Agile Tools: Scrum Board vs Kanban Board

2021-01-21 11:46:23
Maxx Fey
Summary : 6 differences of Scrum board and Kanban board.

Scrum boards and kanban boards are similar in that they both are used as visual representations to track the progress of specified tasks. In this article, what a Scrum/Kanban board is will be explained and how a Kanban board differs from a Scrum board will be studied.

Although both boards are used to visually track the task status and completion, scrum boards follow a very specific, rigid methodology, while Kanban boards are much more fluid and can be more easily adapted. Take a look at a few major differences between the two boards.

Scrum Board

Scrum board is based on the Scrum framework and is a board for teams to plan their work in detail before they start a project. It usually involves creating sprints and giving story points to user stories to create the Sprint Backlog. From there, you create different versions and sprints and move an issue from backlogs to sprints. Scrum boards have a Plan mode and an Active Sprint mode. The Plan mode is about moving issues from backlogs and giving each one an estimation. The Active Sprint mode is a column based view, where you can move cards (issues) across columns (statuses). It also gives you the ability to Complete Sprints.

Kanban Board

Kanban board allows users to start work without necessarily having a structured plan. The tasks on a Kaban board flow on separated swimlanes and PULLed from the downstream when tasks are completed. The Kanban board uses the same column-based interface as Scrum Active Sprint board for tracking the status of tasks. It is used to visualize work, limit work-in-progress, and maximize efficiency (or flow).

How are Kanban board and Scrum board different

Both Kanban and Scrum boards use physical or virtual sticky notes to show the status of the development task. Usually three status terms are marked on top of the board, including To Do,  In Progress, and Done. Teams expand In Process. Teams can add columns according to their needs, such as Development, Testing, etc. Various online Kanban and Scrum tools allow the whole team to be present on the board: JIRA, ZenTao, Miro, and such.

Kanban board and Scrum board are both Agile tools. However, the two are different in terms of the following aspects.


Scrum board:  In Scrum methodology, teams prioritize work and commit to a certain number of tasks within a sprint, or two-week period. Work is released at the end of each sprint. Therefore, there is a strict timebox for each Scrum board and tasks to be finished on the board.

Kanban Board has no timeframes. The flow continues with the project life cycle and the new items are added as soon as the completed are moved out of the board. It is why the Kanban board is a PULL system.


Scrum board:  When you create the project, you have to assign key roles. The roles usually involved are the Scrum Master, the Product Owner and the Development Team.

Kanban Board: No key role has to be clearly defined, because the Kanban structure is quite fluid.

Work in progress

Scrum board limits work in progress per iteration.

Kanban Board limits work in progress per workflow.


Scrum board: Changes are not supposed to be made during the Sprint, and that is the reason why there is a Sprint Planning meeting before everything starts. You get a chance to discuss and adjust for the next Sprint during the Retrospective meeting at the end of each iteration.

Kanban Board: Teams can make changes at any time. You can add new work items to your project backlog, and remove existing cards and adjust your WIP limit as needed. If there is a bottleneck, allocate more resources or people to that work process.


Scrum board: Yes, prioritization in a Scrum board is a must.

Kanban Board: No, probabilistic forecasting is used instead of prioritization.


Scrum board is using a Velocity as the primary metric, accompanied with charts and reports, including Sprint Burndown Chart, Sprint Report, Epic Burndown, Epic Report, Release Burndown, Velocity Chart, Version Report, etc.

Kanban Board does not prescribe any charts or reports. Although reports are better to be pinned to Kanban since its primary metric is a Lead Time: Control Chart that measures the cycle time for issues and Cumulative Flow Diagram that shows the various statuses of work items for a particular time interval.

How could ZenTao help

Scrum boards are designed specifically for completing user stories and tasks within a specific time frame. You’ll want to use a Scrum board if your team develops based on iterations or sprints.

Kanban feature in ZenTao are quite flexible. You can view tasks and bugs of your team from multiple dimensions, such as Story, Story Priority, Story Phase, AssignedTo, FinishedBy, etc. It also can help

  • Promote team interaction and discussion.
  • Make information visual and easily accessible.
  • Support full team commitment.

If you want to know more about Scrum and Kanban and the difference of the two Agile frameworks, you can read

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