The Agile methodology has grown to become one of the most popular methods and series of principles for companies to follow to improve their performance. Agile methods are focused on creating value with the help of an iterative approach to handling and delivering projects. The most popular branch of the Agile methodology followed by organizations is the Scrum method. Scrum is a part of the Agile methodology focused on how companies can improve their project-based results to create meaningful deliveries of high quality. Project managers should have Scrum Master Certification if their company takes an Agile approach to ease the transition.

Agile vs. Scrum is a popular topic for debate because both terms are often used interchangeably, creating misunderstanding and confusion. This article discusses Agile methodology basics and what it means in depth and what Scrum methods are. Once a clear understanding of both aspects has been established, the main points of difference, or Agile vs. Scrum, will be discussed.

What is Agile?

Agile is a set of principles and an overall philosophy composed of the most effective ways companies can complete their projects in a timely fashion. The core principle behind the Agile philosophy is continuous improvement. In today’s day and age, technologies keep evolving, and with them, so do the customers’ requirements. This needs to be taken into consideration because developing a new product is a long term process. A successful product is one that caters to users needs and stays relevant over time. This is difficult to achieve because the consumer demands keep changing and Agile provides the solution for this growing problem.

Agile methods are focused on continuous deployment of projects to meet the consumer’s demands. Over time, based on feedback, more iterations will create a product that truly meets the user’s needs. Agile methodologies have been one of the most effective ways of tackling the problems that come with project management today.

What is Scrum?

Scrum methods are a subset of the Agile philosophy. Agile is a broad umbrella term that includes different methods, means, and principles that organizations can use to improve project delivery effectiveness and quality. 

Scrum is the most popular method in Agile to execute the methodology. It also takes an iterative approach to product planning, development, and execution. Each project comprises Scrum Teams which work in short iterations known as Sprints to complete the project. Each Sprint lasts for about two to three weeks where the Scrum Team works together in an extremely collaborative fashion to complete each iteration. 

The team meets regularly to discuss progress and problems and works together to solve them. Scrum teams are fairly independent and each member has ownership of their tasks. Towards the end of the sprint iteration is sent to the client for review, then feedback is to be implemented in the following iteration.

Difference between Agile and Scrum

Based on the points discussed above, the differences between Agile and Scrum may seem very minimal. This is often the point of confusion, leading to various organizations using the two terms interchangeably. Although the two may seem to overlap quite a bit, there are differences present. Some of the main points of difference are listed below.

Agile vs. Scrum: Points of Difference

  • The biggest point of difference between Agile and Scrum is that Agile is a broad philosophy that is focused on improving the overall quality of project delivery. In contrast, Scrum is just a method with which the Agile philosophy can be implemented in organizations.
  • The second point of difference is that Agile teams and Scrum teams are different. Scrum teams work in extremely short term sprints that last for no longer than two or three weeks at most. Agile teams, even though they work iteratively, have longer iterations.
  • Scrum teams are fairly independent and each team member takes ownership of their tasks daily to deliver results. On the other hand, Agile teams need an Agile project manager or a coach to ensure that all the processes are being followed properly across the project’s timeline.

  • The main point of focus for Scrum methods is the rapid frequency with which the teams can implement changes in their product. On the other hand, Agile teams follow a slightly more rigid flow (still more flexible than the traditional Waterfall approach).
  • Agile teams work together cohesively to generate meaningful results with each iteration. The process of each team’s workflow is predefined and they all collaborate regularly to stay updated on the project’s process. On the other hand, scrum teams meet daily at their Standup meetings to discuss their tasks and projects. 
  • The core objective of adopting Agile methods is to deliver high quality and workable products, software and applications that can satisfy the end user’s needs. The main objective for Scrum teams is to finish each sprint and implement new changes and features to the product with each iteration. The common goals are aligned, but the points of focus to achieve the main goal are different for Agile and Scrum.
  • Scrum methods are much more rapid than the overall Agile methodology, which means Scrum Teams often work with extremely tight deadlines to get their deliveries. On the other hand, Agile teams do not come with a specific timeline or short deadlines, hence work more freely than Scrum teams.
  • The Agile methodology is not a clearly defined set of rules and regulations. It is a philosophy and a cultural mindset that needs to be inculcated in all employees’ daily work life to ensure they have an Agile mindset and practice the Agile methodology with all the tasks they complete. Scrum is a series of methods, frameworks and principles that organizations and their teams can adopt or follow to deliver quantifiable results.
  • Agile takes a more holistic approach when compared to Scrum. It is an organizational philosophy that generates enterprise value and return on investment. It eliminates waste, improves the quality and benefits the end users, vendors and the organization. The Scrum method is used to simplify the project development and execution process to deliver products of a higher quality. Agile methods require organizational change to be successful whereas the Scrum methods can work in a team itself.

Choosing the Right Platform

Both Agile and Scrum are closely interlinked with one another. The Scrum methods are of no use if the Agile mindset is not present in the teams. The Scrum team and the Agile organization need to work together to create products most efficiently and are of the highest quality. Choosing the right platform between Scrum and Agile depends on the needs of the company. If an organization is looking for overall and holistic change, then Agile is the right choice. If the enterprise is looking for ways to improve their project planning and project delivery processes, Scrum is the answer.