Rohan and Rushi have known each other since their college days. They were in the same class before entering the same profession of project management after completing their degrees. Even though they’re good friends, the two are quite competitive when it comes to their professional equation.
As project managers with two leading organizations in the same city, Rohan and Rushi often end up pitching to the same clients. During one such pitch for an artificial intelligence product, Rohan and Rushi deliver excellent presentations but with one key difference. Rohan bases his pitch around Agile while Rushi centers hers around Scrum.
“Is Scrum and Agile the same? Or are they different? If they are, what is the difference between Agile and Scrum?” asks the client, to which both Rohan and Rushi provide comprehensive answers. Eventually, though, the client sides with Rohan, and Agile wins.
Two months later, at an almost identical pitch, this time for a telecommunications client, Rohan and Rushi square off once more, with Rushi’s preference for Scrum prevailing this time.
Just like Rohan and Rushi’s individual abilities as project managers, there’s very little to choose between Agile and Scrum as project management approaches or methodologies.
What Is Agile?
Agile is a philosophy or framework for project management that adopts an iterative approach toward the completion of a project. According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), the goal of the Agile approach to project management is to create early, quantifiable return on investment through well-defined, iterative delivery of product features. The iterative nature of Agile means that continuous involvement with the client is required to ensure that the expectations of the client are aligned with every step of the Agile process.
As part of Agile, development and testing activities are concurrent, unlike most other project management approaches. Agile is also known for encouraging face-to-face communication and teamwork. Industry experts generally consider Agile to be more suited for small but expert teams that already have a minimal level of experience in project management.
Agile consists of several different project management methodologies, the most common among which are Scrum, Kanban and Extreme Programming (XP).
What Is Scrum?
Scrum is one of the most popular Agile methodologies favored by project managers. Whereas Agile is more of a philosophy or orientation, Scrum constitutes a specific methodology, which is also the biggest difference between Agile and Scrum. Scrum takes into account the following things concerned with a project—identification of the work required, the appointment of personnel for the work, distribution of time and resources for the work, and fixing of deadlines within which to complete the work.
The Scrum methodology is made up of short phases called ‘sprints’ during which project work is done. Each sprint, which usually lasts for a two to four-week period, is designed to fulfill a small part of the scope of the overall project. So when all the sprints are over, an entire project is completed.
It’s common for Scrum teams to review each sprint immediately after it finishes as well as to reflect on it at a later point so that necessary changes can be implemented for better execution of subsequent sprints.
Similarities Between Agile And Scrum
Is Scrum and Agile the same?
The short answer is no. But there are some overlapping characteristics that often confuse professionals when it comes to the question of Agile vs Scrum. The two share certain similarities, but it’s their more numerous and significant differences that lead to them being compared endlessly.
Before delving into Agile methodology vs Scrum and what is the difference between Agile and Scrum, it’s worthwhile to look at the similarities between the two:
- Both Agile and Scrum are primarily used in the field of software development
- Both rely on iterative processes and frequent client interaction
- Both place a high value on teamwork and collaborative decision-making
- Both try to integrate client feedback into the development process
Difference Between Agile And Scrum
What is the difference between Agile and Scrum? Which of the two is better suited for contemporary project management? Which option should project managers prefer in the Agile methodology vs Scrum face-off? Who comes out on top in the Agile project manager vs Scrum master contest?
The following section provides all the answers:
The most important Agile and Scrum difference is that the former is a philosophy or approach to project management while the latter is a type of Agile methodology. This means that all Scrum is Agile, but all Agile isn’t Scrum.
The second crucial Agile and Scrum difference relates to how each is constituted. Scrum is broken down into short phases called sprints, which are used to divide the deliverables into small units. With Agile, however, there are no such divisions and everything is delivered at the end of the project.
Agile usually requires members to switch roles or multitask as cross-functional teams are the norm. But with Scrum, each project team has specific roles, such as that of the scrum master or the product owner. The Agile methodology vs Scrum question often extends into an Agile project manager vs Scrum master comparison. Such a comparison, however, is needless, for both have completely different roles and needn’t be seen as exact counterparts. For an Agile project manager, overall project supervision is combined with individual contributions to the project. As for the Scrum master, the main task is to be accountable for the Scrum team and to ensure that the team follows the Scrum methodology properly.
Rigidity Vs Flexibility
The next Agile and Scrum difference is that Agile is a relatively rigid approach as compared to the extremely flexible Scrum, which incorporates changes much faster and is designed to adapt instantly.
Design And Execution
Another major difference between Agile and Scrum is that in Agile the design and execution are extremely simple, guided by a designated leader who’s usually the project manager. For Scrum, the design and execution tend to be innovative and experimental, and is not under the leadership of one individual but monitored by the entire team whose members look after specific aspects of the project.
Project managers often cite feedback as a decisive criterion in the difference between Agile and Scrum. Whereas Agile encourages feedback from the end-user at any stage during the entire process of development, Scrum has fixed periods for feedback, whether from the internal team or the user. These feedback periods for Scrum conventionally take place at the end of a sprint.
It’s clear from the points above that Agile and Scrum each have their advantages and disadvantages when compared directly against each other. At the same time, it’s vital to note that Agile is often seen as a stepping stone to learning and using Scrum. A lot of project managers first opt to master Agile before stepping up to tackle Scrum. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Scrum is the superior option and that it comes out on the top in the Agile vs Scrum battle. Rather, it means that Scrum is more technical and complex and is best handled when prior experience of using Agile is already in place.
Agile Vs Other Methodologies
Scrum isn’t the only methodology with which Agile has differences on multiple fronts. Some of the key differences between Agile and other popular methodologies are illustrated below.
Agile vs Waterfall
Unlike Agile’s iterative approach, Waterfall project management is linear in nature and doesn’t allow for revision of previous phases or steps. While Agile is more suited for large projects that may have changeable goals, Waterfall works best for small projects with clear end goals. Finally, Agile actively involves clients in its development process whereas Waterfall usually steers clear of client involvement.
Agile vs Kanban
Kanban, like Scrum, is a type of Agile methodology. Kanban is built around workflow visualization using a tool called a Kanban board. Each board is composed of columns showing a specific stage in the project management process. As the project progresses, cards present on the board move from column to column indicating the exact progress. This means that, unlike Agile, Kanban has limitations regarding how many tasks can be in progress at once. New tasks can’t begin in Kanban until all previous ones have been completed, which isn’t the case for Agile.
Beyond Agile Vs Scrum
While understanding different methodologies and approaches is important, project management is much more than wrestling with the Agile and Scrum difference. At Harappa, you can obtain a thorough and holistic training in project management with the help of the Executing Solutions course. Taught by a world-class faculty using frameworks such as the Bifocal Approach and the BLAST (Believe, Listen, Apologize, Satisfy and Thank) approach, this course will equip you to delegate deliverables, monitor progress and navigate crises.
Not only will you master Agile and Scrum and the different techniques involved in each, but you’ll also be able to strike the right balance between cost, quality and timing, the three most crucial determinants of a successful project. Sign up for the Executing Solutions course today and take the next step in improving your project management skills.
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