Kanban vs. Scrum vs. Agile Methodologies

By: Rob Thomson - Guest Contributor on January 31, 2023
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Navigating the world of project management methodologies can seem daunting, especially for growing small to midsize businesses. Project managers face many challenges daily—and without the right tools, their tasks can quickly become overwhelming. Different approaches, such as Kanban, Scrum, and Agile, can all be helpful when specialized roles collaborate on multiple projects. Without an effective methodology, it can become easy to get lost in project details and lose track of key performance indicators (KPIs). Achieving the desired results of any given project requires a clear plan for success that includes well-defined roles and objectives. 

By understanding the differences between the Kanban, Scrum, and Agile methodologies, project managers will be better equipped to evaluate which one is best suited for their specific goals and needs. Everything from managing your sales funnel to getting novel marketing campaigns off the ground can benefit from having a reliable, repeatable framework. Taking time to acquire this knowledge helps ensure success, so read on to get educated about these powerful tools.

What is the Kanban methodology? 

Kanban is a work methodology developed by Toyota in Japan in the 1940s [1], used to improve its production efficiency. The core principle of Kanban is visualizing your work, limiting the number of tasks you take on, and completing them one at a time. It's one of the most popular Agile methodologies for managing projects today, because it's simple to implement and easy to scale. 

Kanban started as a way to help with production line optimization, but has since been adapted for use in software development and project management. It works by breaking down complex tasks into small chunks that can be quickly completed and tracked visually through visualization tools like Trello or Asana. These tools also enable teams to collaborate more effectively on tasks, making Kanban a great choice for small businesses with limited resources. 

For small businesses, Kanban can be a game-changer. Not only does it emphasize completing tasks instead of just starting them—maximizing the resources you have available—but its regular retrospectives ensure that everyone is always on track and able to identify any gaps. 

Kanban boards track tasks and show their progress through each workflow stage. Each lesson is recorded on a Kanban card, which moves from column to column on the board as it moves through the team’s process.



Promotes continuous improvement and helps teams quickly identify potential bottlenecks in their workflow.

Enables teams to easily visualize workflows, making it easier for team members to stay on the same page.

Keeps tasks organized and prevents overloading of individual contributors.

Establishes clear limits on work in progress, allowing teams to focus on completing tasks efficiently.

Requires team members to be disciplined and adhere to the process guidelines.

Not ideal for complex projects or those with lengthy timelines.

Difficult to implement if there is no clear structure in place.

Does not provide timelines involved in getting different tasks done.

When to use Kanban 

Leveraging the Kanban methodology can provide an operations edge if you're looking to maximize efficiency while dealing with the varied or unpredictable work expected with growing teams. By having flexible commitments and preventing overburdening, teams that can utilize Kanban software manage shifts in priority rapidly, track the progress of multiple projects simultaneously, and redistribute workload when necessary. This makes it ideal for fast-moving professional contexts such as startups, SMBs, and financial services, where staying ahead of competition is key.

What is the Scrum methodology?

The Scrum methodology is an Agile framework that involves breaking down larger projects into smaller, more manageable tasks that can be completed in short, two-week sprints. Scrum tools enable teams to collaborate closely throughout the development process and quickly adapt to changes in scope or workflow without affecting the timeline or budget of the project.

Through regular team meetings called “scrums,” each member is held accountable for their contributions, as well as those of their fellow team members. This helps ensure that everyone understands exactly what needs to be done at every stage of the project. During scrum meetings, team members also review their progress until that point, so they can adjust course if needed and optimize their workflow accordingly.

By holding regular "scrums" and using visual tools to track progress, SMBs can optimize their workflow while still keeping stakeholders and customers informed of their progress. In this way, they can unlock creative potential while staying mindful of limited resources.



Offers a continuous, repeatable cycle for teams to quickly complete short-term projects.

Establishes clear checkpoints and expectations for tasks

Encourages team collaboration with daily check-ins.

Requires teams to be disciplined in following the process guidelines.

Not ideal for long projects or those with variable requirements.

Difficult to implement without a clear structure in place.

When to use Scrum

With its open-ended approach, Scrum methodology is a great way to tackle team projects when you need controlled delivery and regular feedback from testing the solutions. It's well-suited to projects that require small teams of knowledgeable partners looking to explore different solutions in iterative cycles. By using the expandable structure of a sprint and expected outcome, you can clearly manage expectations with stakeholders and customers as you work toward measurable results. Scrum software can help automate tasks and make it easier to track progress, allowing teams to better visualize their workflow and allocate resources efficiently during each sprint. 

What is Agile methodology?

For young companies seeking to maximize their efficiency, the Agile methodology offers flexibility and encourages rapid progress. It's a great way to manage team projects. It all began with 2001's Agile Manifesto [2]—a comprehensive set of core values and 12 guiding principles that enable teams to maintain focus on delivering value at speed.

Agile software development has revolutionized the way people manage projects [3]. It introduced an entirely new approach that elevates the user experience and encourages rapid progress. This innovative methodology offers tremendous potential for small and midsize businesses to improve productivity and user integration.

When to use Agile 

If you're looking to develop a project quickly and effectively, Agile methodology is the perfect place to start. With its focus on collaboration, experimentation, and flexibility in response to changing customer needs or feedback, this approach allows teams to stay agile during fast-paced product launches. It doesn't come with prescriptive guidelines like many frameworks do. In fact, it suggests not to choose between Kanban, Scrum, and Agile methodologies—but to use a combination of these three approaches.

Bolster your methodology with software

With myriad project and team management tools available, the choice between these three methodologies can be overwhelming. It's important to ensure that your desired outcomes are met in these processes through exploration. If quick results suit you best, consider Scrum. For teams that want to focus on refining existing production workflows, Kanban is the best option. If uncertainty persists, take some time to study how principles outlined by The Agile Manifesto [2] fit into existing workflows.

Whatever tool is selected, always ensure that there is an ingrained platform with predetermined standards used by all members of your team to set your team and business up for continued success.