What is Scrumban and do You Need it?

As businesses strive to get the most out of their teams, many have turned to agile methodologies like Scrum and Kanban. But what if there was a way to combine the best elements of these two systems?

Scrumban offers a hybrid approach that promises the flexibility of Kanban with the structure of Scrum. But is Scrumban right for your team or organization? In this article, we delve into what Scrumban is, its benefits, and how to determine if it’s the solution you’ve been searching for.

What is Scrumban?

Scrumban, a hybrid of Scrum and Kanban, was born out of the need for a more flexible and streamlined project management methodology. Originally designed as a transition tool from Scrum to Kanban, it was developed by Corey Ladas, a Lean-Kanban practitioner. The framework soon gained popularity due to its adaptive nature, combining the structured planning of Scrum with the continuous flow of work in Kanban.

The key difference between Scrumban and other Agile methodologies is that it is not time-limited. Unlike Scrum, which operates in sprints, Scrumban focuses on continuous work prioritizing the most important projects. This feature makes it particularly effective in environments with rapidly changing priorities or where work cannot be easily broken down into sprints.

Scrumban’s Unique Features

Hybrid Approach

Scrumban combines the flexibility of Kanban with the structure of Scrum, making it a unique hybrid approach to project management.

Continuous Work Flow

Unlike Scrum, which works in sprints, Scrumban emphasizes a continuous flow of work, making it suitable for projects where work cannot be easily broken down into time-boxed increments.

Prioritization of Work

In Scrumban, work items are continually prioritized based on their importance. This ensures that the most critical tasks are always attended to first.

Pull System

Scrumban uses a pull system, which means team members pull new work from the backlog when they have capacity, rather than having work pushed onto them.

When Should You Consider Scrumban?

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If you’re working on a project where requirements aren’t clearly defined at the start, Scrumban provides the flexibility needed for changes as more information becomes available. It’s also ideal for maintenance projects or support roles, where issues can arise continuously and need to be managed systematically.

However, Scrumban is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Its lack of time constraints can lead to less predictability in delivery times compared to Scrum, and it may not provide the same level of structure that some teams may need. Therefore, it may not be the best fit for teams that thrive on routine or have projects with fixed deadlines.

5 Steps to Make Scrumban Work For Your Team

Step #1: Define your workflow

A well-defined workflow outlines the path from task inception to completion, ensuring every team member understands their role and the sequence of operations. This transparency allows for the identification of any bottlenecks or inefficiencies, enabling teams to address them promptly and improve overall productivity.

What’s more, a clear workflow fosters consistency and predictability, which are essential for efficient project management. It also helps in assigning responsibility for each stage of the process, enhancing accountability within the team.

Step #2: Prioritize tasks

In a Scrumban environment, work items are constantly incoming, so it’s essential to determine which tasks are of higher value or urgency. This process helps manage the flow of work more effectively, preventing bottlenecks and ensuring timely delivery.

Prioritizing also aids in decision-making when resources are limited, directing focus and energy towards tasks that contribute most to the project’s goals.

Step #3: Set WIP limits

Setting Work-In-Progress (WIP) limits is a fundamental aspect of making ScrumBan successful for your team. It’s about managing the amount of work that is in the ‘doing’ stage at any given time. Why is this important?

  • WIP limits help prevent overloading your team. Too many tasks at once can lead to context switching and reduced productivity. By capping the number of active tasks, team members can focus better, producing higher quality work.
  • It helps identify bottlenecks. If tasks pile up in one stage, it’s a clear sign there’s a problem that needs addressing. This could relate to resource allocation, skill gaps, or process inefficiencies.
  • Setting WIP limits encourages continuous flow. The goal of ScrumBan is to have tasks move smoothly from ‘to-do’ to ‘done’. WIP limits ensure that there’s always room for tasks to advance, promoting a more efficient, streamlined workflow.

Step #4: Conduct frequent retrospectives

Conducting frequent retrospectives is a key driver in making Scrumban effective for your team. It’s a moment of pause, allowing the team to reflect on the work done and identify areas of improvement.

Every retrospective is an opportunity for learning and growth, promoting a culture of continuous enhancement. Open communication is fostered during these sessions, as team members share their experiences, challenges, and ideas. This dialogue encourages a sense of unity and trust among team members.

The practice also serves as a platform to spot process inefficiencies or skill gaps, leading to timely remedial actions.

Step #5: Use project management software

Using project management software facilitates seamless communication and collaboration among remote teams. Real-time updates on task status ensure everyone is on the same page, reducing misunderstandings or delays. They provide valuable data for retrospectives, offering insights into performance trends and areas for improvement.

They are not just facilitators, they are catalysts for productivity, collaboration, and continuous improvement within a Scrumban team.

Pros and cons of Scrumban

Scrumban Pros

  • Flexibility: Scrumban combines the structure of Scrum with the adaptability of Kanban, making it ideal for projects with changing priorities.
  • Continuous Improvement: Regular retrospectives and review sessions ensure constant evaluation and improvement of processes.
  • Increased Efficiency: By visualizing work in progress, teams can identify bottlenecks and improve workflow efficiency.
  • Reduced Waste: The pull-based system helps to limit work-in-progress, reducing waste and focusing on completing tasks.
  • Improved Forecasting: With the help of lead and cycle time metrics, it’s easier to predict when tasks will be done.

Scrumban Cons

  • Requires Discipline: The flexibility of Scrumban requires a high level of discipline from team members to avoid chaos.
  • Not Ideal for Large Teams: Scrumban can become complex and difficult to manage with larger teams.
  • Lack of Defined Roles: Unlike Scrum, Scrumban doesn’t have defined roles, which may lead to confusion and lack of accountability.
  • Less Structure: Some teams may prefer the more structured approach of Scrum or Kanban, finding Scrumban too loose.
  • Risk of Overwhelm: Without careful management, the focus on continuous delivery could lead to burnout.


Scrumban offers a powerful and flexible approach for managing complex projects. Its unique blend of Scrum and Kanban principles allows teams to adapt quickly to changes while maintaining a steady flow of work. However, like any framework, its effectiveness hinges on the team’s understanding of its principles and their ability to adapt them to their specific context.

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