Scrum and Agile are often used interchangeably, as if they are the same thing; but they aren’t.

Scrum, (like KP, Kanban, Lean, and Crystal,) is a way of doing Agile. At first glance, you may believe one method begat the other. And you would be correct—kind of.

Because Scrum emerged within the perimeters of agile management, many believe they must be the same. But there is a key distinction between the two terms that provides a greater understanding of this type of project management.

Exploring the differences between Scrum and Agile

Agile management surfaced in response to the limiting capacities of the Waterfall method. Agile methodology allows for flexibility and anticipates changes in each stage of development, a critical limitation of Waterfall we previously discussed in our blog “One Question You Need to Ask…, best suited when your client doesn’t have a clear view of what needs to be created.

To succeed, Agile methodology uses a repetitive and progressive cadence that invites regular feedback from other team members and the customer in adapting the sprint contents to current needs or desires.

The big sell of agile is its focus on breaking down a project into smaller sprints that are consistently open for change to meet the evolving needs of the customer.  This incremental process allows each stage to be evaluated and reviewed without jeopardizing the full scope of the product. The flexibility drives the functionality.

Deconstructing Scrum: Owners, Roles and Processes

Scrum emerged as a framework supporting agile methodology that uses sprint cycles to track progress on specific pieces of the backlog.  While agile is the practice, scrum is the process.

Scrum is not a method; rather, it is an arena that provides structure, discipline and a framework for agile development that is specific to software development.   A scrum team includes:

  • The product owner—An individual who owns the vision of what he or she hopes to achieve with the created product
  • The scrum master—Tasked with keeps the team on track by removing obstacles, tracking the progress of the product backlog, overseeing the burn down chart, and making adjustments where needed.
  • Team members—Providing the heart and soul of product development, these are the writers, testers, and developers who all share the responsibility of bringing the product owner’s vision to fruition through continued analysis, design, implementation, testing, and evaluation.

Setting up for Success

When selecting your project management method and framework, it’s important to keep your team informed and on task at a productive pace to ensure you best serve your customer. Just as you align the process to the project, it’s critical you align the right tools and communication to extend the flexibility of the agile project across the entire team. The key to smarter outcome is smarter workflow.

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