Agile vs Kanban: what is better in software development

Agile vs Kanban: what is better in software development


There are so many different project management technologies around, each of them with their own set of pros and cons. Choosing one out of them can be a challenge. The development of these project management technologies have evolved considerably over the years, and thanks to the multiple project management tools, things have been easier. But was that where the discussion ended? No, in order to have a successful software development project, you need to choose among the different methodologies like Agile, Kanban, Scrum etc, and choose the best out of them. 

In this article we will discuss Agile and Kanban, and based on the inputs here you can come to a conclusion on what would be more suitable for your projects. 

More about Agile Methodology

Agile Methodology does not need a particular introduction because, though fairly younger than Kanban, it has been widely used by developers and project managers. The Agile Manifesto was released in 2001 and it talks about a comprehensive set of core values and 12 guiding principles that guides the developers to deliver perfect value. It promotes continuous iteration of development and testing throughout the software development life cycle. Agile was developed as an alternative to the waterfall development process. Agile is perfect when you want continuous communication and direct communication with everyone involved in the project, including stakeholders. 

Advantages of Agile Methodology

1. Centred around ever changing business requirements

With Agile methodology, businesses can create a product that caters to the latest market demands, and can adapt to the ever changing business requirements. This makes Agile highly flexible.

2. Iterative approach

Since agile methodologies use an iterative approach, the processes are improved during each interval. The product is perfected and polished to meet customer demands. 

3. Adaptability

Since the central principle of Agile is adaptability, it can accommodate last minute changes and cater to client’s changing requirements effectively. 

4. Reduced risk

Since the project is constantly assessed and analysed during sprints, the managers have better visibility into the project, and they can spot and eliminate potential problems/issues. They can tackle each and every minor issue and stop them from becoming big hurdles.

Disadvantages of Agile Methodology

The extra flexibility of the Agile Methodology actually has a disadvantage as it can impact the final delivery date, and change the product entirely. Another downside is that often the project demands may not be very clear, and as the developer keeps making changes, it would be difficult to estimate the developer’s time and effort. 

More about Kanban Methodology

Kanban technology is a methodology developed by Toyota in Japan in the early 1940s  (yes, it’s that old) to help improve production efficiency. The main principle of Kanban methodology is simple – focus on one aspect of the project, visualising the project and limiting the number of tasks the experts have to do. Hence the methodology demands full transparency of work and real time communication of the tasks between the members. The members will also be able to see each other’s work, and how far that has progressed. 

Initially, Kanban was meant to help with production line optimisation, then it came to be adapted to use in software development projects and in project management as well. Kanban work can be tracked through visualisation and collaboration tools like Asana and Trello. Kanban lets you break down complex tasks into small chunks, making it easier to work and track. 

Kanban has a method that tracks tasks through each workflow stage. Each activity is recorded on something known as a Kanban card, and it moves forward as the team progresses in the project. 

Advantages of Kanban technology

1. Great for small businesses 

Kanban lets you make the most of the resources that you have. Through continuous tracking, there is scope for continuous improvement. This helps in identifying potential bottlenecks and resolving them as soon as possible. The entire team is always on the same page.

2. You get a really disciplined team

Kanban requires the team members to be disciplined and organised. They have to adhere to the process guidelines. This wouldn’t be a very tough thing because the project is always transparent, and everyone can see what the other is doing. 

3. Easy workflows

Members can easily follow each other’s work, so each of them will be able to see what’s happening. You will be able to organise work in minutes. There is an option to have Work in Progress limits. With these limits, it is possible to highlight any inefficiency or backlog of the team’s workflow. 

Disadvantages of Kanban

Kanban isn’t focused on cross-functional teams. It is not good for projects with lengthy timelines, and it is not suitable for complex projects. It is also important to have a clear structure otherwise it would be difficult to implement it. 

A look at the key differences between Kanban and Agile

  • Agile is more suitable for projects, where the final goal might change as the project evolves. Kanban is more suitable for projects where the goal is set, adding value to the team right from the beginning. 
  • Agile processes promote iterative development. Kanban processes do not allow iterative development.
  • Agile processes follow storyboards, to visually describe a task or scenario. These are representations of the potential issues or user stories. Kanban has Kanban boards; this is an agile project management tool that helps visualise work, maximise work, monitor work in progress. 
  • In the Agile approach, the entire project is broken into small modules. This makes it easier for the teams to develop and test and modify the project during each iteration. A high quality product is finally delivered. Kanban works differently. It displays task workflows. The work is optimised between different teams, making it possible for the different teams to see each other’s work development and progress.
  • The planning for the sprint can take up an entire day, so there is time wastage. Kanban doesn’t require so much time or set up and starts right away.
  • Since there is sprint planning, the planning cycles are also shorter, and that means the changes in the project can be done right away in Agile. Kanban has rapid feedback loops, empowering the team members to be proactive, empowered and performing.


Before deciding which one of the Agile methodologies to go for, you need to consider what you want to achieve with each project. After all, the common goal would be to bring a high quality product into the market. It would be wise to think about the factors that would have made your previous product release better. This can be better done by understanding the current issues the product is facing in the market. It would also be wise to partner with a credible software development company to decide which one would be suitable for your business goal. 

Interesting Links:

Agile, Waterfall, Kanban and Scrum: What the Heck Do These Words Really Mean?

11 major differences between Scrum and Kanban boards

Pictures: Canva

The author: Sascha Thattil works at which is a part of the YUHIRO Group. YUHIRO is a German-Indian enterprise which provides programmers to IT companies, agencies and IT departments.

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