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A Comparison of Agile Vs Scrum

agile vs scrum

Some people in IT think that agile Vs scrum is the same thing, and vice-versa. Scrum indeed was one of the first applications of lean software development approaches that used the 12 principles, and that for a long time, scrum was the most widespread agile approach worldwide. When comparing scrum vs agile, it is important to remember that scrum fully embraces the agile principles. 

What is scrum?

Scrum is an incremental, iterative approach for lean software development. A key agile vs scrum consideration is that unlike any other lean methodology, scrum organizes teams into small groups of four to ten people. These small teams are in charge of how they work. The term ‘scrum’ as applied in this lean methodology is named after a formation used in Rugby’s game, where a number of people gather together in a specific activity. These teams take work that has already been broken down into a product backlog.  They then code, test, and deliver these in short fixed time-boxed release cycles, known as sprints. Each sprint is between two and four weeks long. This is another key difference between generic agile vs scrum. Agile does not specify the use of fixed time boxes, whereas scrum vs agile does.

What is the difference between agile and waterfall?

This use of short, regular iterations to deliver products is a key feature that differentiates agile vs waterfall. The concept behind this lean methodology, which is common to agile vs scrum, is that users frequently change their minds about what they want. Agile vs waterfall allows the flexibility to cope with these changes at a minimized cost. Two other key features shared between agile vs scrum are that neither plans too far in advance, and both continually release more working software.

Agile vs Scrum: Roles

Considering roles in agile vs scrum, the generic approach does not define or mandate any roles, whereas scrum does. The Scrum Team are the multi-skilled team that takes the requirements, decide on the tasks, run a daily scrum meeting to check progress and jointly tackle issues, write and test code, and agree on what can be shipped at the end of each sprint.

A Scrum Master is there to protect the team from outside interference, satisfying the requirement for self-determination. The scrum master also promotes and supports scrum and the 12 principles. Interestingly, as agile culture is against management hierarchies, the scrum master is not the boss. They are a servant-leader for the scrum team. The scrum master helps those outside the scrum team to understand which of their interactions with the team are helpful and which aren’t.

In this lean methodology, a Scrum Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work of the scrum team. How this is done may vary widely across organizations, scrum teams, and individuals, and different interpretations of this lean software development approach. In agile vs scrum, the scrum product owner is the sole person responsible for managing the product backlog. In other variants of lean software development, the team is responsible for this. In agile vs waterfall, a team completely separate from the development team decides on what requirements will be worked on.

What is lean?

When considering agile vs scrum, it can be useful to compare agile vs lean. Lean is a conceptual model that was first developed for use in manufacturing industries. Lean software development is based on a culture with principles and values. These lean principles and values are very much in line with the principles that set out what agile is. Lean offers additional guidance on techniques and practices that can be applied. Lean focuses on adding value through the explicit concept that every activity done in the delivery of a product must add value to it. This is a key difference between agile vs lean; only lean specifies the techniques on how to achieve this.

Lean software development techniques are particularly good at best eliminating or at least reducing waste, known as ‘Muda.’ Waste is defined as anything that does not add value to the product. Muda includes queues within processes, partially completed products that are lying around without any work being done to change them, and any quality inspections. When lean is applied to manufacturing processes, much of this waste is easy to find, as it can be physically seen. For example, high amounts of stock of finished goods or components, damaged products, and queues in front of work stations.

Waste can be more difficult to locate in software development, but it is worth the effort. All of the teachings from lean are valuable to apply to any implementation of agile, irrespective of which particular approach is adopted, be it agile vs scrum or any other similar variant of lean software development.

Agile vs Scrum: Conclusion

Understanding the terminology is very important when discussing different methodologies and approaches. While practitioners are generally very clear about the different meanings, the customers, stakeholders, and passers-by can frequently use the wrong terms, causing confusion. Providing clarity for the terminology, especially agile vs scrum, is a critical activity for any organization that has embraced the methodologies. Developing and communicating a clear and concise definition is important to the success of any organization.

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