Scrumban Blog Feature

Scrumban Methodology Crash Course: Key Concepts, Benefits, and Implementation Tips

What do the words brunch, motel, webinar, and Scrumban have in common? Well, they’re all portmanteaus—combinations of two separate words with a unique new meaning! 🦄

Scrumban blends two powerful frameworks within agile project managementScrum and Kanban—to create a hybrid management method designed to help you boost project flexibility, streamline workflows, and support continuous improvement.

But what exactly does this relatively new methodology offer to project managers, and when should you use it? In this article, you’ll learn all you need to know about the Scrumban methodology and its best practices. Plus, we’ll introduce you to a handy visual management software to help you implement Scrumban principles effortlessly. 

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What Is Scrumban?

Scrumban is a project management framework that combines the best principles and tools of Scrum and Kanban. It retains Kanban’s visual workflow management and integrates it with Scrum’s stable sprint structure to create a hybrid methodology that’s flexible and suitable for agile teams of all sizes. 

Scrumban was initially created to help teams transition from Scrum to Kanban and vice versa. However, it eventually became a separate methodology, perfect for teams looking to hit the sweet spot between Scrum’s time-boxed structure and Kanban’s flexibility and continuous improvement aspects.

But how does Scrumban combine these two agile methodologies? To answer this question, let’s first dive deeper into Scrum and Kanban and unpack their flagship features. 📦

The Scrum methodology

Scrum is one of the most popular agile methodologies for lean software development that divides projects into smaller cycles called sprints. Each sprint lasts one to four weeks, allowing you to work on separate project sections individually.  

After completing a sprint, you present it to your customers for feedback and then incorporate their requests before moving on to the next sprint. This way, Scrum teams can quickly adapt to changes and shift priorities if necessary. 

Scrum teams are typically small and self-organized, and they consist of: 

  1. A Scrum Master (a team leader)
  2. A product owner
  3. The product development team

If you think your team will thrive on Scrum, streamline your management efforts with the ClickUp Agile Scrum Management Template—a pre-designed framework with all the essential Scrum elements!

ClickUp Agile Scrum Management Template
Use the ClickUp Agile Scrum Management Template to simulate the Scrum environment without starting from scratch

Scrum benefits

The Scrum methodology owes its popularity among project managers to its numerous benefits, including:

  • More adaptability: When projects are divided into smaller cycles, it’s easier to make changes that align with your stakeholders’ preferences. If there are any issues, you only have to redo one cycle instead of the whole project
  • Improved customer satisfaction: Since your customers are actively involved in the development process, you can incorporate their feedback at all levels for continuous improvement and create a product that meets their needs perfectly
  • Easier collaboration: Because Scrum teams are small and cross-functional, they can communicate more effectively and get things done faster
  • Increased motivation: Scrum teams work on smaller, short-term goals, leading to a stronger sense of accomplishment at the end of each sprint

Scrum limitations

While the Scrum project management methodology has many advantages, it also has a few drawbacks

  • It requires experience: For a Scrum ceremony to be successful, there needs to be an experienced project manager or an agile coach. Inexperienced project team members may slow things down, leading to unsuccessful sprints
  • It’s built mainly for small teams: A Scrum team ideally consists of three to nine members, so if you have a larger team, you’d have to break it up into multiple individual teams 
  • It has a steep learning curve: Scrum is a relatively complex framework where team members must be familiar with unique terms like cycle time, lead time, work item, user story, and story point

The Kanban methodology 

Kanban is a mix of Japanese words for sign and board. It’s another popular agile framework, but unlike Scrum, Kanban encourages continuous improvement, i.e., continuously planning, reviewing, and measuring the outcomes of each task. 

In this methodology, tasks are represented by cards and laid out on a Kanban board, allowing you to visualize the various progress stages they’re in. A Kanban board typically has three primary columns:

  1. To-Do: The tasks you haven’t started working on yet
  2. Work In Progress (WIP): The tasks that are underway 
  3. Done: The tasks you’ve completed

To change a task’s status, you simply move its card to the corresponding column on the board to ensure the entire team is updated on its progress. 

Kanban teams cap the number of items they juggle simultaneously by setting work-in-progress (WIP) limits. WIP limits reduce clutter and promote focus. 🧐

Want to try out Kanban boards without starting from square one? Check out the ClickUp Simple Kanban Board Template that lets you fully customize and visualize your tasks in one neat view.

ClickUp Simple Kanban Board Template
ClickUp Simple Kanban Board Template provides all the basics to get started using Kanban boards ASAP

Kanban benefits

The key benefits of implementing the Kanban project management methodology include:

  • Better focus: Kanban teams must focus on one task at a time, which leads to process improvement and overall higher quality of work
  • Increased flexibility: It allows the project manager to shuffle tasks without disrupting the team’s workflow, as the team is only focused on the current task
  • Ease of use: Kanban makes it easy to visualize your workflow to expose process weaknesses and doesn’t require extensive prior experience. Each team member can quickly see what’s going on and who is working on what
  • Bottleneck reduction: It helps reduce backlogs since its work-in-progress limits restrict the number of tasks going on simultaneously

Kanban limitations

Every system has its flaws, and Kanban is no exception. Here are a few issues with the Kanban method:

  • Risk of poor prioritization: Since you’re simply moving assignments from one column to another on the Kanban board, you may forget to prioritize tasks
  • Potential miscommunication: Kanban focuses more on the workflow than the team dynamics, so there could be communication issues due to poor monitoring
  • Lack of timeframes: Unlike Scrum, Kanban doesn’t include any timeframes, which can make it hard to keep up with deadlines
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Understanding the Scrumban Framework

Scrum and Kanban are remarkable project management methodologies widely embraced by software development teams of all sizes. Still, they have their share of drawbacks, forcing you to compromise when choosing one over the other. Enter Scrumban, a hybrid approach merging the best of both worlds! 🌍 

Let’s explore what exactly Scrumban borrows from each of these two agile frameworks and how it differs from both. 

The Scrum part of Scrumban

Scrumban takes the following three key ingredients from the Scrum framework:

  1. Sprints: Like the Scrum framework, Scrumban breaks very complex projects into smaller, fixed-length development cycles. The only difference is that they’re called iterations instead of sprints and typically last two weeks
  2. Planning meetings: Similar to Scrum, each Scrumban project has a planning meeting where teams create a backlog—a list of items that need to be tackled across the whole project
  3. Retrospectives: At the end of each cycle, the team meets to analyze their performance and uses that information to improve iteration planning

However, Scrumban doesn’t adopt a lot of Scrum’s trademark elements like daily stand-up meetings, continuous customer feedback, and the specific team structure.

The Kanban part of Scrumban

Kanban plays a major role in the Scrumban system, mainly by lending its board approach that helps teams see their workflows in action. However, instead of visualizing tasks on a Kanban board, they do so on a Scrumban board. 

The boards look very much alike, with columns representing statuses and cards representing project tasks. As your tasks progress, you can easily move their corresponding cards into the appropriate columns to show if they’re In Progress or Done. ✅

Scrumban takes a cue from the Kanban’s playbook by embracing the pull system. Teams use so-called pull signals to indicate that new tasks are ready to be worked on. A pull signal is triggered within the pull system once the number of cards in a column falls below a specified limit. On the other hand, when the work-in-progress limits are reached, no other task in the pull system can be moved forward until the ongoing task is completed.

How does Scrumban differ from Kanban and Scrum?

While Scrumban is inevitably similar to both Kanban and Scrum, it’s a unique methodology with distinctive features. For example, Scrumban teams usually include less than twelve members, there are no rigid team roles, and aside from the initial planning meeting, daily meetings are optional.

Here’s a quick overview of the differences between Scrumban, Scrum, and Kanban:

 ScrumbanScrum Kanban
Team SizeNo specific team size, but it’s recommended that teams stay below 12 membersScrum teams are small, and they usually consist of three to nine membersUnlike other agile teams, there’s no limit to a Kanban team’s size
RolesWhile there usually is a project manager, there are no rigid team rolesA Scrum team has three key roles:

Scrum Master
Product owner
Development team

There’s usually a project manager, but there are no rigid  team roles
Project MeetingsThere’s an initial planning meeting, similar to a sprint planning meeting. However, all other daily meetings are optionalInvolves five mandatory meetings:

Product backlog planning
Sprint planning Daily Scrum
Sprint review
Sprint retrospective

Daily stand-ups (short meetings) in front of the Kanban board
Work CyclesInvolves short work cycles called iterations that last up to two weeksInvolves short work cycles called sprints that last 2-4 weeksThe flow of work isn’t broken down into separate cycles

How does the Scrumban process work?

Scrumban combines Kanban’s workflow visualization and flexibility with Scrum’s sprints model. However, Scrumban is not as rigid as Scrum, which allows teams to customize their product development approach. 

Here’s how to develop a product using the Scrumban method:

  1. Make a list of items you’ll need to create a product
  2. Transform those items into tasks and place them in the To-Do column on the Scrumban board
  3. Limit the amount of work your team can take at any given time
  4. Determine which items on the board should be prioritized so your team can tackle them first
  5. Plan the iteration of each item—it must include a deadline and a list of tasks that need to be completed
  6. Move the tasks to In Progress once you start working on them or to the Done column when they’re finished
  7. After you finish all the tasks planned for one iteration, start working on the next one and repeat the process until the product is complete
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Benefits of the Scrumban Methodology

Here are the key benefits of using Scrumban that make it such a popular methodology in project management:

  • Ease of use: Unlike the Scrum method, Scrumban doesn’t include complicated processes, daily meetings, and terminology your team needs to master, making it easier to adopt
  • Increased flexibility: Since Scrumban divides projects into iterations or sprint cycles, you can make changes even in the middle of the process while progressing toward project completion at the same time
  • Continuous workflow: Allows teams to deliver features when they complete them, without waiting for a sprint to end
  • Increased motivation: Considering the team’s capabilities and setting work in progress, or WIP limits accordingly keeps your team motivated and reduces the risk of experiencing burnout
  • Quicker issue resolution: Having tasks displayed as cards on a Scrumban board increases clarity and boosts collaboration, helping teams find and resolve problems faster 🏃
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When to Use the Scrumban Methodology?

Scrumban shines brightest in projects where neither Scrum nor Kanban alone can do the trick. For example, Scrum may not work efficiently for some teams due to workflow problems, process weaknesses, or resource constraints. At the same time, Kanban can make it difficult for teams to set clear priorities. 

More specifically, implementing Scrumban is an excellent idea for software development projects with evolving requirements, frequent user story changes, or bugs. This is because the Scrumban process includes both time-boxed iterations and continuous development, allowing teams to work incrementally, even when bugs need fixing or requirements change.

Projects with multiple, simultaneous initiatives can also benefit from adopting Scrumban principles. Large companies often have multiple projects in progress at the same time, and they sometimes involve the same teams. Scrumban’s flexibility allows for concurrent initiatives and enables small teams to tackle multiple requirements.

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How to Implement Scrumban in 4 Easy Steps

While Scrumban may be easier to implement than Scrum or Kanban, you still need the right tools to do it effectively. Relying on a powerful Scrum and Kanban project management software can help you:

  1. Map out your Scrumban board
  2. Organize your tasks
  3. Track your progress

ClickUp is the ultimate project management solution that provides all the tools and features to implement Scrumban in your next project effortlessly

From user-friendly Kanban boards and easily trackable tasks to simple priority-setting features and collaboration tools, ClickUp has it all! Let’s take a closer look at how you can adopt Scrumban principles in four easy steps.

Step 1: Create a Scrumban board

Managing a Scrumban project without a board is like cooking without a pot—nearly impossible! 🍲

Luckily, you can use the ClickUp Board view as the perfect Scrumban board for your team. It allows you to visualize your tasks and projects just like you would with a regular Kanban board. Yet, it’s packed with additional features your team will love! 

ClickUp Board view
Oversee tasks and projects at a glance on a Kanban board and effortlessly drag-and-drop, sort, and filter tasks with ClickUp

ClickUp’s Kanban-style boards help you visualize your tasks by displaying them as interactive cards. Simply drag and drop a card to an appropriate column symbolizing statuses like To Do, Work In Progress, or Done.

These boards are fully customizable to suit any workflow, even if it requires multiple boards! Just open the Everything view for a snapshot of all your Kanban boards. 📸

Tired of updating tasks one by one? The Bulk Action Toolbar saves time by letting you change statuses, delete tasks, and add assignees without leaving the Board view. 

Step 2: Organize your tasks 

Most Scrumban boards have only three task status columns: To Do, Work in Progress, and Done. But what if you need a column in between, like In Review or Running? 🤔

The ClickUp Custom Task Statuses option lets you create as many statuses as you want and save them as reusable templates! This way, all your Scrumban projects can have multiple columns to make progress tracking easier and more accurate.

ClickUp Custom Task Statuses
Use a different status for your tasks at every project stage with ClickUp

Besides statuses, you can organize ClickUp Tasks by their due date, priority, tags, and task name, among other options. With these categorization features, you won’t have to sift through all the cards on your Scrumban board to find the one you were looking for!

Step 3: Set clear priorities.

ClickUp Task Priorities
Use ClickUp to set Task Priority with four urgency levels and communicate what needs attention first

Kanban is all about visualizing, while Scrum highlights the importance of prioritizing. What about Scrumban? As usual, it’s a perfect combination of both! 

ClickUp lets you set Priorities for every task so your Scrumban team always knows what to tackle first directly in the Board view. 🚩

ClickUp’s priority system is color-coded for simpler navigation:

  1. Red (Urgent): The most urgent tasks
  2. Yellow (High): Very important tasks
  3. Blue (Normal): Tasks that can wait
  4. Grey (Low): Low-priority tasks

Once you’ve set the priority levels, add Dependencies to ensure your team focuses on higher-priority tasks before diving into the lower-priority ones! 

ClickUp Task Dependencies
Add Dependencies directly within the task to ensure work is completed in the correct order with ClickUp

Step 4: Keep track of your work

Creating a list of tasks you’ll work on during your iterations and keeping track of them is a core part of the Scrumban methodology. To do this efficiently, use the ClickUp Task Checklists to break down your sprint backlog items or deliverables for each iteration. ✔️

ClickUp Task Checklist
Easily create and organize detailed Checklists with nested sub-tasks in ClickUp

As these are basically simple to-do lists, you can quickly check off each task as you progress. You can even use the Nesting feature to create sub-items in your checklist and organize them with a user-friendly drag-and-drop function. 

This is especially useful for Scrumban teams—you can make a separate checklist for every iteration and include sub-tasks that need to be done in each one. That way, it’ll be super easy to monitor how many tasks you have remaining in the current iteration. ⏳ 

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Become a Scrumban Pro with ClickUp

Besides Kanban boards, task priorities, and task checklists, ClickUp has an entire suite of features to support any agile team. From 15+ customizable views and versatile Dashboards to Automations and numerous options for managing your sprints, ClickUp can help you plan and manage every Scrumban project to perfection!

Ready to implement the Scrumban approach and reap all the benefits of Scrum and Kanban methodologies? Sign up for ClickUp and explore all the features to kickstart your Scrumban journey in style! ⚡

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