There are few people today who are seriously involved in software development without coming across Scrum vs Agile terms. One of the project management questions that gets asked continuously is which one is better and right for your project or team?

At Async Labs, we emphasize agility and adaptability and use the Scrum agile method. Because we are a smaller agency, we can quickly adapt to changes and client wishes.

This blog post will describe what Scrum vs Agile means in project management, their fundamental differences, and how to choose your project’s right approach.

Project management process

Suppose you are unfamiliar with the terminology and processes of project management. In that case, things can be a bit frightening. There are many roles and responsibilities that project managers fulfill as part of their jobs’ day-to-day functions.

They are responsible for identifying and managing risks associated with their projects, creating an effective project plan, ensuring that projects stay within their various constraints, etc.

There are many different methodologies for different types of projects. Two of the most common approaches to project management are Agile and Waterfall, both used to describe the process of software development.

The waterfall model is a linear project management approach. In this methodology, customer requirements are gathered at the beginning of the project and any phase in the development process begins only if the previous stage is complete. In case you choose an agile methodology, the framework you should use is Scrum. 

Scrum vs. Agile: What do you need to know?

We can compare Agile and Scrum to DC and Marvel characters. They all have the same or similar goal and purpose, but a different, unique way of achieving them.

If you want the project to have any chance of success, you need to have a well-developed methodology. Methodologies can be divided into two groups: standard and agile

The agile method of project management today is the prevailing trend in software development and some other human activity areas where classical methods have proven insufficient.

One of the most widely used Agile methodologies is Scrum. It is a subset of Agile and a lightweight process framework for agile development. Scrum significantly increases productivity and helps manage complex software and product development. Scrum processes enable smooth and rapidly-changing requirements and deliver a product that meets business goals.

Instead of detailed planning at the beginning of the project, the agile methodology is open to changing requirements over the project’s life and encourages constant feedback from end-users. The teams participating in the project are organized based on a backlog.

The backlog is a list of features or technical tasks that are necessary and sufficient to complete the project. Backlog priorities are based on business values ​​or customer requirements.

In an agile methodology, the company’s management encourages teamwork, responsibility and communication.

To better understand Agile vs. Scrum, it’s essential to know more about how these methodologies work. First, let’s determine the meaning of Agile and Scrum. 

What is Agile project management?

Agile project management is a project methodology that takes an iterative approach towards completing a project.

The agile approach aims to create early, measurable ROI through defined, iterative delivery of product features.

Because of its iterative nature, continuous involvement with the client is necessary. It is essential to ensure aligned expectations and allow the project manager to adapt to changes throughout the process.

The goal of agile methodology is adaptability in specific periods. For example, you want to develop an app. In the Agile software development process, you can create a new feature (user story) with each current sprint. The sprint is a time-boxed period during which the scrum team works to accomplish a sprint goal and complete specific work. At the end of the sprint, the client can get an insight into one part of the application.

The Agile methodology will help you streamline almost any type of project!

Agile Manifesto

For a better understanding of the Agile approach, it is essential to understand the Agile Manifesto.

The Agile Manifesto is a summary of what the methodology of the Agile project stands for.

Here is a brief summary of the Agile Framework Principles:

  • Principles of customer satisfaction: the customer is a priority. The customer has the right to change the needs and give constant feedback to deliver a quality product that will be satisfying.
  • Principles of quality: the customer’s satisfaction is the measurement of success. The whole development process has to be quality-driven and sustainable.
  • Principles of teamwork: team members should be motivated and actively involved in the process. You should empower and motivate your team and give them the right tools and environment to help them succeed. 
  • Principles of project management: try to keep your iterative Agile development processes simple and evaluate them regularly. Optimize the entire process and remove any unnecessary steps to save time and speed things up.

Agile team roles

  • Product owners – communicate with customers and convey their feedback
  • Project managers give guidance to the project team 
  • Team members – actively work on the project
  • Project stakeholders like salespeople and marketers who do not actively participate in the project.

What is Scrum project management?

Scrum is one of the most popular ways to implement the Agile methodology. Scrum is a specific methodology used for managing a project that provides a process for identifying the work, who and how the work will be done and when it will be completed.

The name “Scrum” comes from the rugby world. Just like rugby players, Scrum agile team members gather as many times as possible (in scrums) to check up on the project and get ready to change the initial plan if necessary. Its characteristics are short phases or “sprints”. Scrum offers a way to connect multiple teams who need to work together and deliver complex solutions.

When speaking of Scrum, the secret is simplicity, even when things are complexed. Scrum requires a team of self-organizing professionals that can quickly solve problems in unpredictable environments. 

Scrum team roles

  • Product Owner – The product owner is responsible for maintaining the product backlog and coordinating the business, customers and team. 
  • Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring that the process runs smoothly and hassle-free. Scrum Master eliminates any hurdles that directly or indirectly affect the company’s productivity.
  • Development Team – The scrum team constitutes many cross-functional and self-organizing people focused on developing and testing the product. The Scrum team is in charge of developing the Scrum project. The ideal team size is from five to nine people. 

There is a way to provide regular communication and transparency in unpredictable environments – through scrum ceremonies. Scrum ceremonies are meetings among scrum teams that ensure everyone (product owner, the scrum master and development team) is in-sync.

Scrum is executed in sprints or short iterations of work. A sprint is usually set between one and four weeks and consists of sprint planning, daily scrums, development work, sprint review and sprint retrospective. In our agency, each sprint is two weeks long, which works well for us.

A sprint employs four different scrum ceremonies to ensure proper execution. These scrum ceremonies are: 

  • Sprint planning – this is the time when the team meets and decides what needs to be completed in the coming sprint. We invest a lot of time and effort planning each sprint to ensure that we spend our time optimally and use it in the best possible way.
  • Daily Scrum – a short meeting lasting 15 minutes that helps the team to make sure they’re all on the same page. We always hold daily meetings and we are consistent in maintaining short syncs as they help us detect if someone has a blocker or similar problem at the earliest possible stage.
  • Sprint review – this is another team meeting for presenting what the team made in the sprint. The Sprint review is product-focused.
  • Sprint retrospective – time for the team to review their work, identify what they did well and what didn’t go as planned, focus on improving the process and make the next sprint better. Retrospectives are process-oriented.

At Async Labs, we are consistent in ceremonies and invest a lot of time in the development process and approach it in a planned way. In our team, everyone always knows what to do and how. 

What is the difference between Scrum and Agile?

Although Scrum and Agile share similar approaches, they are not the same. In the software development process, Agile is a continuous iteration of development and testing. Scrum is an implementation of agile methodology focused on delivering the business value in the shortest time.

Agile and Scrum both rely on an iterative process, collaborative decision making and frequent client interaction. Agile is a project management methodology that utilizes a core set of principles or values. On the other hand, Scrum is a specific Agile methodology used to facilitate a project. It is a process framework used to manage complex development. These are the key differences between Agile and Scrum.

Although Scrum is an Agile approach, Agile does not always mean Scrum. Many different methodologies take an Agile approach to project management.

Scrum fosters a self-organizing, cross-functional team, while leadership plays a vital role in the Agile process.

The agile methodology involves collaborations and face-to-face interactions between various cross-functional teams. Scrum collaboration is achieved in daily stand up meetings. Agile process design and execution should be simple, but Scrum process design and implementation can be innovative and experimental.

Agile vs. Scrum: How to choose the right project approach

When thinking about choosing Agile methodology, the question is which one to use – Scrum or some other beneficial framework. They can help you implement your stakeholder or customer’s approach effectively and efficiently, better collaborate, speed up your development, overall process and management.

To decide if Agile is right for your project, you’ll need to look at the specific requirements and constraints involved. The agile approach will not be useful for projects with rigorous scope and development requirements. On the other hand, the Agile philosophy’s guiding principles are widely used across many different projects.

Choose the Agile methodology if you need: 

  • the flexibility to accommodate quick changes in the project 
  • a collaborative, interactive team dynamic
  • the inputs of different project stakeholders like marketers and senior management

Choose the Scrum framework if you: 

  • deal with a complex project that will need constant change
  • have experienced and self-motivated team members that work well together 

The key to a successful project is about choosing the right methodology but also skillfully executing that methodology. To be successful, project managers also need to have good communication skills, know how to lead a team, apply problem-solving skills and critical thinking, and adapt to the organizational dynamics and complexities.

The methodology depends on the project and the client, but if you can choose agile without thinking!

The Agile methodology is one of the most productive and successful means to implement and deliver values and drive your organization ahead. This framework has embraced several giant software companies worldwide to attain digital transformation. 

Companies are nowadays hiring Agile developers and Scrum professionals rapidly to keep up with the competitive technology market. To summarize, we use the agile scrum method to deliver complex solutions and the highest values. This works great for us, so maybe you should give it a try as well.

Do you think Scrum can help your company become an agile enterprise? Set yourself apart from the competition and scrum your way towards agility with Async Labs