Developing software with cross-functional teams can be a hassle, especially if you don’t have a simple and organized framework in place. This is why many data scientists and software engineers often implement Agile or Scrum. Determining whether you should use Agile vs Scrum can be challenging if you do not understand their key differences.
What if the project requires more flexibility? What if the project is constantly changing and undergoing updates? This is where Agile project management methodologies, including Scrum, come into play. Below we map out when to use Scrum vs Agile, as well as the differences between Agile and Scrum.
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What Is Agile?
Agile is an iterative approach to developing software that emphasizes continuous improvement, testing, and development. This means that products undergo testing, development, and review nearly simultaneously. This is why Agile stands opposite Waterfall, an approach that leaves little to no room for changes.
The Agile project management framework branches out into a range of methodologies. These include Kanban, Extreme Programming (XP), Lean, and Scrum, each of which differs in priorities, time management, and team structure.
What Is Scrum?
Scrum is an Agile methodology that allows the implementation of different methods throughout the software development lifecycle. The Scrum methodology puts the focus on teamwork, collaboration, and effective communication during the software development process.
Scrum is all about time management and delivering results, which is why the project development is divided into time-boxed iterations that are called sprints. Sprints require the team to work on product development in increments. These usually last anywhere from two to four weeks.
What Is Agile Scrum Methodology?
The Agile Scrum methodology is based on incremental development. The Scrum team is composed of the product owner, the Scrum Master, and the development team. The product owner works with the client to determine the preliminary requirements of the product. After the requirements are determined, sprint planning begins.
Afterward comes the sprint planning. A sprint forecast is created by the Scrum team, followed by a sprint backlog. This contains the to-do tasks for a certain sprint. As a result, the development team produces a working software product.
Each sprint culminates in a sprint review and a sprint retrospective. The sprint review focuses on the product itself. The sprint retrospective, on the other hand, focuses on the process. These discussions determine what worked well and what could work better.
Scrum vs Agile: Most Important Differences and Similarities
In all effective software development methodologies, there are both shared practices and unique aspects. Understanding the differences between Agile vs Scrum is the first step in determining which is more appropriate for different scenarios. Below we’ve broken down the differences between Agile vs Scrum.
Nature and Scope
While often pitted against each other, Agile and Scrum are actually interrelated, with the latter being a subset of the former. Agile, at its core, is a project management philosophy guided by principles laid out in the Agile Manifesto. Agile uses a more rigid traditional waterfall scope and approach.
Scrum, on the other hand, is only one of the many methodologies that fall under Agile. Unlike Agile, Scrum delivers results via an incremental process. This means that a passable product is produced and released while the product is still under development. This opens the door to advanced strategic marketing and revenues. This makes the Scrum methodology popular amongst businesses.
Agile, by definition, is open, experimental, and receptive to change. It is possible for teams to adapt to change continuously. Additionally, it makes it easier to track progress over time.
In contrast, Scrum, on the other hand, is better suited to projects whose requirements, goals, and timelines are well defined. It is not a good fit for projects that are constantly adapting and changing, as it is not easily adaptable.
The Agile process has a team leader that keeps a project team on task for the entire iterative process. This team leader is responsible for ensuring the Agile methodologies are taking place appropriately and that roadblocks are removed so that the project can work more effectively and efficiently.
Scrum teams, on the other hand, are self-organized. The team itself makes the decisions, so bureaucracy and detours via hierarchical levels do not disrupt flexible options for action. These teams work better as a collaborative since they know their needs.
Product Delivery and Review
In terms of product delivery, the Agile process has a cross-functional team that delivers output almost nonstop. This is to ensure continuous review and provision of regular feedback to the team.
In contrast to this, the Scrum process conducts reviews at the end of each sprint. In order to determine where improvement can be achieved, these sprints are viewed as a whole and dissected as a team to determine where improvement can be made.
One of the similarities between Agile and Scrum is that they are both iterative approaches. Iterative processes are cyclical processes in which steps are repeated rather than linear processes in which each step only occurs once.
In an interactive process, a team creates, tests, and revises a product or solution until it is satisfied with its quality. The goals of a project can be achieved through repeated changes and improvements in an interactive process.
Both Agile and Scrum aim to deliver products at the earliest time possible. With Scrum, the sprint’s goal is to deliver objectives within a month. With Agile, the constant iterative approach allows for the daily delivery of goals.
Both Agile and Scrum use estimates, points, and hours to determine a product’s release, update, or completion. These points keep the team on track and are regularly reviewed to ensure they are being met appropriately.
Both Scrum and Agile prioritize improvement, communication, and full transparency within cross-functional teams. This means that those who utilize either of these want to have a better line of communication with their teams. Doing so leads to better implementation of strategies and quicker improvement of performance deficiencies.
Additionally, both Agile and Scrum map out direct lines of communication. This creates an efficient and direct approach. This open communication allows for teams to strategize key changes or a new plan at the next stage of the Agile process.
Scrum vs Agile: Pros and Cons
Every product management and implementation process comes with both pros and cons. The same can be said about Agile and Scrum. Below we have outlined Agile and Scrum pros and cons to help you determine which methodology is best for your collaboration.
- Simplicity. For the Agile process, simplicity is key. The tasks never go overboard; you only do what is enough for now. This can be attractive to teams as this can help define easy-to-understand goals and objectives.
- Continuous delivery. In keeping with the Agile Manifesto, constant delivery to the team leader and client are paramount. Agile teams deliver updates, developmental changes, and more daily. This makes it easier to monitor the progress of the project.
- Effective communication. Along with the daily delivery of output are regular face-to-face communication and open discourse. This can be a great method for achieving all goals set out before a cross-functional team.
- Time commitment. Since Agile team members and clients need to be in constant communication, it can take a lot of time to actually get things done. If you can’t complete a goal because a superior didn’t get the daily briefing, it could set the team back.
- Documentation. A significant part of the software development process involves documenting the various changes and implementations done. With Agile, there is no hard-line requirement for having documentation. This can lead to confusion if something goes wrong in the development process.
- Fragmented output. The Agile methodology may help bring products to market faster, but incremental delivery has many disadvantages. For instance, teams often work on different components in different cycles, resulting in fragmented output rather than one cohesive product.
- Independence. While Scrum teams partake in both Scrum review and retrospective when all’s said and done, there’s quite a bit of independence among the members. For several weeks, Scrum teams diligently work on their particular tasks within sprints. All of their focus, energy, and time goes into these few tasks.
- Sprint review. The sprint review serves two purposes. First, it allows the Scrum team to learn from their accomplishments as well as their shortcomings. Second, it allows them to create what’s called a ‘build’ for their clients. This is essentially a detailed and comprehensive summary of the sprint.
- Self-contained. With the Scrum process, there aren’t many changes to the organizational structure. The assignment of roles, though merit-based, is flexible. For example, Scrum Masters need not be actual company managers.
- No team leader. While some may see this as a pro, having no team leader for developing software can be a risky proposition. Instead of a team leader, the Scrum team itself goes over all the details. This could potentially lead to disorganization.
- Not ideal for larger teams. Scrum can be a great addition to any small to moderately-sized team. However, its sprints and unique iterative approach may not work well for a large group. While not impossible, implementing its more tightly-knit and hyper-focused aspects can be a challenge.
- No substitutes. Since sprints consist of a few team members, the sudden departure of a member could impede the team’s progress. Scrum relies on its Scrum Master to ensure that each step of the methodology is occurring. Additionally, someone needs to understand the framework in its entirety. It is hard to substitute a Scrum Master without implementing a plan for such a circumstance well in advance.
Should You Use Scrum or Agile?
So, which of the two software development methodologies do you choose? Agile or Scrum? If you’re a project manager, then the answer depends on how your team goes about accomplishing things. Let’s see some direct advantages of choosing both Scrum and Agile.
Advantages of Choosing Agile
Agile software development is perfect for those who want open and transparent communication. This allows for a better connection with team members, leaders, and clients. The iterative approach of daily updates and releases decreases costly mistakes. Using Agile is the best course of action when clients and shareholders need constant assurance or updates on products.
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Advantages of Choosing Scrum
The sprints and sprint reviews are great ways to focus intently on a specific facet of a project and improve upon deficiencies. There is also a greater level of independence within the Scrum framework. Leadership can be fluid and doesn’t change the overall makeup of a company. Developing software receives a hyper-focused approach.
Scrum vs Agile FAQ
Scrum in Agile is an iterative process that allows for project management. With Scrum, people can address complex adaptive problems while delivering high-quality products productively and creatively. This is a collaborative process that is based on teams efficiently and effectively creating, implementing, and releasing a product.
How is Agile different from traditional project management?
Agile is different from traditional project management because Agile allows for a flexible approach, whereas traditional project management relies on a rigid approach. Agile methodologies involve team collaboration, outside feedback, and flexibility throughout the lifecycle of the project.
Is Agile a methodology or a framework?
Agile is an umbrella term that encompasses multiple methodologies and frameworks. Agile is often referred to as a methodology and a framework in the manifesto by the founders of Scrum and by other professionals.
Which is better, Agile or Scrum methodology?
Agile methodology is better for releasing increments of technology and software on a regular basis. Scrum is better for developing and implementing working software in sprints of two to four weeks in length. It follows a more rigid schedule that is not as open to adaptability. Determining whether agile or scrum methodology is better depends on the product and project being created.
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