How to get the most out of UpWave – Introduction to Agile Process Frameworks

UpWave – Task Management for Teams Made easy


Here at UpWave we are dedicated to empowering teams to get more done together and simplify work processes. If you already are a user of UpWave there’s a chance you are familiar with agile processes, and may have heard about Scrum and Kanban. If the previous sentence filled you with confusion and terror, fear not! We will make it a breeze to learn a little bit more about these techniques. They have made teams of all shapes and sizes more effective.

Kanban vs. Scrum

So what is Scrum and Kanban any way?

Put simply, Scrum and Kanban are two different methods to help you work more effectively by giving your work structure and simple processes to follow. Kanban and Scrum are two terms that are often (incorrectly) used interchangeably but in reality, they have significant differences.

640px-simple-kanban-board-1

Scrum on the surface

Scrum is a tool used to organize work into small, manageable pieces that can be completed by a cross-functional team within a prescribed time period, or a so-called “sprint”. A Sprint is typically between 2-4 weeks long.  

For you to plan, organize, administrate, and optimize this process, Scrum relies on at least three prescribed roles:

    1. Product Owner-  responsible for initial planning, prioritizing, and communication with the rest of the company.  
    2. Scrum Master – responsible for overseeing the process during each sprint.
    3. Team Members – responsible to carry out the purpose of each sprint.

Additionally, the Scrum Board is a vital part of this methodology. The Scrum Board is a visual presentation of the workflow, broken down into manageable chunks called “stories”. The stories can be moved along the board to signalize state of work – from the backlog, which is the “to-do list” into work-in progress (WIP) and on to completion.

Kanban at the surface

The Kanban methodology dates back more than 50 years. Same as Kanban, this tool is used to organize and visualize the workflow for the sake of efficiency.

There are four fundamental Kanban principles:

  1. Visualize work to increase communication and collaboration.
  2. Limit work in progress to avoid an endless chain of non-prioritized open tasks.
  3. Measure and optimize the flow, collect metrics, predict future problems.
  4. Aim for continuous improvement as the result of analysis.

Similar to Scrum, Kanban encourages work to be broken down into manageable chunks and use a Kanban Board. The Kanban Board is very similar to the Scrum Board – it is used to visualize work as it progresses through the workflow.  A basic Kanban Board has a three-step workflow

  1. To do
  2. In Progress
  3. Done

Depending on Team´s size, structure and objectives, the workflow can be adjusted to meet the unique processes of any particular team. The Kanban Board is broken down by Kanban Cards. These cards feature critical information on given work, who is responsible for what, estimated time period for work to be completed and so on.

The difference at a glance

Kanban and Scrum share similar concepts but have different approaches.

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Difference between Kanban and Scrum: (https://www.atlassian.com/agile/kanban)

The board itself: On a Scrum Board, the columns are labeled to reflect periods in the workflow, beginning with the backlog and ending with what needs to get done. All the stories added to the board at the beginning of each sprint should be found in the final column at the end of that sprint. After completion of the sprint, the board is cleared and prepared for the next sprint. On the Kanban board, columns are as well labeled to illustrate workflow states. But the difference from Scrum is that they allow only for a maximum amount of stories for each column as well there are no required time boxes, such as the sprint length. The Kanban board will continue to flow for as long as the project continuous, stories can be added and edited throughout the entire time

Scheduling: While Scrum place heavy emphasis on schedule, limitations to time allowed to accomplish a particular task, meaning sprints, as well there are set deadlines. For Kanban, there are no required time boxes, while there are limits to the amount of tasks that can be ongoing.

Roles and responsibilities: Scrum Team requires at least 3 roles that need to be assigned for effectively process the work: Product Owner, Scrum Master and Team Members. Kanban on the other hand has no set roles. Normally, the roles evolves with the needs of the project and the organization. The team in Kanban is not required to be cross-functional as in Scrum.

Who can benefit from it?

While these two methodologies is known as being popular framework used by software and engineering teams. It is however shown that these processes have been gaining steadily popularity in other fields. The processes can be beneficial for anyone working on any sort of complex project, for example if you work in Marketing and you are working on an ad campaign, it could definitely be beneficial for your Team. 

No tool is complete, no tool is perfect

So you might end up asking – which methodology is the best approach? There really is no way to answer this, the final rank depends on the problem you are trying to solve.

Both Scrum and Kanban are powerful, proven processes tools that can vastly improve whatever you are working on. Luckily, UpWave has the flexibility that suit your workflow needs, so the best option is to become familiar with both Scrum and Kanban and experiment to see which approach is better for your overall strategy.

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Useful resources:

Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business

The Scrum Guide

http://scrumguides.org

https://www.crisp.se/file-uploads/Kanban-vs-Scrum.pdf

https://realtimeboard.com/blog/choose-between-agile-lean-scrum-kanban/#.WDbDiuHhC8U

http://www.informationweek.com

Introducing our newest features

We have rolled out new features silently since August 17th. Many of these have been requested by our most active users. Thanks!

Some highlights:
– Subtasks – just enter subtasks on any card
– My assigned cards – see your overdue cards and upcoming workload
– Public api – https://www.upwave.io/api/ (for integrating other services)
– Set board background image (see screenshot)

Screenshot note: remember to use a neutral image to ensure good readability.

  • Copy card – Click “more options” (the dots) on any card, and copy card.
  • Import board – click “import board” lower left on main team page.
  • Export board – click the dots top right on any board (in team view)  or in the drop-down menu if inside a board.
  • Icons on cards displaying subtask progress and if the card has comments or not.
  • A “toast” that gives a confirmation on saving card/color/columns etc.
  • New board settings – makes navigation between administrating the board and actually working on the board much easier. All users may also see the settings but some users may not be able to edit the settings. The settings can in addition be opened from the dashboard. In the participant list on this panel, you can see when a participant last visited the board.
  • We added a new option to “Leave board”.

Thanks once again to our international and growing user community for providing feedback! Please continue keeping in touch.

The UpWave team