Moving to Kanban, Did Scrum Fail?

Untitled Several months ago our software team decided to dive into the Scrum process.  What we were doing before that simply wasn't working.  The project had unstable delivery dates and we knew something needed to change.

Fast forward about four months and we're going to take a shot at using Kanban and leave Scrum behind.  Quite surprising since I blogged that Scrum was a pretty good development methodology.  Why change if Scrum is so great?  Did Scrum fail?  Is Kanban that much better?  Is Kanban Better than scrum? Read on fellow Kaizenista.

Why Change To Kanban?

The developers that I work with are professionals at their core.  For us we want to deliver code, we want to make an impact. We want a consistent process that brings us maximal results.  We want a process that aides our development and doesn't impede it.

I work for the world's largest motorcycle parts and accessories dealer.  The code we right is in high demand, we want to get it out to the world as soon as possible.  Scrum imposes sprints and releases (several sprints) on the team.  We found that we don't work that way.  If a feature is "done, done, done" we promote it to production we don't wait for an arbitrary end of sprint.  This seems to fit better with Kanban.

Secondly we want to reduce lead times, see features get implemented quicker.  While we saw a huge improvement with the adoption of scrum, the idea of a pull system versus a sprint backlog would have meant shorter lead time in several cases in the recent past.

There are other reasons, but they all point to our desire to produce more.  Upper management has been quite pleased with scrum.  They see consistent work being accomplished and goals being met and the team quite happy. I had a discussion with my boss today about Kanban and was initially hesitant given only four months of using scrum.  He was thrilled with the idea of us working in ways to improve the process.

Did Scrum Fail?

I was asked my thoughts on a similar question on the drive home tonight by Chris Missal.  I absolutely don't think Scrum failed.  Scrum was a huge improvement and has shown us that it is okay to experiment and tweak with processes.  Had we adopted Kanban several months ago rather than first going through Scrum I believe our Kanban process would not have gone over well.  Quite simply we wouldn't have done it right.  Now, after having worked in Scrum, we're transitioning to Kanban to address very specific points where we see waste.

Is Kanban Better than Scrum?

Nope, Scrum is a perfectly fine solution and I don't have a negative thing to say about it. For us Kanban seems to work more the way we work. 

It's like putting on a tennis shoes to go golfing in then later trading in the tennis shoes for a pair of golf spikes.  The spikes are better than tennis shoes but the tennis shoes are better than nothing (barefoot).

It's a better fit.  For the way our process flows and how we work, Scrum was like golfing in tennis shoes, it was an improvement but there are better optimizations to be made.  If Scrum is working for you, great. For us we wanted to try Kanban.

How are you Going to Start?

First, we don't know much about Kanban. No one on our team carries certification like I do with Scrum.  Therefore we're going to leverage you, the community, and our passion to learn and improve.  We're going to use post's from great authors and teachers like Derick Bailey who posted yesterday (very well timed Derick) about "How To Get Started With Kanban In Software Development".  We're going to become student of Kanban and more importantly process improvement. Ultimately I don't want the fear of something new to stop of from trying something that could help us. You have to experiment, tweak, and never be satisfied where you sit, you can always improve something.

I'll keep you all posted as we go forward.  My hope is that the improvement we saw with Scrum will be magnified and we'll see similar improvements with Kanban.

Will keep you posted.


Posted 08-06-2009 10:25 PM by Tim Barcz
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Comments

Matt Youngblut wrote re: Moving to Kanban, Did Scrum Fail?
on 08-07-2009 1:34 AM

Since Scrum didn't fail, have you considered Scrum-ban?  That might give you the best of both worlds.

leansoftwareengineering.com/.../scrum-ban

Stephane wrote re: Moving to Kanban, Did Scrum Fail?
on 08-07-2009 3:23 AM

"we're transitioning to Kanban to address very specific points where we see waste."

What are those points? Could you explain them, in a short list, or in another article? I'm curious, I'm a young, enthousiastic developer who wants to help his company and dev team adopt SCRUM.

Stéphane

Cecildt wrote re: Moving to Kanban, Did Scrum Fail?
on 08-07-2009 3:35 AM

Just a tip! Start with just one project using kanban to work out the kinks before moving all project over to kanban!

Best of luck!

Tim Barcz wrote re: Moving to Kanban, Did Scrum Fail?
on 08-07-2009 11:37 AM

@Matt

I am aware of Scrum-ban, but will have to check it out further.  The concern I have with "Scrum-ban" is that it's a hybrid and the hybrid "Scrummerfall" (Scrum + Waterfall) was generally looked at negatively.  In the same way is a hybrid approach in the long run a negative?

Tim Barcz wrote re: Moving to Kanban, Did Scrum Fail?
on 08-07-2009 11:41 AM

@Stephane,

For us we were finding that we were having work stack up in areas, testing, code review, or "ready to push".  At times these areas were overwhelmed a bit which impacted quality.  For example, we're comfortable with small frequent pushes to the website versus few large pushes.  The waste in this case is for a large push all of the testing/verification to make sure everything is working (think user acceptance).

For us, when something is done, we want to push it live.  That is counter Scrum where at the end of a release is when a cut of software is made.  Short of that in scrum the sprint has "potentially shippable" which means you *could* ship, but most often in my experience you don't.  We are pushing mid-sprint, it matches our business needs better.

Scrum is great, don't take our move from Scrum as a negative on Scrum.  I explain it as an evolution.  We wouldn't see the value in Kanban had we not gone through Scrum first.

Scott Dunn wrote re: Moving to Kanban, Did Scrum Fail?
on 08-10-2009 6:35 PM

I've been transitioning in the same way because I see inherent limits in Scrum for multiple teams.  Little more detail and good metaphor comparing Scrum and Kanban here scottdunn.blogspot.com/.../kanban-and-scrum-black-box-and-white.html

new ThoughtStream("Derick Bailey"); wrote A Conversation On Adopting Kanban
on 08-19-2009 11:40 PM

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of doing a conference call with Tim Barcz , Chris Missal and the

Tim Barcz wrote Moving to Kanban : A Mentoring Session
on 08-19-2009 11:49 PM

After my recent post about our software team moving to Kanban I got an email from Derick Bailey asking

Matt Youngblut wrote re: Moving to Kanban, Did Scrum Fail?
on 08-24-2009 12:33 PM

I finally finished the Derick Bailey vodcast/podcast.  Does that mean that you've gone with Scrum-ban?  Sounds like that is what he recommended.

Tim Barcz wrote re: Moving to Kanban, Did Scrum Fail?
on 08-24-2009 1:34 PM

@Matt,

After talking internally we're probably not going to do Scrum-ban because of the time boxing (which is one of the main areas we want to get away from).

We currently do branch-per-feature and are quickly (and naturally) progressing towards a push-per-feature scenario.

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