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Many people use Agile and Scrum interchangably. But Agile and Scrum are not the same thing – learn more below.

Agile overview

Agile is a set of values and principles for software development that aims to deliver value to the customer through early and continuous delivery of working software. It focuses on incremental delivery, team collaboration, continual planning and learning. The term ‘Agile’ came about in 2001 in the Agile Manifesto. Agile emphasizes adaptability and flexibility, as well as collaboration between self-organizing and cross-functional teams. Agile methods are iterative and incremental, meaning that they involve delivering small, usable increments of the product on a regular basis, and continuously refining and improving the product based on customer feedback.

Scrum overview

Scrum is a specific agile framework for managing and completing complex projects. It provides a simple, lightweight set of rules and practices that help teams work together more effectively. Scrum is based on the principles of transparency, inspection, and adaptation. In Scrum, work is divided into short, iterative cycles called “sprints,” and the team meets regularly to review progress and plan the next steps.

According to the 14th State of Agile Report, Scrum is the most popular Agile framework used to develop complex products and systems. The term Scrum comes from the game of rugby. Just as in a rugby team, Scrum teams work together as one. They learn through experiences, they self-organise, reflect on their successes and losses to continually improve. Scrum significantly increases productivity and reduces time to market compared to traditional ‘waterfall’ processes.

While agile and Scrum are often used together, it’s important to note that Scrum is just one of many agile methods. Other agile methods include Lean, Extreme Programming (XP), and Crystal. Each method has its own specific set of practices and techniques, but they all adhere to the core principles of agile.

Scrum is a process framework that implements agile principles. Scrum is one of the most popular Agile frameworks used in project management. It is divided into 3 main components of Roles, Artifacts and Time Boxes.

Agile Manifesto

The Agile Manifesto is a set of guiding values and principles for agile software development. It was developed in 2001 by a group of software developers who were looking for a better way to build software. The Agile Manifesto consists of four values and 12 principles.

The four values of the Agile Manifesto are:

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  4. Responding to change over following a plan

How Scrum implements the four values

“Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.”

Agile prioritises customer satisfaction through early and continuous delivery of valuable product. Scrum implements this by taking regular, structured incremental feedback from end users. This is usually done by providing a demonstration of functionality after each sprint. This allows the feedback to be incorporated into the next Sprint.

“Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.”

Agile encourages flexibility and welcomes requirement change during product development. One of the greatest advantages of Scrum is that it’s very flexible and adapts to changes very quickly, this is why Scrum is ideally used where requirements require rapid change.

“The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.”

Agile teams collaborate through face-to-face interactions on a regular basis.

In scrum, communication is structured on a daily or sprint basis through daily scrums/stand-ups and sprint reviews. During the sprint and these meetings, fixed roles are assigned to scrum master, product owner and team members.

“Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.”

In Scrum the next sprint is planned with the scrum team and with appropriate feedback from stakeholders after the team has completed the current sprint activities. Everybody has to agree on the goals of the sprint. Thus, aligning the expectations of the whole team. 

“At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly.”

Scrum implements the agile philosophy of regular team reflection and adjustment of their work by having sprint retrospectives. During the sprint retrospective, the team discuss what went well, any impediments encountered and how they will commit to improve in the next sprint.

“Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.”

Agile execution is simple and promotes trying new and creative and ideas. In Scrum, maximum focus is applied on the sprint goals for a limited amount of time. Thus, leading to concise and smart outcomes. Whilst Scrum is structured, it’s execution can be tailored to the needs of any organization.

“Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.”

The Priority is to satisfy the customer by continuously delivering valuable product in Agile. During Scrum delivery, product is built to obtain client feedback after each sprint. A sprint is recommended to last two weeks; however, some teams may prefer a shorter sprint of a week or a longer sprint lasting four weeks. A sprint consists of a set of events; sprint planning at the beginning of a sprint, daily stand-up conducted throughout the sprint, sprint review and sprint retrospective held at the end of each sprint.

Hopefully its clearer now that Agile is a philosophy and Scrum is one of many approaches to implement that philosophy.

Jay is co-founder of Fractal Systems Consulting, an agile consultancy run by a group of Professional Scrum Trainers, change agents and agile delivery coaches who have deep experience and know-how in creating behavioural change, come and find us at Fractal Systems

Additionally, if you’re interested in learning in a fun application rich environment that focuses on real world applied approaches, come along to one our training sessions – Scrum Training Courses.