focused and time-bound approach to their development efforts while maintaining flexibility in adapting to evolving project requirements. The primary distinctions between Scrumban and Scrum lie in two key aspects.
- Scrumban iterations are typically of shorter duration when compared to Scrum sprints, allowing for more frequent assessment and adaptation.
- In Scrumban, tasks within iterations are not assigned to specific team members; instead, team members have the autonomy to choose their tasks based on their expertise and the team’s collective understanding of the work, fostering a more self-organizing and collaborative environment.
The duration of iterations is usually quantified in weeks, with the perfect length being contingent on the unique requirements of the work process and the specific industry. To ensure that these iterations remain brief and manageable, a restriction is imposed on the maximum number of tasks permitted in the To-Do column. It is commonly suggested that, for optimal efficiency, iterations should ideally not surpass a two-week timeframe (especially in IT industry).
On-demand planning is a distinctive feature of the Scrumban framework, diverging from Scrum which may require daily stand-up meetings. In Scrumban, planning is not dictated by a set schedule but is instead triggered when the number of tasks in the “To-Do” column of the Scrumban board falls below a predefined threshold. This adaptive approach ensures that planning is responsive to the team’s needs. During an on-demand planning event the team convenes to select and if necessary, define new tasks, drawing primarily from a 3-month bucket of work (to learn more about Bucket size planning, please refer to the 3.1 subparagraph). These tasks are then added to the “To-Do” section, with a recommendation to prioritize them either by numbering or by arranging them in order of importance. The threshold for initiating on-demand planning is flexible and can be adjusted based on the team’s pace and the time required to plan a new iteration. This pull system ensures that planning is both efficient and tailored to the project’s demands.
3.1. Bucket size planning
Bucket size planning is an integral component of the Scrumban approach, assisting teams in efficiently organizing and prioritizing their tasks. Within Scrumban, work elements are sorted into distinct “buckets” or groups, each signifying a different timeframe or level of priority. This method ensures that tasks are systematically arranged, making it easier for teams to focus on immediate goals while also keeping track of long-term objectives. By categorizing tasks in this manner, teams can seamlessly shift their attention and resources as priorities evolve, ensuring a steady progression towards their goals. Below, Image 3 illustrates bucket size planning with accompanying description.
- 3-month bucket is focused on short-term goals and immediate tasks that the team needs to address in the upcoming iterations. Once the company is prepared to initiate the execution of a strategy initially placed in the 6-month timeframe, it is transferred to the 3-month category and broken down into distinct tasks that can be carried out by the development team.
- 6-month bucket contains tasks that are of medium-term priority, with a more defined scope and clearer objectives. Once the company opts to proceed with a plan or concept originally housed in the 1-year bucket, it is transferred to the 6-month bucket. In the 6-month bucket, the primary requirements are clarified and clearly defined.
- 1-year bucket includes tasks and initiatives that are part of the long-term strategic plan (releasing a new product, entering a new market, revitalizing an existing product).
- “To-Do” section serves as a repository for the product backlog, containing a compilation of tasks slated for completion in the next iteration.
- “Doing” section signifies the tasks that are actively being worked on, known as Work in Progress (WIP). In real-world applications, this column is often further divided into specialized categories such as “design”, “coding”, “testing”, “reviews”, and more, as depicted in the accompanying graphic. The overarching goal is to enable teams to effortlessly track progress, strategically prioritize tasks, and pinpoint areas necessitating enhancement.
- Once a task is successfully completed, the accountable team member transitions it to the “Done” section, offering a transparent view of the project’s ongoing progress to all stakeholders
In conclusion, the Scrumban board is a pivotal tool that facilitates efficient project management by visually representing tasks in different stages of completion. This systematic approach ensures that teams can easily monitor progress, prioritize effectively, and identify areas for improvement. The transparency provided by moving tasks through these sections ensures that all stakeholders are kept informed about the project’s status. Ultimately, the Scrumban board stands as a testament to the adaptability and effectiveness of combining different agile methodologies to enhance workflow management.
3.3. Forming Scrumban teams
The adaptable nature of Scrumban, which doesn’t require set team roles or a fixed team size, makes it a versatile approach that can be applied effectively across different team compositions and sizes. This flexibility guarantees that organizations can smoothly incorporate Scrumban into their current work processes without necessitating significant alterations in team structure or hierarchy. In the conventional Scrum framework, accountabilities such as “Scrum Master” and “Product Owner” have distinct and well-defined responsibilities.
In contrast, Scrumban supports a more collaborative structure, in which all team members have equal responsibilities and privileges. This inclusive approach promotes a feeling of ownership and responsibility among team members, mainly because tasks aren’t allocated by someone in higher position. Individuals have the freedom to pick tasks from the Scrumban board based on their skills, preferences, or the project’s immediate requirements. This self-directed approach can result in enhanced job satisfaction and heightened productivity since team members are more engaged in tasks they’ve personally chosen.
Furthermore, the lack of strict roles promotes collaboration across different skill sets and encourages the sharing of knowledge among team members. This facilitates a seamless exchange of expertise and ideas, which can be especially advantageous when tackling intricate or multidisciplinary problems. Consequently, the Scrumban approach not only optimizes workflow but also contributes to the development of a unified and cooperative team atmosphere.
In essence, Scrumban’s approach to team roles and task assignment is designed to be inclusive, empowering, and conducive to fostering a proactive and self-sufficient team culture. By allowing teams to maintain their existing roles and choose their tasks, Scrumban ensures that the transition to this agile methodology is smooth and that the team continues to operate efficiently and collaboratively.
3.4. Scrumban unpacked: Exploring the Advantages and Drawbacks
This subchapter offers an extensive examination of the advantages and disadvantages associated with the implementation of the Scrumban methodology. Below, a detailed analysis of the pros and cons is provided, assessing its impact on time efficiency, project handling, workflow visibility, team transparency, adoption ease, and team dynamics.
|Time Efficiency||Scrumban eliminates frequent sprint planning, saving time by planning only when necessary.|
|Project Handling||Suitable for large projects, allowing distribution and prioritization of tasks in various time buckets.|
|Workflow visibility||Scrumban boards reveal bottlenecks in the workflow, aiding in identifying stages that slow down the process.|
|Team transparency||Ensures everyone is aligned by visualizing all tasks and project statuses.||Tracking individual contributions can be challenging due to self-assignment of tasks.|
|Adoption ease||Easy to adopt with a simple process and no requirement for role changes.||The flexibility can lead to a mix of methodologies if best practices are not established.|
|Team dynamics||Promotes equality and reduces stress as team members choose their tasks.||The project manager may have less control as there are no mandatory daily stand-ups.|
Table 1 Overview of Scrumban Pros and Cons
In conclusion, Scrumban emerges as a time-efficient and flexible methodology, adept at handling large projects and promoting transparency and equality within teams. The approach allows team members to self-assign tasks, fostering a sense of ownership and potentially reducing stress. However, the lack of clearly defined best practices and the difficulty in tracking individual contributions can pose challenges. Additionally, project managers may find their control to be somewhat limited due to the absence of mandatory daily stand-ups and the egalitarian nature of task assignment.
4. Navigating the Agile landscape: Understanding the differences between Scrum, Kanban, and Scrumban
In this subchapter, a comparative analysis of Scrum, Kanban and Scrumban is presented. Each agile approach is examined for its unique characteristics to aspects such as role accountability, board structure, task assignment, and more. The objective is to highlight the distinctive features and potential advantages of each approach through a side-by-side comparison. Through this examination, teams are equipped to make informed decisions on adopting a methodology that aligns well with their goals and operational dynamics.
|Aspect||Scrum||Kanban||Scrumban||Which is better?|
|Role/Accountability||Defined accountabilities (Scrum Master, Product Owner, Development Team)||No specific roles required||No specific roles; existing roles are maintained||Depends on team structure|
|Board structure||Sprints with set timeframes||Continuous flow||Combines sprints and continuous flow||Scrumban for flexibility|
|Task assignment||Tasks are assigned during sprint planning||Team members pull tasks as capacity allows||Team members choose tasks from the board||Scrumban for autonomy|
|Iterations||Fixed-length sprints (usually 2-4 weeks)||No fixed iterations; continuous delivery||Flexible; can have sprints or continuous delivery (recommendable 2 weeks)||Scrumban for flexibility|
|WIP limits||No explicit limits; determined by sprint capacity||WIP limits for each stage of the process||Optional WIP limits||Kanban for clear limits|
|Change adaptability||Changes discouraged mid-sprint||Changes can be made anytime||Adaptable to changes at any time||Kanban & Scrumban for adaptability|
|Prioritization||Prioritized in the backlog before the sprint starts||Prioritized continuously||Continuous prioritization||Kanban & Scrumban for continuous prioritization|
|Release cycle||At the end of each sprint||Continuous or as needed||Flexible; can be at end of sprint or continuous||Scrumban for flexibility|
|Focus||Commitment to a set of features in a sprint||Flow and throughput||Balances commitment and flow||Scrumban for balanced focus|
|Scaling||Can be scaled using frameworks like SAFe, LeSS||Scales naturally||Can be scaled and is adaptable||Depends on project size|
Table 2 Overview of Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban
In conclusion, Scrum, Kanban, and Scrumban offer distinct approaches to project management, catering to different needs and work environments. Scrumban is often considered slightly better in certain contexts because it combines the strengths of both Scrum and Kanban, offering a balanced and flexible approach to project management. It provides teams with the structure of Scrum’s iterations while also allowing for the adaptability and continuous flow of Kanban. This hybrid methodology is particularly beneficial for teams that require the ability to respond to changes quickly without being confined to fixed sprints. Additionally, Scrumban’s emphasis on visualizing work, limiting work in progress, and allowing team members to pull tasks as capacity allows can lead to increased efficiency and reduced stress. By integrating features from both methodologies, Scrumban can be a versatile choice that caters to a wide range of projects and team dynamics. On the other hand, Scrumban has certain drawbacks that teams should carefully consider.
It’s crucial to emphasize that selecting the appropriate methodology necessitates thoughtful deliberation of factors like team size, project scope, and adaptability requirements. A deep understanding of each method’s strengths allows teams to customize their approach for the best results. Ultimately, the most suitable approach aligns with a team’s objectives, streamlines efficiency, and promotes a cooperative and productive atmosphere.
5. BONUS CHAPTER
As a bonus, this chapter presents a handy cheat sheet to guide teams through the Scrumban process flow. Outlining key steps from project backlog creation to daily standup meetings, this concise reference serves as a quick go-to guide. Designed to enhance understanding and ease of implementation, this bonus chapter aims to support teams in seamlessly integrating Scrumban into their workflows.
⦁ Project Backlog creation:
- At the start, create a backlog with all known requirements, features, and outcomes.
- Continuously add new requirements as discovered.
⦁ WIP (Work In Progress) list:
- Before each iteration, create a WIP list of items from the backlog to accomplish in the upcoming sprint.
- Place the WIP items in the “To-Do” column on the Scrumban board.
⦁ Task progression:
- Team members pick tasks from the “To-Do” column, move them to “in progress”, and upon completion, to the “done” column.
- Only one task is worked on at a time per team member.
⦁ Planning meeting:
- If the “To-Do” column has too few tasks (e.g., only five left), hold a planning meeting to add more items to the WIP, even if the iteration isn’t over.
⦁ Daily Standup meetings (optional):
- Teams discuss what was completed in the last 24 hours, plans for the next 24 hours, and any challenges faced.
To optimize the implementation of Scrumban, it is recommended that teams invest in training to ensure a clear understanding of both Scrum and Kanban principles. Utilizing visual tools, such as digital or physical Scrumban boards, can enhance transparency and facilitate efficient task tracking. Regularly revisiting and prioritizing the backlog ensures that the team focuses on high-impact tasks, while embracing the flexibility of Scrumban allows for swift adaptation to changes. Fostering open communication and maintaining a balance between autonomy in task selection and accountability for timely completion can further streamline the process. By incorporating some of these suggestions, teams can effectively leverage Scrumban for improved project management outcomes.