You’re a project manager or developer seeking to learn more about Agile vs Scrum. What is the difference between Scrum and Agile? Which one should you be using?
Both Scrum and Agile are methods of fast, iterative project management and development. But when it comes to the Agile methodology vs Scrum, Agile tends to be a broader philosophy with a broader scope.
Let’s take a look at Agile versus Scrum, what they’re really good at, and how to choose between the two.
What is Agile?
Agile is an iterative method of software development and project management, under which smaller changes are delivered to customers faster. This smaller, iterative approach is intended to deliver products to customers faster.
Under Agile, customers experience the product and its evolution throughout; they are less likely to be unhappy once the product reaches completion. There’s more time for testing because the product is being continuously rolled out and there are fewer large-scale change orders.
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What Are the Pros and Cons of Agile?
Agile has both pros and cons; it’s not well-suited to very large or complex projects because it can be difficult to scale. Smart project managers understand when to apply Agile methodology. Here are our considerations.
- Teams remain flexible and adaptable
- Projects are able to tap into greater levels of creativity
- There are lower costs associated with fewer change requests
- The product is able to move to market much faster
- Quality is reinforced through the iterative process
- Customers tend to be more satisfied
- Employees feel that communication is stronger
- Agile can feel hectic or chaotic if the right structure isn’t in place
- It’s difficult to scale Agile methodologies to larger, complex projects
- Employees need to be trained on Agile methodologies and philosophies
Is Agile a Methodology or a Framework?
Agile is both. As a methodology, Agile is a philosophy for faster and more iterative product delivery. As a framework, Agile’s Manifesto creates a complete description of how Agile companies should operate and how Agile project management should function. Agile is both a software-development approach and an overall project management philosophy that can be applied to many scenarios.
Agile largely replaced Waterfall project management, under which software was broken up into larger releases. While these releases may have been very “complete,” they also introduced larger bug fixes and larger change orders.
Under Waterfall, product owners were only allowed to see projects once they had reached major milestones, at which point there could be equally major changes. Likewise, projects were only tested between these large milestones, which meant there were significantly more errors to find at once.
Which Came First: Agile or Scrum?
Scrum has existed since 1986, whereas Agile was developed in 2001. In many ways, Agile has been born out of Scrum, but Agile also has its own philosophy and set of processes. That being said, Scrum has since been rolled into Agile and has undergone its own evolution.
After the Agile Manifesto was published in 2001, Scrum began to be incorporated into the philosophy. Scrum was refined and improved upon and became one of the ways in which Agile processes could be achieved.
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What is Scrum?
Scrum was first defined in 1986 as a general-purpose approach to project management that emphasized speed and agility. While sometimes stylized as “scrum,” “Scrum,” or “SCRUM,” it all refers to the same underlying framework. Like Agile, Scrum isn’t always applied to software development.
Under Scrum, organizations create time-boxed meetings called “daily scrums,” which is a form of stand-up meeting. Stand-ups, for the uninitiated, keep workers on their feet with the expectation that the topics get covered in a concise way, without wasting time. We often see these used to keep the team well-coordinated and well-aligned.
Furthermore, scrum projects are created within timeboxed iterations, which are called “sprints.” When sprints are completed, the team works together to analyze and improve.
Scrum was introduced when software development wasn’t a major concern, but Agile owes quite a lot to Scrum’s idea of iterative project completion.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Scrum?
Scrum, like Agile, is better designed for short projects that will end quickly. But unlike Agile, Scrum can also be a timesink; because employees need to be so communicative, it’s important to ensure that there is value to each meeting.
- Employees can turn over products quickly
- Scrum ensures that employees communicate effectively
- Large projects can be separated into smaller sprints
- Customers and stakeholders can provide feedback quickly
- Team members are praised for their work regularly
- Issues with pipeline management are revealed immediately
- Without definite end dates, scrum projects can go on for longer than intended
- Scrum relies very strongly on individuals to carry out the project
- Like Agile in general, Scrum can fall apart when asked to scale
- Team members may become fatigued during meetings
Is Scrum a Part of Agile?
Scrum has been folded into the general Agile philosophy and framework, even though Scrum is technically older than Agile. Scrum is considered to be one of the major methods of achieving an Agile development process and some software development companies still use Agile and Scrum techniques.
Can Scrum Be Used Without Agile?
Scrum can be used without Agile, especially by organizations that are not chiefly focused on software development. The very rapid-paced continuous iterative process of Agile may not be well-suited to physical products, for instance, even rapid prototyping. Scrum can be used for more diverse applications than Agile.
Are There Different Types of Agile?
In addition to Scrum, you might hear of other types of Agile. There are many ways to achieve an Agile methodology. They include Kanban, Scrumban, and DevOps.
- Kanban: Kanban is a lean process designed to bring an Agile framework to small, discrete, or direct projects. The major foundation of Kanban is the Kanban board, which is a whiteboard full of Post-it notes. Team members can claim items on the board, start working on items, and then resolve them.
- Scrumban: Scrumban is a hybrid development methodology that falls between Scrum and Kanban. In Scrumban, Scrum is modified with the Kanban methodology to make it easier to use for ongoing projects rather than fast, one-off projects.
- DevOps: DevOps is a recent evolution of Agile methodology that speeds up the Agile process even further. Under DevOps, products are delivered and deployed continuously, so the system remains responsive and constantly in flux.
Depending on your organization, one of the above might work best for your organization. Many organizations also mix and match the features of different Agile methodologies.
What is the Difference Between Agile and Scrum?
Agile is an overarching, robust project management philosophy that is tailored to a specific mission. Scrum is a specific type of project management framework that is frequently used within the Agile methodology to make it easier to manage a project.
To be more specific, Scrum creates a “how,” but Agile creates the “why.”
A larger philosophy of project management and product delivery.
A specific framework for the better management and control of agile teams.
Projects are organized into specific iterations.
Projects are organized into larger milestones called sprints.
Emphasis is on the continuous delivery of the products.
Emphasis is on ensuring that team members are recognized and that issues are resolved.
Ensures that team members are able to work autonomously.
Ensures that team members connect regularly with each other.
Should You Use Agile or Scrum?
If you’re in software development, Agile makes the most sense; but you could always use Scrum within Agile. Many software developers will choose between Agile, Scrumban, or Kanban depending on how long-term their project is, whether there is a clear ending to that project, and how agile that project really needs to be.
However, it should also be noted that more frequently than not, companies are now switching toward DevOps.
Agile is an iterative process with faster releases, but DevOps is an iterative process with continuous releases. DevOps is, in many ways, the natural evolution of Agile. For many organizations, DevOps will make more sense.
Learning More About Agile and Scrum
In conclusion, the major Agile and Scrum difference is that Agile describes a larger philosophy, even if Scrum may have actually originated first. The Agile Scrum methodology has since become entwined; you can create an Agile/Scrum environment using the Agile Scrum framework that operates very neatly together.
How can you learn more about Agile and Scrum? Project management courses, especially those focused on software development, will frequently dig deeply into Agile, Scrum, and other methodologies.
Agile, Scrum, and even DevOps aren’t always the best choices for an organization’s system development, delivery, or deployment. But it is important to know about these options. Agile and Scrum form the basis of the modern project manager’s toolset. They’re very important for not only mobilizing teams but also ensuring product consistency.
If you want to learn more about Agile or Scrum (or Agile vs Scrum) you could first look into project management tutorials. From there, consider a PM certification process. These credentials show employers you understand the fundamentals and have experience with process implementation.
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