Agile and Scrum are both big names in the world of mobile app development and specific project management, but it can be easy to get confused by the distinctions each offer. There's more than one difference between Agile and Scrum, but they also have a lot in common. When looking between Agile and Scrum methodology, there's no distinct winner. But when looking at Agile methodology vs. Scrum, there are some important distinctions, and those distinctions can determine which methodology is best for the unique demands of your project.
Understanding the Agile methodology requires an understanding of Agile vs waterfall methodology, as they serve as the two most prominent - and most distinctive - project management methodologies in software development. Both methodologies have been around for a while, and while the older waterfall process is seen as the default, more and more project managers and development teams are making the shift over to Agile.
A waterfall methodology is completely linear in its design.
Each step happens sequentially and is a distinct block of work with little crossover between different departments. It's a thorough methodology and one that works fine if you aren't working with tight time constraints, but the often circuitous and trial-and-error driven process of making software means that it isn't always the most efficient method for software development.
By contrast, Agile software development typically happens concurrently. Where the waterfall methodology has you outlining the project requirements and doing all of your design ahead of time, Agile development is predicated on the notion that software is a living organism, and it's prone to change over the course of the development process. As such, many development teams on an Agile project will be working concurrently and shifting their objectives and milestones based on the progress of other teams. That offers notable advantages, but it also brings weaknesses that aren't present in waterfall development.
While there's a debate ongoing about Agile vs Scrum for development, the two aren't that dissimilar. Scrum is actually just a subset of the Agile methodology, and that specialization makes Scrum perfect for some teams, though the requirements for properly executing a Scrum methodology can be a little more demanding.
Scrum's main distinction is in how it removes the need for a project manager from the equation entirely. Instead of having a single person who oversees and directs the flow of the project, Scrum takes a more collectivist approach to development. Developers are largely given the freedom to work on their own objectives for much of the time, and collaboration is handled through daily virtual stand-up sessions. That means that Scrum is particularly well-suited to teams with remote workers.
But properly executing Scrum means having two types of teams. Self-organizing teams are the core of the Scrum methodology. While they may have established goals that they need to achieve, they largely have the freedom to alter that approach depending on the situation on the ground. Self-organizing teams have the liberty to determine their individual methodology for themselves. But any decently-sized Scrum project will also need cross-functional teams that are designed to provide bridges between the different teams. Cross-functional teams need to have a generalized knowledge that allows them to function without needing to rely on the talents of the self-organizing teams. Project management is handled through "sprints" which constitute major stages in development, and each sprint is followed by a testing phase.
While Scrum is a specific methodology within the Agile framework, there are some notable differences between the two.
Agile and Scrum both constitute an exciting shift in how software is developed, and they're becoming increasingly recognized standards in the industry. Just keep in mind that neither will be the right choice for everyone. Having a competent team adept at improvisation will be a key to really succeeding with a Scrum or Agile model. But ultimately, the preference between Agile methodology vs Scrum will come down to the unique demands of your project.
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