What Is Scrumban Anyway?


What Is Scrumban Anyway?


One thing that I really love about writing industry articles is that I’m constantly learning what’s new or trending. For example, all in the same week I was asked by Techbeacon if I would write an article about Mixing Scrum and Kanban, invited to review the book, The Scrumban [R]Evolution and invited to a Distributed Agile Meetup group in which the topic was Scrumban.

When my Techbeacon article was published, it immediately got plenty of hits and shares on social media, so apparently, the mixing of Scrum and Kanban is a topic that a lot of people are interested in right now!

Before reading “The Scrumban [R]Evolution: Getting the Most Out of Agile, Scrum, and Lean Kanban” by Ajay Reddy, my experience of mixing Scrum and Kanban was one in which we basically used Scrum, but without the time-boxed iterations.

The team still held the “ceremonies” recommended in Scrum: the standup meeting, planning meetings, demos and retrospectives. We even calculated velocity and used story pointing for estimates. We had a product backlog, but not a sprint backlog, so basically, the main thing we didn’t do that is mandated in Scrum is that the team did not have a set of stories that they were time-bound to have completed by the end of an iteration.

Though we didn’t have an “end-of-sprint review,” again, we did have demos and retrospectives on a monthly cadence. Planning sessions were at least weekly, with often a second scheduled in the week if needed.

My impression was that we were using “Scrumban,” though I hadn’t been aware of the formal definition of Scrumban, or even if there was such a definition. When I looked up Scrumban in Wikipedia in order to prepare for the article I was writing, I found that the opening paragraph states:

Scrumban is an Agile management methodology describing hybrids of Scrum and Kanban and was originally designed as a way to transition from Scrum to Kanban. Today, Scrumban is a management framework that emerges when teams employ Scrum as their chosen way of working and use the Kanban Method as a lens through which to view, understand and continuously improve how they work.

The definition and much of the rest of the Wikipedia article uses material from Reddy’s book, though does mention Corey Ladas, the person who coined the term, Scrumban:

When Corey Ladas introduced the world to Scrumban in his seminal book, Scrumban: Essays on Kanban Systems for Lean Software Development (Modus Cooperandi Press, 2009), he boldly defined it as a transition method for moving software development teams from Scrum to a “more evolved” software development framework.

However, the paragraph goes on to state that Scrumban has “evolved” to the methodology described in “The Scrumban [R]Evolution:”

In actual practice, however, Scrumban has itself evolved to become a family of principles and practices that create complementary capabilities unique from both Scrum and the Kanban Method. These capabilities have led to three distinct manifestations.

Wikipedia continues on with a brief overview of the manifestations as well as processes described in Reddy’s book.

Overall, I believe Reddy provides a model that would be useful in large-scale environments, though much like the SAFe methodology (which also uses both Scrum and Kanban, by the way), some agile purists may find it too prescriptive.

I’m not sure I’d agree with the statement in Wikipedia that this is the actual practice that is used when people use the term “Scrumban,” or that Reddy’s model is the definitive Scrumban methodology. In fact, even Reddy writes early in his book:

Although Scrumban has evolved as a framework over the years, it has no definitive guide or definition. In fact, as highlighted early in this book, several “authoritative” sources disagree about what Scrumban actually represents.

However, I’m not sure if there needs to be agreement on the actual term. What’s more important, in my opinion, is understanding the lean and agile concepts and principles and applying them in the context of your organization.

Before deciding whether you want to use Scrum, Kanban, Reddy’s version of Scrumban, SAFe, or your own custom hybrid methodology, first become educated on the pros and cons of the different methodologies.

Start with what you believe would be a good fit for your organization, and then regularly reflect, adapt and improve.



 

Yvette Francino has more than 30 years in the software development industry, and is an independent consultant, experienced agile leader, coach, author and trainer in various methodologies including SAFe, Scrum, Kanban and large-scale custom methodologies.

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