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Can I convert a Scrum project into a Kanban project?

I started a project as a Scrum project, but the backlog concept is not currently helpful. I would like to change it to a Kanban board so I can use the board to help manage the backlog. Is this possible w/o creating a new project. I already have a good dose of issues and confluence content that I would prefer to not tear up.

1 answer

16 votes

Projects are not really scrum or kanban, they're just projects.  You do use project templates when creating them and hence setting up some defaults, but scrum/kanban doesn't actually apply to the project.

Scrum/Kanban is determined by the board not the project.  You can have a board that draws its issues from any number of projects, and the project "type" is irrelevant.

So, to "convert" a project, just create a new Kanban board and tell it to look at that project.  (You can then bin the old scrum board)

A better way to think about boards is that they serve as a pretty user interface for a project. It's true you'll need to change the board to give it a kanban look and feel, but you'll likely need to change the project's workflow too. For instance, you can eliminate a column on your work board, but you might not be able to progress a story if it's trying to reference a column/state that doesn't exist. Other factors to consider when moving from Scrum to kanban include issue type schemes (i.e. you might not want to use Epics), story point estimation (you might want to uses hours of work), and limiting your work in progress (minimize WIP to push issues through the system).

If I don't like to work with sprints anymore, how would I do that, then?

Same answer.  Create a board that suits the way you work, remove the ones you don't need.

Is that supposed to mean something intelligible?

In some cultures, hands placed together in what looks like prayer is in fact thanks.  The person making that gesture would also bow slightly.



I'm familiar with that way of conveying thanks, but only in person.  This is one of the reasons I avoid most simplified graphics.  That one looks like a spaceship (and some other things) to me.  It's a stretch to see it as two hands.

@Nic Brough [Adaptavist] - When I go to the project page for my previously-scrum-project I get an "Active sprints" icon among my choices (on the leftmost part of the screen) which I don't get for a started-as-kanban-from-scratch project, so there must be some qualitative difference, or?

Not the way you're suggesting.  There's nothing at a project level that makes it scrum or kanban.  The boards are a view, not a container.

The project pages read data from the database.  In the past, you've put scrum information into the project.  The project page is reading that and displaying it because it's there.

Darn, almost guessed something like that. Oh well, I'll have to learn to live with it, until we migrate to a new project. Thanks for your answer, though!

ok. hi. Can you please explain how to do that change? thanks.

What change?

[Edit] This is wrong. See follow up.


As other posters also have observed the difference is not as simple as different boards. The Jira UI will change and offer different actions depending on the type of project so just saying "you don't understand , this is just a matter of different boards" is simply not true. You cannot remove all the notions of a Sprint just by making a new board.

The project type have some intrinsic impact on the way a projec is presented in the UI which simply isn't possible to change even as a site admin.

The only way I found to do this on the few occasions I had to do this is to:

  1. Create a new Kanban project (with your wanted workflow, issue types, states, board mappings etc.)
  2. Do a Bulk-move of all issues for each state so you can assign the wanted state in the new Kanban project

Looking forward to be proven wrong :-)

If this were the case, then there would be a flag somewhere that flips the project type and does all the re-configuration work for you.

There is not.

The projects are simply Software projects, that's it. 

You look at them through Scrum or Kanban boards to select which way you want to work with them at the time.  You can point many different boards at a project. 

If you want to remove sprints completely, so that Scrum boards won't have a lot to work with, you could remove the field (but it's hard work and messy, and has no benefits, so don't bother).

You don't need to create a Kanban project, because there's no such thing.  If you want to make your existing project the same as a project that works differently, then change the schemes to your wanted workflow, issue types, etc, and don't bother with the bulk move.

Mea Culpa.

I revisited my assumption. I was wrong. At some stage over the last years I must not have found what I was looking for and just made the bulk-move and must have been blind for all the custom boards I have created when apparently the penny did not drop.

It's now obvious that you make the selection when you create a new board. There you select if you want a Scrum or Kanban board and the UI/Actions adapt to that choice.

This is a good day. I had to revisit something I thought I knew how to do and learnt something in the process.

Not sure if it's recent (I'm a JIRA noob) but there's at least a difference between Next-gen and Classic projects. This is clearly seen when comparing the Project Settings of a Kanban project (lots of options) to that of a Scrum project (limited options). 

Here's an official page that explains how to migrate between these project types.

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