Balancing Quality And Speed: Kanban Vs. Scrum

What is Kanban?

Kanban is an agile framework that focuses on visualizing workflow, limiting work-in-progress, and managing flow. The goal of Kanban is to create a smooth, continuous flow of work to optimize efficiency, throughput, and responsiveness. Some key principles of Kanban include:

  • Visualize workflow on a kanban board to see bottlenecks
  • Limit work-in-progress to focus on finishing existing tasks
  • Manage flow by adjusting workflow policies to balance speed and quality

Kanban utilizes pull systems, work item types, classes of service, and other methods to incrementally improve process. There are no prescribed roles or ceremonies as work is pulled according to demand. Kanban promotes evolutionary change in organizations through transparency, inspection, and adaptation.

What is Scrum?

Scrum is an iterative, incremental agile framework designed to provide structure for teams developing complex products. Some defining aspects of Scrum include:

  • Fixed-length sprints, typically 2-4 weeks long
  • Daily 15 minute standup meetings for coordination
  • Sprint reviews to demonstrate working product increments
  • Defined Scrum roles including Product Owner and Scrum Master
  • Commitment to scope and sprint goals

Scrum focuses on getting working software out quickly and gathering feedback, even if it is not fully featured. It relies on empirical process control, self-organization, and responding to change. The timeboxed sprints provide urgency and regularity for delivery milestones.

Key Differences

While both are agile frameworks, Kanban and Scrum have some fundamental differences in their approach:

  • Incremental Delivery vs Fixed Sprints – Kanban promotes continuous delivery as opposed to Scrum’s fixed length sprints
  • Continuous Flow vs Timeboxed Iterations – Kanban optimizes for smooth flow of work while Scrum iterates in short sprints
  • Flexible Planning vs Committed Scope – Kanban adapts based on changing priorities while Scrum commits to sprint backlogs

When to Use Kanban

Some situations where Kanban is a good fit:

  • Frequently changing priorities where flexibility is necessary
  • Teams that must balance multiple projects with incoming tickets/requests
  • Products with frequent production releases, maintenance, or operations work
  • Reducing lead time and improving process is the main focus

When to Use Scrum

Some situations where Scrum is a preferable framework:

  • Building new products from scratch with a defined roadmap
  • Cross-functional teams who can allocate 100% to sprint work
  • Environments where creativity, problem solving, and collaboration are crucial
  • Stakeholders request higher planning visibility and sprint demos

Balancing Speed and Quality

To balance the speed of agile delivery with quality:

  • Implement WIP limits to focus teams and limit unsustainable multitasking
  • Automate testing frameworks so quality does not become a bottleneck
  • Prioritization over rigid planning allows value-focused progress

Quality does not need to be sacrificed for agility. Well-defined processes, test automation, and continuous delivery practices allow both.

Example Implementations

Some examples of Kanban and Scrum tools:

  • Kanban Boards – Trello, Jira, Asana
  • Sprint Tracking – Jira, VersionOne
  • Code Repositories – GitHub, GitLab

These tools allow teams to visualize workflow, track sprints, share code, gather feedback, and promote collaboration.

Here is sample Python code for a basic Kanban ticket tracking system:

import datetime

class Ticket:
    def __init__(self, title, status='To Do'):
        self.title = title
        self.status = status
        self.created_at =

class KanbanBoard:
    def __init__(self):
        self.columns = {'To Do':[], 'In Progress':[], 'Done':[]}
    def add_ticket(self, ticket):

    def move_ticket(self, ticket, new_status):
        ticket.status = new_status

board = KanbanBoard()
ticket1 = Ticket('New ticket')
board.move_ticket(ticket1, 'In Progress')


Adapting and Scaling

To scale agile frameworks:

  • Tailor the process to team size, product, and business context
  • Use metrics to guide evolutionary, incremental improvements
  • Focus on outcomes over prescriptive methods

For example, large products can use Scrum-of-Scrums to connect multiple teams. Mature teams may only need daily standups or informal coordination over proscriptive ceremonies. The process should enable, not constrain, delivery.


  • There is no universally superior agile framework
  • Balance flexibility of Kanban and structure of Scrum for context
  • Continuously improve process through inspection and adaptation
  • Focus on sustainable pace and quality to avoid technical debt accumulation

The right agile approach depends on the team, product, stage of development, and business priorities. By iterating based on feedback, observing outcomes, and balancing quality and speed, teams can deliver value responsively and sustainably.

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