Agile Vs. Scrum: What Is The Difference? (With FAQs)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 8 August 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you work as part of a software development team, there are many approaches you can choose from to manage projects. Project managers typically choose one based on factors like their industry, budget and timeline. Learning about two common approaches, Agile and Scrum, can help you in managing your next project. In this article, we explain what Agile and Scrum are, describe the similarities and differences between Agile vs. Scrum and answer frequently asked questions about these two approaches.

Overview Of Agile Vs. Scrum

When you are exploring Agile vs. Scrum, it is essential to understand what they are and their purposes. Here are definitions that provide an overview of each approach:

What is Agile?

Agile is a project management philosophy designed to help software development teams create quality products quickly and effectively. It focuses on iterative processes, client involvement and efficiency in responding to project changes. Instead of traditional project management methods that focus on documentation and delivering a product at the end of the project, Agile emphasises collaboration and the ability to provide a functional product to the client at regular intervals throughout the project. This philosophy includes many methodologies that use the Agile Manifesto, a set of guiding principles, in different ways. Here are the principles of the Agile philosophy:

  • Satisfy the customer through continuous software delivery.

  • Welcome and adapt to change to promote the client's ability to compete in the market.

  • Deliver working software at established intervals, typically every two weeks to two months.

  • Establish cross-functional teams to encourage effective communication.

  • Build projects around motivated professionals and give them the required resources.

  • Communicate in person as often as possible.

  • Measure progress through the ability to deliver working software.

  • Sustain a consistent, sustainable working pace the team can maintain indefinitely.

  • Continuous attention to technical details enhances the product's agility.

  • Maintain simple processes that eliminate unnecessary tasks.

  • Allow teams to self-organise to generate value for the client.

  • Reflect on efficacy at regular intervals and change processes accordingly.

Related: 37 Common Agile Interview Questions With Example Answers

What is Scrum?

Scrum is an Agile methodology that focuses on dividing a project into smaller phases called sprints with established deadlines. After each sprint, the team delivers a working project to the client to ensure their satisfaction with the project. They also communicate with the client and other stakeholders and use their feedback to implement changes as needed before starting the next sprint. Scrum embodies the Agile principles by producing deliverable products quickly and regularly, encouraging client involvement and adapting to frequent changes.

Related: Learn How To Become A Scrum Master (With Tips And Skills)

Comparison Of Agile And Scrum

As Scrum is a type of Agile methodology, the two approaches have many similarities. There are also key differences between Scrum and other Agile methodologies to consider when choosing one. Here is a comparison of their primary features:

Structure

As a philosophy, Agile prioritises principles and goals for projects while maintaining a loosely defined structure. It focuses on process evaluation, optimisation, feedback, change and monitoring. This design allows teams to implement Agile's components in different ways, particularly through one of its established methodologies. Scrum projects start with a product backlog, where the team defines the product requirements. Next is a sprint meeting, where they discuss plans for the first sprint, followed by a sprint backlog. The team then continues completing sprints, reviewing them with stakeholders, making changes if necessary and repeating this process until they complete the project.

Related: 9 Project Management Types For A Project Manager

Team collaboration

All Agile methodologies value teamwork and emphasise collaboration as an essential aspect of producing agile, quality products efficiently. Some approaches have a single project leader who oversees a team of professionals whose duties often overlap. Scrum differs from those Agile processes because it involves multiple designated roles. While Scrum teams may work independently during sprints, they collaborate after completing each one and work together to determine how to implement changes. Scrum team roles include:

  • Product owner: This role involves motivating the team to reach the project's mission and goals and maximise the quality of the product.

  • Scrum Master: A Scrum Master is a title for a team leader, typically a project manager, who provides coaching and support to the team to ensure they meet project requirements.

  • Team member: A Scrum team member is one of five to eight professionals who each have an essential role in creating the product.

Related: What Is A Scaled Agile Framework? (Principles And Benefits)

Product delivery

The Agile philosophy places an emphasis on the involvement of the client in the development process. Agile teams believe that introducing a product to the client at regular intervals allows them to gather important feedback and address changes immediately. The goal of this approach is to avoid delivering an unsatisfactory product at the end of development, which can lead to costly delays. While some Agile methodologies involve delivering a product continuously, Scrum teams do so at the end of each sprint. They then use stakeholder feedback to make adjustments to the product before the next sprint.

Related: What Is A Sprint In Agile? (Definition, Benefits And Example)

Key metrics

Agile methodologies require the use of key performance indicators (KPIs) to ensure teams stay on schedule and monitor their progress towards project goals. Each methodology focuses on different primary KPIs as a measure of the team's efficiency. For example, Kanban focuses on cycle times and the amount of work delivered. The primary KPI for Scrum is speed, which teams focus on through sprints. The short time frame and strict deadlines for each sprint make working quickly to produce a quality product a necessity. Teams that stay on schedule with sprints are often successful in completing Scrum projects.

Related: 10 Scrum Master Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

Product changes

A core aspect of the Agile philosophy is openness to change at any stage of the development process. Agile teams welcome the opportunity to evaluate client feedback and implement changes accordingly. This allows them to deliver a final product that requires minimal or no changes. Some Agile methodologies make modifications continuously throughout the project. Just as Scrum teams deliver working products at the end of each sprint, they also apply client feedback about the product and its features at these set, regular intervals.

Related: 16 Types Of Scrum Master Certifications And Their Benefits

Client communication

Agile teams cannot deliver products and implement changes throughout the project duration unless they maintain frequent communication with clients. The Agile philosophy uses client involvement as a guide during product development instead of lengthy documentation, which traditional development teams value. Agile also encourages communication among team members. While some Agile methodologies promote cross-functional collaboration, which requires constant communication, Scrum typically involves daily team meetings and post-sprint stakeholder meetings.

Related: Communication Skills In Leadership: Importance And Benefits

FAQs About Agile And Scrum

When you are researching project management methodologies, you may have questions to ask that can help you make an informed decision. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about Agile and Scrum:

What are some advantages of Agile methodologies?

Project managers often choose Agile methodologies because they may benefit the team, the organisation and the client. Here are some potential advantages of Agile:

  • Customer satisfaction

  • Product quality

  • Team efficiency

  • Project adaptability

  • Effective communication

  • Reduced risk

Related: Top 20 Project Manager Interview Questions With Answers

Is Waterfall an Agile methodology?

Waterfall project management is not an Agile methodology. As a more traditional development process, it has a linear structure and encourages teams to complete their tasks independently to finish each distinct stage. After project managers approve the completion of a stage, the team moves to the next one and does not revisit completed stages. Waterfall teams rarely communicate with the customer until the end of the project when they deliver the finished product. Some project managers find Waterfall a suitable approach for small, well-defined projects with clear goals and Agile methodologies for larger, more complex projects.

Related: 55 Waterfall Methodology Interview Questions (With Answers)

How can you choose between Scrum and other Agile methodologies?

When choosing an Agile methodology, you can consider many factors to determine the approach that suits your project. First, outline your goals. If you have strict development deadlines, Scrum may be a good fit. Next, determine the project requirements. Scrum may be optimal if you expect the requirements to change consistently throughout the project. Finally, evaluate the skills of your team members. Scrum team members typically have extensive experience in their roles, so if you have entry-level professionals on your team, you might consider a different Agile methodology for your project.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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