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Agile Frameworks: Scrum vs Kanban vs Lean vs XP

Joydip Kanjilal
Published: July 18, 2022

Project Management Methodologies

The demands of businesses worldwide have been constantly changing. To cope with this, organizations have let go of the traditional approaches to managing work and software development, Organizations are looking for ways to become more Agile in their software development process so that they can become more competitive in their respective industries.

There are many software development methodologies out there that you can use to help your team become more Agile and deliver better quality products; one of the most popular frameworks is Scrum. However, there are other methods you could also consider including Kanban, Lean, and Extreme Programming (XP).

In this programming tutorial, we will examine these four different methodologies and discuss which of these is a good fit for your organization.

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What is Agile?

The traditional approach to software development follows a lengthy plan with specifications and design, and there is a high amount of uncertainty since you will get a working piece of software only late in the software development lifecycle. This often results in projects running over budget and over time. With the introduction of the Agile approach, the burden of completing the project on time and within budget was shared collectively among team members.

Agile is a concept that was built with the goal of improving the process of software development. Inspired by the word “Agile,” which means quick and flexible, the Agile approach to software development emphasizes rapid and flexible responses to changes in requirements, client demands, and technical environments.

Let’s now dive in and understand some of the popular Agile frameworks that are in use today. If you want a more in-depth look at what Agile means, check out these tutorials:

What is Scrum?

Scrum is an Agile framework that uses a time-boxed cycle of planning, development, testing, and review to create high-quality products in short cycles to progress with every sprint. Scrum focuses on cross-functional, self-organizing teams within their product owner’s vision. The team decides how best to work together to complete the work within each sprint by using their combined knowledge and skillsets to achieve meaningful results through experimentation quickly.

Scrum is based on the value of continuous improvement. There are several incremental steps to creating a project, and you work in a team-based environment. The key difference between Scrum and other Agile frameworks is that Scrum uses a sprint-based approach to project management. This means that each iteration (or sprint) of the project has a specific goal or deliverable that must be met. The benefits of using Scrum include its flexibility, its focus on continuous improvement, and its ability to help teams work together more effectively.

You can learn more about Scrum by reading the following tutorials:

What is Kanban?

Kanban is a method for managing workflow, primarily in software development. With Kanban, you keep track of your work by moving it from one stage to the next with sticky notes on a board called a Kanban board.

In Kanban, there are no sprints or iterations like in Scrum. Instead, you define your cadence based on how often you want to release new features or products; the cycle may vary from daily to quarterly deliverables depending on what makes sense for your team’s needs and objectives.

So, instead of creating deadlines and pushing them out like Scrum does, Kanban developers simply work on whatever tasks are available. As a result, Kanban is more suited to workflow-based projects.

In addition to defining cadences, Kanban lets you manage inventory levels by limiting how many backlog items you can have at any given time (also known as WIP limits). This helps prevent overwork while allowing teams flexibility in prioritizing what they need next based on changing project demands and market conditions.

The Kanban method emphasizes visualizing work, limiting work in progress, continuous delivery, collaboration, and maximizing efficiency and waste removal. The work to be accomplished is broken down into small, discrete pieces and written on cards attached to a board.

As work progresses through various phases (e.g., ready, in progress, ready for review, etc.), the cards are moved accordingly. The Work in Progress rule is helpful for teams with limited resources or when each item needs feedback from each member. To ensure that the process is as efficient and predictable as possible, the average time it takes to finish a task (also known as the “cycle time”) is recorded and optimized.

The key difference between Kanban and other agile frameworks is that it uses a pull-based approach to project management. This means that work is pulled into the sprint only when it’s needed, which helps to avoid waste and keep projects on track.

The benefits of using Kanban include its focus on continuous improvement, its ability to help teams work together more effectively, and its flexibility (it can be adapted to fit any size or type of project).

You can learn more about Kanban in our guide: Overview of Kanban for Project Managers and Developers.

What is Lean Development?

Lean is a lightweight framework that focuses on continuous improvement and provides an easy way for teams to improve their development processes. The focus of Lean Development is on continuing to make changes and improvements. Lean is based on the Toyota Production System, which has been used by Toyota since the 1950s to promote continuous improvement in their manufacturing processes. Lean is based on these principles:

  • Efficient flow of value
  • Harmonious work environment/li>
  • Respect for people and teamwork/li>
  • Continuous improvement/li>

One of the benefits of Lean is that it helps teams to identify and eliminate waste quickly and efficiently. It focuses on creating value for the customer and delivering high-quality products.

What is XP (eXtreme Programming)?

Extreme Programming (XP) is a software development methodology that was introduced in the book Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change by Kent Beck and Martin Fowler. The goal of XP is to improve the quality of software projects, primarily by minimizing time spent on them, while maintaining short intervals between releases.

Extreme Programming was designed to be a lightweight methodology. It does not prescribe any specific tools or processes for implementing its practices but rather puts an emphasis on simplicity, writing automated tests to guide code design, and frequent releases (as often as once per week).

XP promotes continuous refactoring—the practice of rewriting code without changing its external behavior so that it can remain easy to read and understand—and encourages pair programming: two developers working together at one computer keyboard so that they may review each other’s work more easily.

These practices enable teams using XP to get feedback about their code sooner than most other methodologies allow for at regular intervals throughout development rather than just testing after each major task has been completed.

Read: Best Tools for Remote Developers

Key Points to Ponder

In addition to limiting work-in-progress, Kanban supports teams in managing a constantly changing backlog.

Scrum fosters regular communication and planning to help people, teams, and organizations become more productive and generate value.

A lean agile approach identifies and eliminates waste, and refining processes to increase efficiency and lower costs without compromising quality.

The XP method emphasizes the importance of clean and reliable code and software in engineering.

Final Thoughts on Agile Frameworks

Although these agile frameworks have different origins and focus on various aspects of the development process, they all adhere to the principles mentioned in the Agile Manifesto and help teams quickly deliver high-quality software. The choice of an Agile framework depends on the maturity of your organization and the way you want to approach product development. For example, if you’re a start-up, Kanban may be more suitable. However, if the team is experienced in agile techniques, Scrum or XP may be a better choice.

Read more project management and software development tutorials.