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Agile and Scrum – What’s the Difference?

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Last updated on
27th May, 2022
25th Jun, 2016
Agile and Scrum – What’s the Difference?

Agile & Scrum are two terms that have become very popular in recent years and with good reason. Together, they make project management and development more streamlined, faster, and more cost-effective. But what’s the difference between agile and scrum?

What is Agile?

Agile is a methodology for developing software and managing projects that focuses on small teams, iterative sprints, incremental successes, and empowerment.

While many traditional project management methodologies focus on sequential development, agile promotes flexibility, acceptance of change, and frequent deliverables. Close team and customer contact is a requirement as is open communication, collaboration and an acceptance of change at any moment.

Agile teams are typically self-organised. They’re empowered to achieve specific goals and are tasked with specific deliverables to achieve those goals. Those deliverables are provided through an iterative process called sprints.

At the end of each sprint, the deliverables are evaluated and next steps are identified. This iterative process delivers incremental progress, and it leaves the door open for rapid response to changes throughout the entire development cycle.

Unlike traditional project management and development processes, the agile methodology acknowledges that every requirement cannot be identified in detail at the beginning of a project and that changes will occur throughout the process. This more flexible process has been shown to deliver increased team member and customer satisfaction as well as faster delivery timeframes, higher quality outputs, and reduced costs.

What is Scrum?

Agile is a process for getting things done. It includes many methodologies under its umbrella, including Scrum, which is one of the simplest methodologies. Scrum provides a structure and rules to implement agile processes, define roles, manage meetings, and more.

For example, scrum teams are made up of approximately seven full-time members and sprints last one to two weeks but never more than 30 days.

There are three scrum team roles:
1.Product Owner – manages the product vision and return on investment
2.Scrum Master – manages the scrum process
3.Self-Managing Team – members complete the daily tasks required for each sprint

There are five types of scrum meetings:

1.Sprint Planning Meeting – held at the beginning of each sprint
2.Daily Scrum and Sprint Execution Meeting – held at the same time and place every day for 15 minutes
3.Sprint Review Meeting – held after a sprint execution is completed to provide a working product demonstration to the product owner
4.Sprint Retrospective Meeting – held at the end of a sprint to evaluate the process and identify areas for improvement
5.Backlog Refinement Meeting – held prior to the next Sprint Planning Meeting to prepare the backlog for the next sprint

For software developers, the goal is to have a shippable product ready at the end of every sprint when stakeholders view a demonstration. When a sprint is done, the next one begins. This real-time process enables scrum teams to make decisions based on real-world results rather than speculation.

Are Agile and Scrum Right for You?

Scrum is an appropriate methodology for projects with uncertain requirements or technology issues as well as for projects where change is likely. Its purpose is to make unmanageable work (because of the levels of uncertainty and constant changes) manageable through a set of defined processes that are structured to allow flexibility.

Furthermore, if your project requires knowledge creation and collaboration and your team is committed to developing self-organized teams to get things done faster, then Scrum is a proven approach that is worth trying.


Susan Gunelius

Blog Author

Susan Gunelius is a 20-year marketing veteran and President & CEO of KeySplash Creative. She also owns an award-winning blog, Women on Business.