Should You Move from Scrum to Kanban?

Aki Namioka, from Marchex, helped move her team from Scrum to Kanban when they were suddenly met with new challenges caused by a new dev environment, a new technology to learn, and a rapidly increasing backlog.

Is your team facing challenges that might be solved by moving to Kanban?


Why They Changed


  • Backlog was in flux.
  • BizDev was going out, talking to the clients, and bringing back lots of new input. This created a fluctuating backlog.
  • When something in production broke, they also had to go fix it.


  • Due to working with a new technology and learning a new framework, the team could not accurately estimate points anymore.
  • This made it difficult to accurately portray the work being done (and work to be done).
  • Because it was difficult to see progress, it was also difficult to communicate progress to the Program Manager, and morale started sinking on the team.


But Some Things Were Working Well


  • They kept TDD, pair programming, retrospectives, and story points (even though they didn’t use them in the same way as before).


New Practices Implemented by Namioka’s Team


  • Weekly 1 hour planning meetings on Mondays
  • Weekly 1 hour retrospectives on Fridays
  • New measuring stick: 1 point = ½ ideal work day per pair
  • No story can be bigger than 8 points
  • Daily standup focuses on moving stories across the board (not individuals’ work)
  • Pairs were assigned at standup
  • 16th minute for discussions about things other than stories
  • Work in Progress (WIP) = 1 for each pair of developers on the team


How They Made the Transition


  • They had a Lean Coffee session where they came up with a set of new practices
  • They transitioned at the end of their previous sprint boundary
  • They planned for one week at the beginning (and kept that schedule later as well)
  • They created smaller stories


Things that Helped Them Make the Transition


  • Experienced team leadership to guide the process
  • The organization was already Agile
  • Many were already somewhat familiar with Kanban
  • They decided to keep a weekly cadence, even though Kanban doesn’t require that
  • They had an experienced Kanban team close by


How the Team Felt about the New System


  • Loved the feeling of progress being made
  • They liked that the backlog was more visible because it was always being talked about
  • They liked the just-in-time planning
  • They liked smaller stories

From Scrum to Kanban Questions & Tips

From Scrum to Kanban Questions & Tips