Agile Or Scrum - Which One To Choose And Why?


In current times, there are multiple project management frameworks available, such as Agile, Scrum, Waterfall, Kanban, etc. So, when a new project has been started, we need to take hundreds of decisions regarding that project. Among these decisions, one of the first decisions regards which project management methodology we need to follow or adapt. For some, the project management process always follows a more rigid and structural methodology (like Scrum). Other project management processes like Kanban are much easier to introduce and can be implemented on the top of the existing processes. These processes have some pros and cons, so we need to know which one to choose? In this article, we will discuss the compassion between Agile and Scrum. We will talk about the advantages, disadvantages and when we should use each one process.
Agile vs Scrum 

What is Agile?

The agile software development process is mainly based on an incremental, iterative or repetitive approach. Instead of in-depth or complete planning at the beginning of the project, Agile methodologies are very much open to changing the requirements over time to time and encourages and expect constant feedback from the end-users. Cross-functional or operational teams work on iteration basis for a product over some time and all work is normally organized as a backlog item. Each backlog times need to be prioritized based on business or customer value. The ultimate goal of each iteration is to produce a working product or result. In this methodology, the leadership can be encouraged with the help of teamwork, accountability, and communication between the different team members. The business owner or stakeholders include developers that must be work together to prepare the product with customer needs and company goals.
Agile methodology supports or refers to any process which aligns with the main concepts of the Agile Manifesto. In February 2001, 17 different software developers met in Utah to discuss the lightweight development methods. After that discussion, they published the Manifesto for Agile Development. The Agile Manifesto is a dramatic contrast related to the traditional text and it is also proper guidance related to the Project Management standards.

Advantages of Agile Methodology

Due to the rigid and linear process mechanism of the Waterfall methodology, Agile methodology comes into the picture to evolved to give provision related to different lightweight software approaches in the 1990s. The main focus of the Agile Methodology is flexibility, continuous improvement, and delivery speed. Some of the topmost advantages of the Agile methodologies are,
  1. Stakeholders Engagement
    In the Agile process, stakeholders and team management have multiple opportunities to involve in the product development process for each iteration. In this way, a high level of collaboration can be achieved and the development team can clearly understand the client’s requirement and vision.

  2. Allow Changes
    In the Agile, we can accommodate and accept any type of changes at any time during the project due to the shorter planning cycles. In this way, there is always an opportunity to redefine and reprioritize the backlog or requirement for the coming iterations. So, in this way, New or changed backlog items can be taken care of by the development team and implementation of these changes in the project is just a matter of a few weeks.

  3. Transparent
    In the Agile approach, clients or stakeholders can involve in every step like prioritization of backlogs, delivery review sessions, etc. of the process for each iteration. So in this way, stakeholders can understand what progress is going on. This transparency is very much helpful to establish trust between the stakeholders and the development team.

  4. Quality
    Since in the Agile Process, the entire project has been break-down into manageable and deliverable units, the development team can be the focus on each small unit to produce high-quality development. So in every iteration, regular build, testing, and stakeholder reviews help the project team improve the quality of the product.

  5. Predictable Delivery
    In Agile, normally every iteration duration must be maintained within 1 to 4 weeks. So, in this way, new features are delivered very quickly and frequently with a high level of predictability.

  6. Predictable Cost and Schedule
    Since every iteration is fixed duration, the cost related to the projects is always predictable. So, in this way stakeholder can also understand the cost related to the new features released during the specified timebox. So, finally, these processes help the stakeholders to make a decision related to the priority of the backlog item related to a future iteration.

Disadvantages of the Agile Methodology

As per the above section, flexibility in the Agile process is a positive node. But, they also have some drawbacks. Some of the disadvantages of Agile are:
  1. Sometimes, it can be hard to mention a particular delivery date of any features. Because due to the time-box delivery process, reprioritizing the task can reschedule the delivery date of the particular features.
  2. Agile teams are normally small teams, so every team member needs to be highly skilled in different areas. Also, team member s need to be clearly understood and feel comfortable within the Agile Methodology.
  3. The success point of the Agile process mainly depends on the development team member. Since active involvement and collaboration are required throughout the Agile process which means it requires more time compared to the traditional approach.
  4. As per the Agile Manifesto, it recommends comprehensive documentation during the development process. But maybe some developers may feel documentation is less important. Since project success does not depend on comprehensive documentation. So, the Agile teams need to maintain the right balance between documentation and discussion.

What is Scrum?

Scrum is a subset of Agile methodology and one of the most popular process frameworks for implementing the Agile methodology in any process management system. Scrum is an iterative software development model used to manage or organize complex software and product development. In Scrum, we need to maintain the fixed-length iterations which are called sprints lasting’s 1 to 2 weeks long. At the end of each sprint, stakeholders and team members need to meet to plan the next steps for the next sprint.
The Scrum process always follows a set of roles, responsibilities, and meeting which never change. In general, Scrums maintains the four main pillars to provide the structure for each sprint: sprint planning, daily stand-up, sprint demo, and sprint retrospective. During each sprint, the team will use the visual artifacts like task board or burndown chart or sprint progress to show the progress and receive incremental feedback.
In 1993, Jeff Sutherland evolved the Scrum process. Jeff Sutherland takes the reference related to the Scrum from the analogy study by Takeuchi and Nonaka published in the Harvard Business Review. In this study, Takeuchi and Nonaka mainly compare high-performing, cross-functional teams to the Scrum formation used by Rugby teams. The main content for this is manufacturing. But Sutherland, along with John Scumniotales and Jeff Mckenna, adapted this model for the Software development projects also.

Benefits of Scrum

Through the sprint, the process allows provide us a good enough development result in a saleable product even while the development team works in a full swing. This incremental delivery system always provides shortens the time to the stakeholders and it may result in higher revenue because each completed backlog represents a new release of the products. So basically scrum is a highly prescribed framework with specific roles and ceremonies. In this process, there are lots of things which need to learn, but also these rules have a lot of advantages. The most common benefits of Scrums are,
  1. The scrum process provides much more transparency and project development status visibility. In daily stand-up meetings, the entire team knows who is doing what and eliminates many misunderstandings and confusion. Issues are identified in advance, so that team can have time to resolve those issues.
  2. The scrum process always increased team accountability. Since in Scrum process, there is no concept of Project Manager who normally instructed teams what to do. So, here the team needs to decide what needs to done collectively in every sprint planning meeting. In this way, the team needs to work together and help each other.
  3. Since normally the duration of every iterations or sprint will be 1 to 2 weeks in the Scrum process. So, due to the short duration of sprint and regular feedback from the stakeholders or testing team related to the sprint release, it is very easy to adjust new changes in the coming sprint.
  4. The scrum process ensures the effective use of time and money.
  5. Scrum, being an agile methodology, always accepts feedback from customers and stakeholders.
  6. The contribution of every individual team member is visible during the daily scrum meetings.

Disadvantages of Scrum

Just like the Agile process, despite the above benefits, the Scrums process has some drawbacks. The scrum process always required a high level of experience and commitment from every team member. Some of the disadvantages of the Scrum are:
  1. Some Scrum projects can be experienced scope creep due to the lack of specific end dates. Since there is no completion date, stakeholders can be pressurized to delivering some additional functionality in the already planned sprint.
  2. In this process, every team member needs to properly familiar with the Scrum principles so that the ultimate goal can be achieved. Also, due to no specific roles in the team members, every team member must be with versatile technical experience.
  3. In the Scrum process, Scrum master is not a project manager. The scrum master just needs to act as a facilitator. Scrum master does not have any right to instruct team member what need to do. Scrum master needs to trust his or her team members. If Scrum master tries to control the team, then the project will fail.
  4. In the Scrum Process, project costing and time duration can’t be accurate if tasks are not well defined. If a team does not have a clear idea about the tasks, then the wrong features can be delivered.

Comparison between Agile and Scrum

 Agile Scrum
Agile is a development methodology based on an iterative or incremental approach Scrum is one of the best implementations of the Agile Methodology. Incremental builds are delivered to the stakeholders after every iteration or sprint (1to 2 weeks interval)
 In the Agile Process, leadership plays an important role.  The scrum process supports self-organizing, cross-functional teams.
 Agile is much more rigid, so there is not much space for frequent changes.  Due to the flexibility of the Scrum process, it quickly response and adopt the changes
 Design and execution must be kept simple  Design and execution must be innovative and experimental.
 In the Agile method, the priority of the backlog items always satisfies the customer requirement to provide the continuous delivery of the software.  Empirical Process Control is the key concept of the Scrum process

When to choose Agile or Scrum

To make the decision of when we need to use Agile or Scrum is a little confusing, since scrum is one of the most popular framework implementations within the Agile process. So, both of them have many similarities. So, the first decision needs to take either we can use Agile in general or Not. If the answer is yes, then we need to decide which framework we need to use i.e. Agile or Scrum (here we consider Scrum is as a framework).
So, the normal recommendation for Agile process are:
  • When the concept of the final product is not clearly defined
  • Changes need to be implemented during the entire process
  • The team members are adaptable and can think independently.
  • We need to optimize for rapid deployment.
And the normal recommendation for the Scrum process are:
  • The project requirement will change and evolve
  • Continuous feedback from the stakeholders is required
  • The project team wants autonomy.
  • We need to deliver the product regularly.
Scrum's process works perfectly for those projects in which there are a lot of unknown issues or that yet to evolve. The scrum process deals with these changes very efficiently. So, in this way, we can easily accommodate the new information or features within the process.

When are we  Required to Adopt a Hybrid Process?

Sometimes, we faced a scenario where the pure Scrum approach does not fir for the project. In those cases, we can try a hybrid model. There are many methodologies which based on the principles of Agile or Scrum and we can adopt those framework to scale the project more effectively.
As an example, Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) builds on the practices of Agile, Scrum, and Lean to provide a solid foundation from which to scale. DAD was developed to provide a more cohesive approach to Agile, taking strategies from Scrum, Kanban, Extreme Programming, and others. Rather than taking the time to learn one of these existing frameworks and cobble them together as needed, DAD already combines all relevant techniques.
Other hybrid methods include Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS), which extends Scrum with scaling rules and guidelines, and Scaled Agile Framework (SaFE), based on underlying Lean and Agile principles