Agile vs Scrum - Everything you need to know

Agile is a management framework that breaks down huge projects into smaller tasks in order to repeatedly and continuously approach software development.

8 min
Agile vs Scrum - Everything you need to know

Agile and Scrum have become two of the most popular project development methodologies among software engineers. Do you know which option will help your team meet its project and sprint goals? We've put together the following comparison to help you choose between agile and Scrum.

What is agile?

Agile is a management framework that takes a continuously iterative approach to software development. Agile software development breaks large projects into smaller tasks that managers can track from beginning to end.

The development cycle rarely moves linearly, though, because cross-functional teams build and test features simultaneously.

When agile teams find any barriers to functionality, they can quickly switch tracks to solve the issue and complete deliverables as promptly as possible.

According to the Agile Manifesto, some critical principles of agile project management include:

  • Welcoming requirement changes at any stage of development.
  • Using early, continuous delivery to satisfy customers.
  • Encouraging teamwork between developers and business leaders.
  • Emphasizing the importance of face-to-face conversation.
  • Trusting motivated individuals to do their jobs well.
  • Delivering software frequently and focusing on frequent updates.

Does any of this sound familiar? Agile contributed a lot of concepts to DevOps, so you might already incorporate some of its processes into your development process.

Read our earlier blog post to learn more about the similarities and differences between agile and DevOps.

Why software development teams like Agile

An agile approach to software development projects can benefit teams in several ways. Some of the reasons software developers choose agile methods include:

  • Adapting quickly to changes in customer demand and technical issues
  • Sprint planning that assigns tasks to individuals while encouraging collaboration
  • Frequent feedback that contributes to continuous improvement and shortens the amount of time between releases
  • Daily meetings that address product backlogs, set goals for the next sprint and motivate developers for the tasks ahead

These benefits only work when managers know how to follow agile principles properly. Before adopting the agile framework, teams should address common reasons agile fails, including:

  • Insufficient competency in agile processes
  • Lack of support from management
  • Not enough guidance from product owners
  • Challenges adapting to the cultural changes the agile process requires

Knowing these common reasons for failure should make it easier for you to anticipate challenges and make the necessary changes for successful sprints.

When should I use agile methodology?

Successful use cases for agile usually involve projects that:

  • Don't have clear goals for your product vision or features need further definition
  • Will address difficult challenges that might require multiple approaches
  • The need for ongoing requirement adjustments
  • Have ongoing contracts with the client

What does Scrum mean?

Some people get confused when comparing agile and Scrum because Scrum is a type of agile methodology. Scrum projects tend to expect more unknown factors and accept innovations from self-organizing, cross-functional teams.

It might help to think of scrum processes as even more flexible versions of the agile philosophy.

It still uses iterative development, frequent sprint reviews, and short programming increments, but it gives teams more freedom to experiment and adapt to the challenges they encounter.

What makes scrum special?

Scrum is special because it creates a reliable structure within which teams can experiment to find effective processes. Scrum framework's essential stages include:

  • The client placing an order
  • Sprint planning
  • Creating a spring backlog
  • Assigning tasks to a scrum team
  • Holding daily scrum meetings to review progress
  • Releasing incremental updates
  • Reviewing the sprint

After the spring review, the product gets sent to a sprint retrospective, where it undergoes additional testing and, when necessary, gets recommitted to the sprint backlog. The product can also get recommitted to the product backlog created by the client.

Within the Scrum team, you have a product owner (the client), a scrum master, and developers.

Scrum masters serve as mentors, cheerleaders, and planners. They aren't "project managers" in the typical sense because they work as a part of the team instead of standing outside of the group.

They do, however, have important managerial roles to play. The Scrum Master's roles include:

  • Helping teams focus on high-value increments that move projects closer to completion
  • Removing impediments that might prevent the team from reaching its goals
  • Keeping scrum events positive and productive
  • Gathering information from stakeholders and explaining it to developers
  • Creating empirical measurements for success
  • Teaching team members how to manage themselves and coordinate with other team members

When should I choose Scrum?

You might want to choose Scrum when you:

  • Have a small development team working on the project
  • Plan to test several approaches before you can find a strategy that solves the client's need
  • Want to shorten development cycles

Agile vs. Scrum: pros and cons

Agile and Scrum and their unique pros and cons to consider before applying them to project development.

Agile pros and cons 

Some common benefits of using Agile include:

  1. Agile teams get immediate feedback from testers, end-users, and stakeholders
  2. The flexibility that lets team members prioritize critical tasks instead of following a rigid schedule
  3. Acknowledging that unknown challenges will emerge during the software development process

Some disadvantages of using agile include:

  1. The constantly changing scope of a project can make it difficult or impossible for team members to document modules accurately
  2. The flexibility built into agile can contribute to scope creep, especially when clients ask for a growing number of requirements
  3. While the iterative nature of agile methodologies gives users access to products quickly, it can also prolong the development process as teams address ongoing feedback
Pros and cons of Scrum

Common benefits of choosing Scrum include:

  1. Completing deliverables quickly for clients
  2. Breaking down large projects into smaller tasks that are easier to manage and test
  3. Daily meetings that provide transparency into the project's progress
  4. Shorter sprints that allow for quick, addressable feedback

Disadvantages of using Scrum include:

  1. Potentially significant disruptions when one team member leaves the group
  2. Lacking a defined end date can contribute to scope creep
  3. Daily meetings can become tiresome and annoying to some developers
  4. There isn't much room for a team member who doesn't have exceptional skills or motivation
How Adservio can help

Implementing the best project management methodology often requires a deep understanding of what your team members, stakeholders, and end-users expect.

We have worked with companies around the world, so we can compare the key differences of project management methodologies like agile, Scrum, waterfall, and kanban to find the option that suits your development process best.

Reach out to our team to gain insights into how you can overcome the drawbacks of traditional project management to improve workflows, meet your product development goals on time, and resolve customer needs.

Published on
July 8, 2022

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