Understanding Kanban vs. SCRUM

When it comes to improving production and reducing waste in the workplace, Kanban and SCRUM are two very popular strategies. They are very similar, and many people even think that they have so much in common that they both shouldn’t be used at the same time. While in most facilities only one of them will be used for a given situation, it is very possible to implement both of these options to try to get the best possible results. Learning as much as you can about both Kanban and SCRUM will help you to determine which of these is best for a given situation, or if it would be better to use both of them at once.

What is Kanban?

Kanban is a processed used for managing materials, parts, products, and information within a facility. The name comes from the Japanese word for signboard or card. This is because the processes uses visual indicators to let people know when an action should be taken. When first developed, for example, someone who was performing a task on an assembly line would put up a specific card when they were running low on one type of supply. This would alert other members of the team to resupply that area with the materials that were needed.

While some places still use physical cards to manage the supply and other aspects of production, it is becoming more common to do this digitally. This could be as simple as switching on a light when a product is needed, or much more complex. Some facilities will use computer systems to monitor inventory and send a signal to the supply warehouse when levels reach a specific point. No matter what method is used, the Kanban process is largely focused on reducing excess inventory and bringing out what is needed when it is needed.

What is SCRUM?

Scrum is a system that can be put in place to help a team collaborate when working on creating a complex product. The system has a number of roles associated to it, which helps people to know what they should be doing and when. It is relatively easy to understand and get started with in a workplace, but can become as complex as needed based on the tasks that need to be completed.

The term SCRUM comes from the sport of rugby. It encourages everyone on the team to learn together, benefit from shared experiences, and improve organization when working on a project. By assigning everyone on the SCRUM team a specific roll, it is possible to ensure all the essential tasks are getting done properly every time.

In order to organize everything on a SCRUM team, the facility will make use of SCRUM boards. This is where Kanban and SCRUM start to have a lot in common. The SCRUM board is used to indicate when a task needs to be done, and when someone has completed it, as well as provide other information. Using this form of visual communication it is possible to get everyone working effectively together, without having to stop to have meetings and other time wasting events all the time.

Letting Progress Guide the Work

In both of these systems there is no need to schedule exactly when something is supposed to happen. Instead, things will be triggered by the progress that is made by the team. In the Kanban system, for example, there is no need to have supplies dropped off at a machine once per hour. Instead, the machine operators will simply put up the Kanban card when the supplies are needed. Sometimes this will mean getting more supplies several times an hour, and other times it won’t be needed for much longer.

With SCRUM, the requirements of a task are put up on the SCRUM board and everyone knows their role. When each step in a process is completed, it will indicate that the next steps are ready to go. Members of the SCRUM team will then pick up and begin the work that they need to do. In some situations everyone will be waiting on one member to finish a task before they can do anything, so they can work on other projects. In other situations, everyone will be working on separate tasks that do not rely on other steps to be done, so everyone stays busy.

Two Great Systems

Both of these systems have been used in manufacturing, information management, and other industries. They are a very effective way to get work done quickly and efficiently. Choose which one of these options is best for your situation, or see if using both of them would be a good fit.

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