Agile vs Scrum
Any discussion aimed at improving project management will eventually include an examination of the various methodologies that are used in delivering values rapidly. While there could be various proposals on how to deliver results fast, discussions eventually lead to the merits of agile vs. scrum methodologies.
Agile software development is development methodologies that are centered on the idea of iterative development. The requirements and solutions are the product of collaboration between self-organizing cross-functional teams. Agile development enables the team to deliver value a lot faster, with better quality and predictability, and greater ability to respond to change.
Agile processes or methods promote a disciplined concept of the project management process that allows frequent inspection and adaptation, a philosophy of leadership that encourages self-organization, teamwork, and accountability. It also encourages a set of the best practices in engineering to allow for rapid delivery of the best quality software. It adheres to a business approach that aligns customer needs, company goals, and development.
Agile development refers to a development process that conforms with the concept of the Agile Manifesto, which was developed by a group of fourteen leading figures in the software industry, which is reflective of their experience of the approaches that do and do not work for software development.
Agile development is not only applicable to software development. It is also applicable to hardware development, with exceptional results.
Scrum is a subset of Agile. It is a lightweight process for agile development and it happens that it is the most widely-used process framework. A process framework refers to the particular set of practices to be followed for a process to be consistent with the framework. The scrum process involves the use of development cycles known as Sprints. The term “lightweight” refers to the overhead process that is kept as small as possible, the purpose of which is to maximize the amount of productive time available for delivering results.
A scrum process differs from other agile processes because of its specific practices and concepts, which are divided into three categories: Roles, Artifacts, and Time Boxes. Scrum is often used in the management of complex software and product development by employing iterative and incremental practices. Scrum can significantly improve productivity and reduce time to benefits to the classic waterfall processes, which in software development refer to the flexible and less iterative approaches involving one-directional flow, such as the downward waterfall, using the phases of conception, initiation, analysis, design, construction, testing, deployment, and maintenance.
Scrum processes allow organizations to smoothly adjust to fast-changing requirements and produce a product that meets the evolving goals of the business. An agile scrum process is beneficial to an organization by helping it to increase the quality of deliverable, adjust to changes, provide better estimates without having to spend much time creating them and be more in control of the state and schedule of a project.
Agile vs. Scrum: What is Agile? What is Scrum?
What is Agile Methodology?
An agile methodology is an approach to software development that is people-focused and results-focused as it respects the rapidly changing world. The methodology is based on adaptive planning, self-organization, and short delivery times. The methodology is fast, flexible, and aiming for continuous improvements in quality through the use of tools such as Scrum and eXtreme Programming.
Agile works by accepting first the shortcomings of the old waterfall method of software development. The classic process of “plan, design, build, test, deliver,” works best for car manufacturing or building construction but not for the creation of software systems. Agile works in a business environment with swiftly-changing hardware demand, and competition variables by walking the fine line between having too much process and not having enough.
The Agile methodology does not take the risk of spending long periods on a process that may ultimately fail because of small mistakes during an early phase. The methodology relies instead on trusting teams and employees to work directly with customers to understand their goals and to provide solutions in a fast and incremental manner.
- Smaller but faster - Traditional software development methods relied on working in phases, such as outlining the requirements, planning, design, building, testing, and delivery. Agile works differently by looking to deploy the first increment in a couple of weeks and the entire piece of software in a few months.
- Communication - Agile teams work together daily at every phase of the project by conducting face-to-face meetings. The collaboration and constant communication ensure that the process remains on track even when there are changes in the conditions.
- Feedback - Common project methodologies require the evaluation of success by the delivery phase. In agile methodology, success and speed of the development process are tracked regularly. Project speed is measured after the delivery of each increment.
- Trust - Agile teams and employees organize themselves. Instead of following a manifesto of rules from the management that aims to produce the intended result, team members understand the goals and draw their path to reach the same aim.
- Adjust - Participants in project development continue the process of adjusting and fine-tuning the process following the Keep It Simple principle.
The most popular examples of the agile methodology include Scrum, eXtreme Programming, Dynamic Systems Development Method, Feature Driven Development, and Crystal and Lean Development.
The following are some of the benefits of Agile Methodology:
- Speed - It is one of the main benefits of Agile Methodology. A faster software development life cycle translates to less time between paying and getting paid, which means better profitability for the business.
- Customer satisfaction - Agile customers need not wait for months or years to get exactly what they want. They get, instead, iterations of something they want, in a very fast manner. The system is capable of adjusting quickly to make refinements aimed at successful customer solution. The system continuously adapts to the changes in the overall environment.
- Values employees - Employees who contribute valued ideas contribute are more productive than employees who merely followed a set of rules. The agile methodology gives employees the goal, then trust them to reach the same.
- Eliminates rework - Involving customers in every aspect of the development processes allow them to be in-tune at every step, resulting in less backtracking.
Agile is a development methodology that has gained widespread support among development teams that need to ship apps efficiently. Agile development requires Agile support, which requires development leaders to arm their teams with the resources and tools necessary to succeed.
What is Scrum?
Scrum is a framework that helps teams work together for the common goal. Scrum functions like the scrum in a rugby team, from where it gets the name. it encourages the team to draw from their experiences, organize themselves while working on a problem, and reflect on their successes and losses to continue improving.
While Scrum was originally used by software development teams, the principles and lessons may be applied to all kinds of teamwork, the reason that makes Scrum very popular. While often described as an agile project management network, Scrum describes a set of meetings, roles, and tools that work together to help teams structure and manage their work.
People view Scrum and agile the same, but Scrum is a core principle of agile that is centered around continuous improvement. Scrum is a framework for getting work done, whereas agile is a mindset. Agile requires the whole team to change the manner they think about how to deliver value to the customers. But a framework like Scrum can help teams to start thinking that way and to practice agile principles into everyday work and communication.
The scrum framework is based on continuous learning and adjustment to the continuously fluctuating factors. Scrum acknowledges that the team does not know everything at the beginning of a project and will evolve through the accumulated experience. It is structured to help teams adapt naturally to ever-changing conditions and user requirements, with built-in re-prioritization as needed by the process and short release cycles to allow a team to constantly learn and improve.
Scrum is structured but not entirely rigid, with execution tailored to the needs of any organization. There are plenty of theories on how scrum teams must work to achieve success, but transparency, clear communication, and dedication to continuous improvement will remain at the center of the framework.
There are three Scrum artifacts or things that are used as a tool to solve a problem. The three artifacts are:
It is the master list of work that needs to be accomplished, maintained by the product owner or manager. It is a dynamic list of requirements, features, fixes, and enhancements that serve as the input for the sprint backlog. It is simply the team’s “To Do” list. The list has to be revisited constantly, re-prioritized, and maintained by the product owner.
It refers to the list of items, user stories, or bug fixes chosen by the development team for implementation in the current sprint cycle. The list may be flexible and may evolve during a sprint, without compromising the fundamental sprint goal.
This is the goal of the sprint, the usable end-product from a sprint.
There are many variations, including artifacts, that a development team can choose to define, making it important that it remains open to evolving how to maintain them, including artifacts.
Scrum ceremonies refer to the set of sequential events, ceremonies, or meeting that the team must perform regularly.The following are the key ceremonies a scrum team may partake in:
- Organize the backlog - Also known as the backlog grooming, this one is the responsibility of the product owner who has to maintain a list from feedback from users and the development team.
- Sprint planning - The work to be performed at this point should be planned by the entire development team.
- Sprint - It is the actual period when the scrum team works to finish an increment.
- Daily scrum or stand up - This is a daily short meeting conducted at the same time and place to keep it simple.
- Sprint review - The team gets together for an informal session to view the demo at the end of the sprint.
- Sprint retrospective - The team documents and discuss what worked and what did not work in a sprint.
Benefits of Scrum
Scrum’s rules and processes are followed during the implementation of a project. Using the scrum approach provides many benefits, including:
Different People and Roles of Scrum
The scrum framework has three defined roles:
- Scrum product owner
- The scrum team
- The scrum master
Each of the defined roles has a set of responsibilities. A project can be completed successfully only when the three fulfill their defined responsibilities, work together, and interact closely.
Within the Scrum framework, the finished work delivered to the customer is accomplished by a dedicated scrum team, which is a group of individuals who work together in delivering the requested product increments.
The members of the scrum team must follow a common goal, adhere to the same rules and norms, and show respect to each other to work effectively and achieve the objective.
Expectations are tempered when setting up a new scrum team because no new team can deliver the highest level of performance right from the start. The team has to go through several phases after its formation: forming, storming, norming, and performing.
The scrum team can reach the performing phase based on how it works together and how dedicated they are. It normally takes about three sprints before a new scrum team reaches maturity to deliver results predictably.
The following are the characteristics of a scrum team:
- Team members stick to the same set of rules and norms
- The accountability for the delivery of results is shared by the entire Scrum team
- The scrum team works as autonomous as possible
- The scrum team is empowered
- The scrum team organizes itself
- There is a balanced skillset within the scrum team
- A scrum team is composed of a minimal number of members, with no sub-teams
- Members of the scrum team are all full-time workers
- Members of the team work in the same location like a factory
The environment the scrum team works in defines the norms that the team has to follow, although some rules and norms need to be developed during the norming phase. The setting of rules is important to prevent the team members from wasting valuable time switching between different value systems and sets of rules. Some of the rules that a scrum team has to adopt include the following:
- Location and time of the daily scrum meeting
- Set a definition of done (DoD) to determine if a job is finished or not
- Tools to use
- Coding guidelines
The scrum team is responsible to deliver the committed delivery in time and compliance with the defined quality. Any good result or failure cannot be attributed to a single team member but always to the scrum team as a whole.
Kicking off with a Basic Scrum Framework
The scrum framework works around the delivery of values in iterative and rapid cycles. Rather than working to a fixed document specification, it prioritizes its way through an ever-revolving Product Backlog. Instead of arbitrary launch dates in the distant future, scrum framework arranges Product Roadmaps which layout sequential Sprints, each one resulting in a product release.
Short cycle times typically promote feedback from the customers, which allow stakeholders to validate assumptions quickly, minimize risk and adjust the trajectory as required. This becomes perfect for software projects that are complex and riddled with so many unknowns. This approach is a great solution to the many problems encountered by waterfall-driven projects.
Sprint Zero or preparatory sprint aims to front-load the work necessary to commence Sprint 1 effectively. This includes the preparation of the Project Roadmap, the formation of the basic skeleton for the project and prepares the team for features development.
Sprint Zero observes the same rules of regular sprints:
- Fixed lengths, typically 2 weeks
- Starts with Sprint Planning
- A cross-functional Scrum team works through a list of priority backlog items
- Completed work is demonstrated
- Work is completed with a retrospective
Consistency builds a rhythm with the Scrum team, persisting through subsequent Sprints that each follow the same pattern.
Sprint Zero aims to set the project and the people involved on a path to success. The team has to make critical decisions that will remove significant impediments. The team will start developing strong and collaborative working relationships, armed with the confidence that the projected Velocity can be achieved together.
Iteration and Improvement
In software development, a large application is broken into smaller chunks, a repetitive process called iterative development. Iterative development involves the designation of the feature code, its development and testing in repeated cycles. Additional features can be designed in each iteration, developed and tested until there is a fully functional software application for deployment to customers.
Iterative development is usually used together with incremental development using a longer development cycle that is typically split into smaller parts that build upon each other.
Iterative development differs from a traditional waterfall method in which every phase of the development life cycle is “gated.” Coding will not commence until the completion of the entire software application and has gone through a phase review. Testing, likewise, does not start until coding is completed and has passed the required phase gate reviews.
Working iteratively allows more flexibility for changes. When the requirements and designs of an application are done using the traditional method, or Big Design Up Front, unforeseen problems may surface after development begins. When working iteratively, the project team go through a cycle where they can evaluate each iteration, and determine the needed changes to produce a satisfactory product.
Agile is not simply a set of directions or a playbook but a mindset and a culture that need buy-in across an entire organization to succeed. Agile development and its testing practices have been beneficial to many organizations. The positive aspects of Agile are evident in areas such as decreased time to market, better communications, and lower costs.
Many professionals in the field of software development have seen the positive results of the methodology although some experienced the disadvantages. Agile development is a type of incremental model where software is developed in incremental but rapid cycles that resulted in small incremental releases, each release built on previous functionality.
Scrum is a core principle of agile. It is centered around continuous improvement. Scrum is the framework of getting work done, with Agile as the mindset that allows it to happen. Scrum is an agile project management network that is often described as a set of meetings, tools, and roles that work together to allow teams to structure and manage their work.
Scrum is the framework that makes things done, helping teams to practice agile principles in their daily communication and work. The beauty of Scrum is that it is not used only in software development but also in any other kind of development project. While there had been so many discussions about Agile vs Scrum, the consensus is that both work to benefit software development and almost any other type of development projects.
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