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Agile vs Scrum: What are the Major Differences?

21st May, 2024
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    Agile vs Scrum: What are the Major Differences?

    Traditional project management is a universal practice that includes a set of developed techniques used for planning, estimating, and controlling activities. Traditional project management is mainly used on projects where activities are completed in a sequence and there are rarely any changes. It is going to be a slow development if your client isn’t clear about the requirements. There isn’t much space for the customer’s opinion in every development process. There isn’t much space for new ideas to employ in Traditional Methodology. The sequential method doesn’t have room for continuous evolution. Sometimes the stakeholders are unsure about their requirements at the start, and the ECT cannot commence until all the requirements are specified.  

    To overcome these drawbacks of traditional project management, Agile Methodologies were introduced which focus on the feedback of their clients and add new features through iterative development. Before jumping into the major differences between agile and scrum, let's roughly understand what each of them means.

    Agile vs Scrum: Head-to-head Comparision





    Agile project management is a project philosophy or mindset that takes an iterative approach toward the accomplishment of a task or a project. 

    Scrum project management is one of the most popular Agile Framework used by project managers.  

    Whereas Agile is an umbrella term, Scrum is a specific framework of Agile to help how one manages a project end to end. 


    Customer satisfaction, welcoming changing requirements, delivering working software frequently, and promoting sustainable development.   

    Control over the empirical process, Self-organization, as the Scrum process relies on many individuals, self-organization is essential, Collaboration, Value-based prioritization, Time-boxing, in Scrum, tasks are completed in “sprints,” with specific lengths of time assigned, iterative development.   


    Agile is an iterative approach to software development methodology.   

    Scrum is a framework of agile methodology. In which incremental builds are delivered to the end users every two to three weeks.   


    Prioritization in agile is the act of deciding in what order the agile team will work on the requirements of a project. 

    Scrum focuses on Value-based Prioritization as one of the core principles that drive its structure 



    Kanban is most popular alternative to Scrum and others are Extreme programming and Crystal. 

    Client satisfaction 

    The priority of agile development is always to satisfy the customer by providing continuous delivery of valuable software.   

    Scrum works on the delivery of working software by end of the sprint.  

    Modes of Collaboration 

    Collaboration between the members of various cross-functional teams. 

    Daily sprint meetings, retrospectives and Sprint planning.  


    The company ‘SKY’, the banking giant JP Morgan, etc 

    Netherlands, BBC’s, Adobe 

    Agile vs Scrum: Detailed Comparision

    1. Definition 

    What is Agile?  

    In simple words, Agile project management is a project philosophy or mindset that takes an iterative approach toward the accomplishment of a task or a project.  

    The Project Management Institute (PMI) says the goal of the Agile approach is to create early, measurable ROI through defined, iterative delivery of product features meaning delivering a simple version of a project to the client, taking their feedback, and making the improvements per that feedback.  

    What is Scrum?  

    Let's take about what is Scrum Project Management.  

    Scrum project management is one of the most popular frameworks under Agile used by project managers. Whereas Agile is a mindset, Scrum is a framework from start to end for managing a project. It provides a process for cross functional team to deliver a working software in defined time frame.  

    2. Principles 

    Customer satisfaction, welcoming changing requirements, even late in development for the customer’s competitive advantage, delivering working software frequently, with a preference to the shorter timescale, business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project, build projects around motivated individuals, give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done, working software is the primary measure of progress, agile processes promote sustainable development.  

    Scrum believes in self-organizing team who collaborates with stakeholders on the project progress and blockers. It’s an open framework designed for team and project to fit in the purpose of delivering the better software.  

    3. Prioritizes 

    Prioritization in literary terms means the decision to arrange things in order of their importance. Prioritization in agile is deciding in what order the agile team will work on the requirements of a project. The project scope is defined by the stakeholders and the product owner is responsible to prioritize and de-prioritize the items from the iteration. 

    Further prioritization process helps the agile team to deliver the MVP (minimum viable product) necessary to create customer value.  

    Scrum focuses on Value-based Prioritization as one of the core principles that drive the structure and functionality of the entire Scrum framework. Its main motive is to deliver a good version of the final product to the customer on an early and continuous basis. While prioritizing, the following three factors are considered value, risk or uncertainty, and dependencies in the respectable order.  

    4. Modes of Collaboration 

    Ultimately, team collaboration is the foundation of successful agile working. Giving teams clear responsibilities and providing space for them to organize and manage themselves allows more freedom to meet goals and overcome challenges, Agile values rely on people, so team members need to understand how to work using agile methods and believe in the benefits. Each agile iteration focuses on getting something done rather than getting stuck in a maze of upfront planning,  

    Collaboration in Scrum refers to the Scrum Core Team working together and interfacing with the stakeholders to create and validate the deliverables of the project to meet the goals outlined in the Project Vision. Co-operation occurs when the work consists of the sum of the work efforts of various people on a team. The scrum team also conduct a retrospective ceremony to eliminate waste and try new methods or approaches to improve the process.   

    5. Examples 

    The company ‘SKY’, which has launched products to combat the likes of Apple’s TV Box, has placed Agile methodologies and open source at the center of its software development approach. In one of the news articles published by JP Morgan mentions their approach to adopting and working with Agile to stay ahead of the competition.  

    The Netherlands has successfully executed Scrum after a traditionally managed project failed to deliver its goals. The Head of Development of the BBC’s New Media Division discusses how they effectively use scrum in their team management, Adobe explains how they used Scrum to successfully coordinate the actions of a distributed Scrum Team  

    6. Alternatives 

    An alternative to Agile is Waterfall, which is a more traditional project management style.  Kanban is one of the widely used frameworks when Scrum is not in place. Extreme programming and Crystal are also good alternatives to scrum. A few companies experiment with mixing a couple of frameworks together to work better for their project. For example, ScrumBan, it’s is mixture of Scrum and Kanban.  

    7. Methodology 

    On the whole, it is easy to see why Agile and Scrum can often be confused with each other, as they both rely on an iterative process, frequent feedback from clients, and collaborative decision-making. The key difference between Agile and Scrum is that Agile is a project management philosophy that works on a set of principles.  

    Scrum is broken down into shorter cycles which is called sprints and smaller deliverables to get client feedback for betterment. Agile involves members from various cross-functional teams working in cooperation, while a Scrum way of working, the project team has specific roles and job function to perform. 

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    Agile vs Scrum: How are They Similar?

    Agile is a broader term for delivering working software. Agile possess strong values and principles that we carefully written by analyzing the various organizations' ways of working and documented as an Agile Manifesto. Various frameworks adopted the Agile values and principles and developed a better way of delivering software. One of them that we are talking about is Scrum.  

    Agile and Scrum methodologies are created to convey the idea of demolishing traditional project management with collaborative working. That gives an accurate consumer understanding of the software development rotation. 

    The Scrum framework shares the similar values and principles. The key similarities are both works on the iterative approach of delivery and focuses on collaboration and better communication. Scrum has identical feature of adapting to change that makes it more appreciable among the community. 

    Agile vs Scrum: Which one to Choose?

    The short and sweet answer – you can’t choose. If you choose scrum's way of delivery, you can’t take out the soul of Agile from Scrum because Agile fuels the values and principles to Scrum to deliver better software. 

    Having said that another question pops into the mind, Scrum vs other Agile frameworks? 

    That’s a better comparison.   

    Here are the few benefits of Scrum which other frameworks don’t provide: 

    • The project is divided into sprints, and the entire lifecycle of the project, also called MVP, lasts for up to 4 weeks which is very easy to manage and deliver.   
    • The team members provide daily updates of their task and raise the blocker if they have any. It’s 15 mins time-boxed ceremony to get quick update on the project.  
    • The product owner prioritizes the upcoming work a sprint before to get the team ready with the new set of priority to deliver.


    Scrum can be a great introduction to the world of agile. It’s a lightweight framework that has some rules. Even so, people can spend their careers trying to master scrum. Any person could devote their career to learning about scrum and agile, their differences, and mastering these concepts, making their daunting tasks easy to start. 

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. What's the relationship between Scrum and Agile? 

    The key difference between Agile and Scrum is that while Agile is a project management framework that follows values and principles, Scrum is one of the various Agile methodologies used to facilitate a project.  

    2. Is Scrum Agile? 

    People often think scrum and agile are the same because scrum is centered around continuous improvement, which is a core principle of agile. However, scrum is a framework for getting work done, whereas agile is a mindset.  

    3. What came first, Agile or scrum? 

    The first paper on Scrum appeared in the Harvard Business Review in January 1986 and was put into use in 1993. Other agile processes started popping up shortly after this, but the term “agile” was first applied to Scrum and similar processes in early 2001. There was a time when agile didn’t have a name. At first, it was made from a desire to move away from traditional project management approaches that could take years to deliver a product in its entirety. In February 2001, people from different software development communities gathered to discuss how software development should evolve according to the changing needs. That summit was not another framework but a name for a collection of values and principles called Agile. Later even Scrum was classified as one of the Agile methodologies. But Scrum came 8 years before Agile. 


    Lindy Quick


    Lindy Quick, SPCT, is an experienced Transformation Architect with expertise in multiple agile frameworks including SAFe, Scrum, and Kanban. She is proficient in leading agile transformations across diverse industries including manufacturing, defense, insurance/financial, and federal government. She is a strong communicator, manager, leader, and problem solver, seeking a challenging role in an organization that values effective and efficient value delivery.

    Lindy, is the SAFe Practice Lead where she is responsible for fostering Lean-Agile principles and mindset in organizations and individuals through coaching, training, leadership development, and successful execution of transformations. Over her career, she has facilitated adoption of innovative ways of thinking and working within the context of organizational transformation, established a Lean-Agile Center of Excellence and Guiding Coalition to ensure transformation success, and provided recovery support for underperforming ARTs, ensuring the delivery of high-quality and predictable systems.

    She has a Bachelor of Science degrees in Computer Science and German from Doane University, Crete, NE, and a Master of Business Administration degree from Baker University, Overland Park, KS. She holds several relevant certifications, including SAFe 6.0 Program Consultant Trainer, Certified SAFe 6 Program Consultant, Atlassian Managing Jira Projects for Data Center and Cloud, ISTQB Certified Tester, ICAgile Certified Professional in Agile Test Automation and Agile Testing, and Certified Scrum Master.

    Lindy is also an active member of the professional community, serving as the Women in Agile Mid-Atlantic Chapter Co-Chair and a speaker at various events including the IT Revolution DevOps European Summit, Scrum Alliance Summit, and SAFe Gov’t Day.

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