Having issues with the Sprint timebox and unfinished user stories in Scrum? Check out ‘Kanban applied to Scrum’

by Sampath Prahalad

I have faced some of the below problems with the rigid Sprint timebox (of 2 weeks, 3 weeks or what have you).

  1. A case of ‘The Sprint feels too long’: Product manager is under pressure to address an issue from Production quickly. However, the product development team is in the middle of a 3 week Sprint and will not take in any new user stories. This means that the issue in Production will need atleast 2 weeks to get picked up and 3 more weeks to get Done.
  2. Another case of ‘The Sprint feels too long’: The Sprint has just begun and a small user story is already complete and will add value once it is deployed to production. However, the Sprint end is 2 weeks away and deployment to production will happen with other user stories.
  3. A case of ‘Can’t the Sprint be longer?’: Product manager has come up with a feature to implement Google Analytics. However, the Product development team knows nothing about it. They know for sure that it cannot be done in the 2 week Sprint and are PM is having a tough time splitting it down to something achievable in 2 weeks.
  4. A case of ‘User story going beyond Sprint boundary’: The Product development team got cracking on the seemingly simple user story and discovered road blocks and complexities on the way. Now, with 2 days in the Sprint, the team needs a week more to get Done. Work flows over in to the next Sprint. Should this user story wait till the end of next Sprint to go Live even though it will be done within the first week of the next Sprint?

To most or all the above issues, is Kanban the answer? Kanban does not work on timeboxes (like Sprints in Scrum) and in fact works on maximizing flow and limiting Work in Progress (WIP).

See this chalk talk video from Rally to get a better understanding of the differences between Scrum and Kanban.

Also, check out this fast paced video on how Kanban helps to solve some of Scrum problems.

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