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Jira Agile board: Scrum or Kanban?


Posted by
Anand UNADKAT

October 25, 2018

In a fast paced and ever-changing environments, more and more teams are using Agile methodologies to build and ship products that meet their customers expectations.

Since Jira version 7.x, Jira Agile has become Jira Software, which is a tool developed by Atlassian and designed to support Agile methodologies – both Scrum and Kanban – within Jira. It enables project teams who are already using Jira to adapt to Agile practices, the easy way. However, when configuring Jira Software, one big question arises: Scrum or Kanban?

If you are not familiar with agility, this article will provide you insights on which board to choose in Jira Software, and help you make the right decision for your team.

Scrum vs Kanban

Scrum Boards

A Scrum board is a board that was created using Scrum framework and is a board for teams who like to plan their work in greater detail before they can start a project. This usually includes creating sprints and giving story points to user stories in order to plan which story can go to each sprint. When you first create a Scrum board, you create a list of items which becomes the backlog. From there, you create different versions and sprints and move an issue from backlogs to sprints.

Scrum boards have a Plan mode and a Active Sprint mode. The Plan mode, as explained above, includes moving issues from backlogs and giving each one a time estimate. The Active Sprint mode is a column based view, where you can move cards (issues) across columns (statuses). It also gives you the ability to Complete Sprints.

Kanban Boards

Kanban by contrast allows users to start work without necessarily having a structured plan. The Kanban board uses the same column-based interface as Scrum Active Sprint board for tracking the status of tasks, however without the ability to organize these into sprints. This board will deal with all the issues in the project rather than a portion of them. Kanban boards, as opposed to Scrum boards, work well without having to give your user stories time estimates.

In the recent version of Jira Core, users are able to create Kanban boards to track their tasks. You will not have all the features that come with the Kanban board in Jira Software.

Comparison

Here is a comparison listing differences in features between Scrum and Kanban boards.

Category Scrum Kanban
Planning When a ticket is created it will initially go into the backlog. From the backlog, it can be estimated and details can be added before it goes into a sprint and appear under Active Sprints. Any issue that is added to a Kanban board will by default automatically fall into the backlog column. There is also an option to enable a Kanban backlog which is not enabled by default.
Board View Scrum boards show the work that a team has commited to under a specific time-frame. This work will show as sprints and progress is measured by how much work that will be completed within each sprint. Kanban boards shows all the work a team has commited to but can be configured to only display e.g. the most recently added issues. Progress is measured by looking at how many issues are within each column, and restrictions can be applied to only allow e.g. 3 issues in progress at the same time.
Workflow The statuses of the workflows associated with the Scrum boards will determine which columns can be displayed. In order to change the columns, the workflows have to be changed. With Kanban boards it is a easier to change your workflow. You can map columns to the statuses of your workflow. This can also be changed in the future if the workflow changes, by simply adding or removing columns as required.
Reports With Scrum boards, you can see many types of reports even while you are in the middle of the sprint.

An example is the Burndown Chart – check how the team progress towards their commitment. If the scope has changed while the sprint is still on, this will also be reflected here. Other charts include: Sprint Report, Epic Report, Velocity Chart, Version Report, etc.

Kanban also allows teams to view reports.

One chart that is quite useful with Kanban is the Control Chart. This will allow you to measure the cycle time for issues. For example, showing the mean time and actual time taken to complete issues.

Maintenance Scrum boards allows you gain full control and plan your work in great detail, but it requires more configuration time if any changes needs to be done. Since Kanban boards don’t work with estimates in the same way as Scrum boards and are more simple to manage, Kanban boards requires less maintenance.

Some criteria to help you make your decision

So how would you know which one is best for you? Well, there are simple things that you need to look out for:

Setting up speed

If you are looking to start working on a board quickly and with minimal configurations, then Kanban is the way forward. Other than creating new columns and mapping your statuses, Kanban requires very little configuration and enables users to get started pretty much instantly.

In the recent versions of Jira Cloud, it is possible to create a next-gen software project which allows you get going with either a Scrum or Kanban board with minimal configuration.

Detailed overview of the project

If you are looking for more detailed tracking of your project progress, then Scrum; with its planned sprints, story points,  and assortment of charts and reporting tools (Burndown Chart, Sprint Report, Epic Report, Velocity Chart, Version Report etc), is the best option for you.

Functionalities

Scrum allows a lot more functionalities than Kanban, simply because Scrum involves a lot more planning before you can actually begin to work on an issue. With Kanban it’s more straightforward, simply getting the issues on the board and mapping them to the correct status. Scrum also comes with more reporting capabilities than Kanban.

Ease of use

Scrum can be quite complex to set up due to the amount of planning involved. You have to add versions, story points, sprints, keep track of the issues that are in the backlog and in the sprint, issues that have been completed in the closed sprints etc. This can be too much to handle for some users, whereas with Kanban, you can see all the issues within a project on one board. Kanban is suitable for business teams who care more about their task management and where it is at every given point.

Project Size

This is also a very key aspect of the decision making. If you are working on a small scale project with only a limited number of issues, then Kanban is undoubtedly the simpler option. With a larger scale project however, with greater numbers of concurrent issues, developers, Scrum will offer greater organization, process management, and overview. Projects that follow Scrum framework will benefit highly from using the Scrum board.

Conclusion

Both Scrum and Kanban methodologies are great, but they are no one size fits all. Making the right decision for your team at the very start can save from the burden of carrying complex changes in workflows and habits.

We’d love to hear from you: what choice criteria is the most important according to you? Let us know in the comment section! If you’re still not exactly sure, click below to get in touch with one of our certified Atlassian consultants.