What are Agile and Scrum?
Agile methodology was created as an alternative approach to software development. Focusing heavily on iteration, teamwork, and continuous end-user feedback, Agile methods are an extremely effective way to manage software development, due to the speed of project completion, and cost savings. Scrum in Agile is a popular project management structure, which uses the Agile principles and strong leadership roles.
Agile methods, including Scrum, break the project down into small builds, or increments. The main goal is to provide the customer with working software throughout each stage of development, rather than delivering it all at once when the project. Each team member is responsible for their own piece of the project, and the entire team does consistent check-ins, to update and change the project requirements as needed.
What’s the difference?
The difference between Agile and Scrum is that Agile is more of a framework, made up of general principles. Scrum is a way of practicing Agile principles. There are many ways to use Agile, and Scrum is just one of them. A few of the main hallmarks of Agile are continuous delivery, strong team collaboration, openness to change, and sustainable and consistent development.
The Scrum method has several well-defined leadership roles, and has the project broken up into pieces. Each piece is completed during a ‘sprint’, or a short period of development that lasts for several weeks. At the end of each sprint, the work is sent to the client.
Which is better for your project?
Firstly, you must decide whether your project would be suited to an Agile method. For software development, it is practically guaranteed that your project will be compatible with an Agile framework. There are many different approaches you can take, but we will focus on the most popular methods.
Agile is a general guide for how you can execute your project. The keystones of all Agile processes are face-to-face communication with the client, and with the development team, consistently delivered product, and the ability to adapt to changing parameters. There are other Agile styles, such as Extreme Programming, Kanban, and Lean Software Development. Ultimately, you as a project manager will have to decide what is best for your team. It is important to note that Agile methods will not be effective for projects that have rigid development requirements, or for those that have a fixed deadline.
Scrum, which is a specific execution of Agile principles, is best for projects that do not have a clear end-goal and that are open to change. Projects that need frequent check-ins and testing are also compatible with Scrum.
Oftentimes, project managers don’t only use one approach. Instead, they use a ‘hybrid’ or ‘blended’ technique that combines aspects of more than one project management style. A hybrid approach is when you use an Agile framework, with other non-Agile techniques. For example, a hybrid approach would be best if you have a project with set requirements and a solid end-goal, but that needs frequent incremental delivery.
What are the advantages of Agile?
Like the name suggests, Agile frameworks are quick and move easily. Meaning, development does not have to follow a strict order. Requirements of the software can evolve and change as the customer needs it. Sometimes the end goal is not clear at the beginning, and becomes concrete as the project progresses.
Because multiple elements of the software are created simultaneously, the time of the project is reduced drastically. The developers work on only their elements, with cross-team cooperation to make sure all the pieces fit.
Agile teams meet daily to discuss where they are on the project. Then, they decide what aspects are the most urgent, and change their focus to complete those elements first based on what the customer needs.
Disadvantages of Agile
Because there is a lot of flexibility with the development, the development timeline is often affected. As things change, either due to the requests of the client or other influences, the date of fulfillment is likely to be pushed back. Of course, this is not desirable, and the developers try to avoid delays as much as they can. However, some delays are sometimes inevitable.
Sometimes when we start something, and make changes throughout the process, we end up with something vastly different than our original intentions. This is only a disadvantage if, for some reason, you get something you don’t want. It is difficult for this to happen, due to all of the increment delivery and feedback, but there could still be issues.
Advantages of Scrum
The client is updated quite often on how the development is going, and knows what the next sprint will be. Being completely transparent with the end-user keeps Scrum teams accountable, and gives the end-user opportunity to make any changes to their order at any stage of the process.
Like Agile, Scrum is also quite flexible when compared to the old ways of software development, and in many of the same ways. While tasks and team roles are clearly defined, the development itself is able to change from week to week. The team is able to shift priorities using prioritization techniques, change their goals, and get feedback from the client that will help them sustain development speed.
Fixing mistakes early
Daily standup meetings are a staple of Scrum methodology. Each day, the team meets to discuss the previous day’s work, problems they encountered, and what is on their agenda for the new day. These meetings are great for finding little hiccups in the development, be it a misunderstanding or some piece of bad coding. Fixing mistakes early saves time and money.
Disadvantages of Scrum
Needs a strong team
When using Scrum, the development team must be familiar with the method. If they are unsure, or are lacking the skills needed, the team will not be able to work well together. There is also the possibility of a project failure if the Scrum Master tries to control the team too much, or if the other team members do not stick to their roles.
Needs clearly defined tasks
Like with most projects, people need to know exactly what they are supposed to do. If the task assignments are too vague or loose, the pieces may not fit together well. Then, they will have to backtrack and fix the inaccuracies, which takes up more valuable time.
Agile frameworks were made for software development, and can be used in many different ways for all sorts of projects. Scrum is one of the most popular ways to use Agile, and is a great way to complete complex software projects in a shorter amount of time.
Blocshop has been providing custom software development remotely since 2012. We use both Agile and Scrum when working on projects, developing in a way that best suits your needs. To learn more about how we have approached past projects using Agile methods, click here.