agile and scrum

The (Often Ignored) Difference Between Agile and Scrum

12 Nov 2020

AgileCooperationOrganisation

The relation between Scrum and Agile is similar to the one between squares and rectangles. If you use Scrum, you also use Agile. But if you use Agile, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you also use Scrum.

The main difference between Scrum and Agile is that while Scrum is quite specific about how you do your work, Agile describes a certain general approach. To quote Captain Barbossa, it’s more what you call guidelines than actual rules, arr! Together, however, Agile and Scrum make project management and software development easier, quicker, and more cost-effective.

Let’s dive into the matter and try to fully understand the differences—starting with the broader of the two terms.

What is Agile?

Agile is, in its most general aspect, a way of thinking: a collection of methodologies and processes that software developers use to organize their work. It’s focused on benefiting pretty much everyone involved in a project, from the product owner to the client to the end-user.

Contrary to the “classic” approach, which starts with preparation and then proceeds through predefined stages, Agile allows for flexibility through frequent reassessments and course-corrections.

That being said, the main advantages of Agile are as follows.

1. It results in a boost in quality

With the product being tested again and again, and iterated accordingly, it is easy to see why software houses that adopt this approach usually end up delivering higher quality products. You simply put theory to practice and then quickly fix what doesn’t work.

Furthermore, this base-level flexibility allows the product to keep evolving and improving long-term, even years after its initial release.

2. It’s safe for your budget

The Agile development methodology enables the evaluation of project direction through the development lifecycle. It’s achieved via regular iterations, and when the revaluation is done at every iteration, it highly reduces the development costs and time.

3. It lowers the risk of your project

This is directly connected with the previous points. As you iterate your projects, you can more easily notice emerging issues and take any action necessary to counter them. It’s unlikely that you’ll be surprised by something not working as intended when you release your MVP.

4. Transparency

Since Agile encourages the participation of all team members, it makes it easier to follow the progress and accurately estimate the time of reaching the milestones. You know who does what, for when, and if their work is going as intended.

5. Speed and responsiveness

With the iterative approach, not only can you shorten the delivery time of your product, but also respond to feedback immediately. This results in you being able to improve the product much faster than in the traditional model.

What is Scrum?

Scrum is a framework: a specific, well-established way of handling a project. Mind that it’s not a concrete process because you still get wiggle space within it. Still, it does lay down a path for you to follow. 

Scrum is built around Sprints. Fixed, repetitive periods of time and steps to the working product. Focused on meetings: planning, daily (quick synchro), and at the end sprint review, during which you summarize the goals, come up with new ideas, and make any necessary corrections. By having the option to review past sprints during a retrospective meeting, you can see what worked and what didn’t for your team, and find a way to improve things for future Sprints.

The foundation of Scrum is the assignment of roles. 

  • There’s the Project Owner, who oversees the entire thing, knows the goals and expectations, and ideally also the reality of the industry your software house is preparing this project for. 
  • Then there’s the Scrum Master, who helps to organize the work of the team, and, generally, makes sure that goals and organization are understood as well as possible by all parties.
  • Finally, there’s the development team to actually make the vision come true (read about 5 traps, that hinder building the dev team). 

Hey, did you know that we already wrote about Scrum in more detail? Read about backlog items estimation.

What are the pros of Scrum?

The advantages of Scrum are pretty much the same as Agile’s since Scrum is the construction plan to Agile’s idea for building a house. Both serve to quickly deliver new iterations of the product on your way to the MVP. And both support cost control—which, by the way, was something we ALSO wrote about! 

Why not read it when you have a minute to spare? Click HERE for more.

However, the unique benefit of using Scrum is clarity. By this, we understand the ability to manage every small task while not losing sight of the big picture. It’s all about constant communication, and about having people accountable for their area of work. In Scrum, nothing happens “just because,” forcing you to clean up after a mysterious and unexplained disaster.

…But what are the differences?

Since Scrum is subordinate to Agile, there won’t be many differences between the two. After all, are there that many between a square and a rectangle? Scrum exists within Agile. You simply need to remember that it is just one of the many ways to go about when adopting the Agile approach. But it isn’t the only thing that Agile has to offer.

There are numerous frameworks that support the idea of Agile. For example, there’s the scaled-up LeSS, or the Large-Scale Scrum. There’s SAFe, the Scaled Agile Framework combining the principles of Agile and Lean. There’s the Disciplined Agile Delivery… And that’s just the beginning.

Knowing this, there’s just one question you still need to ask yourself.

Is Scrum, and Agile in general, good for my company?

While Scrum is popular among software developers around the world, there are some asterisks that come with it.

If your project repeats something you’ve done a thousand times before, you can probably do without Agile. Scrum is great for endeavors where the requirements are uncertain, where the technology isn’t quite ready yet, and where it’s likely that the direction is going to change at some point. It exists to make unmanageable work on fluctuating projects manageable. This is made possible by well-defined processes with a highly flexible structure.

Scrum is a tried and tested approach whenever a project requires creating a knowledge base, and when it’s based on cooperation. It can help your teams pick up the pace by self-organizing. That’s precisely why we’ve adopted the Agile + Scrum approach at fireup.pro. 

It’s been working great for us, and we hope it’ll work for you as well.

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