Differences between Agile and Scrum

Ewa Rutczyńska-Jamróz

Jun 02, 20235 min read

Differences between Agile and Scrum

Table of Content

  • Agile and Scrum

    • What is Agile?

    • What is Scrum?

    • Agile and Scrum: similarities and differences

  • Agile vs Scrum: the differences between Agile and Scrum

    • The methodology: is Scrum Agile?

    • Agile vs Scrum team

    • Collaboration of team members

    • Delivery of work results

    • Approach to Agile and Scrum process

  • Agile vs Scrum: which to choose?

    • Agile Scrum methodology

Although Scrum is a methodology compatible with the Agile approach, Agile doesn't always mean Scrum. So, what are the differences between Agile and Scrum? There are at least a few.

Agile and Scrum

The terms Agile and Scrum are often used interchangeably, which can be confusing. However, the main difference between Agile and Scrum is that where Agile is a specific approach to software development and project management, Scrum is one of the more common methodologies categorized under the Agile umbrella.

But before we get into the details, let's take a look at what Agile and Scrum are.

What is Agile?

The Agile methodology was first defined in the Agile Manifesto of 2001. When seventeen developers met in Utah to discuss how development methods could be improved, and where they eventually determined "better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it".

An Agile methodology is a specific approach to software development and project management. It focuses on incremental delivery. Instead of imposing a rigid timeline upon a project that then concludes with a final product launch, a project may be approached by dividing it into smaller sections first. This sectioning allows for greater flexibility so that a project team may adapt to any changing requirements, including those of its clientele. It also enables a team to address problems as soon as they arise, thus increasing their efficiency. This way, Agile puts greater emphasis on collaboration, planning, and learning.

According to the Agile Manifesto, Agile is built on the following values:

  • individuals and interactions over processes and tools;
  • working software over comprehensive documentation;
  • customer collaboration over contract negotiation;
  • responding to change over following a plan.

Proceeding on these assumptions, the Agile methodology suits projects that run on a high level of uncertainty and in unpredictable conditions. And yet, even though software development and product creation are often undertaken in such an environment, other departments and industries have since adopted Agile, including marketing, HR, and finance.

Since Agile is comparable to a software development or project management philosophy, there are some methods required for its implementation. This is where Scrum comes in.

Learn more about Agile from our previous blog post Understanding Agile methodology.

What is Scrum?

Agile is a kind of mindset or philosophy by which certain methods ensure its values and principles are applied. Scrum, like Kanban or Extreme Programming XP, is an example of an Agile methodology and is one which, according to the "The 15th State of Agile Report" and 66% of its respondents, continues to be the most popular Agile methodology.

Scrum focuses on delivering business values in sprints. A sprint refers to a short period of time, usually from 2 to 4 weeks, during which the Scrum team is able to complete a small scope of a project and plan its next steps.

The Scrum methodology is based on such pillars as transparency, adaptation, and inspection. In practice, this means:

  • all team members and other stakeholders (e.g. clients) have access to the necessary project information, including its progress;
  • the Scrum team is ready to adapt to changing requirements and implement necessary changes in the project scope;
  • the process is planned in a way enabling a continual verification of quality and implementation improvements.

The Scrum team plays a crucial role in this process. The team should be small and consist of a product owner, a Scrum Master [link do artykułu], and a development team. The success of the project very much depends on the collaboration of the team members who share values such as courage, focus, commitment, respect, and openness.

The Scrum methodology best suits projects whose goals are not described in detail. Each sprint brings the team members closer to the overall objective and at the same time lets them adapt to the new priorities. As a result, the entire process is much more effective and subordinate to customer satisfaction.

Agile and Scrum: similarities and differences

Based on the definitions of Agile and Scrum methodologies, one notices many similarities. 

Among these are:

  • an iterative approach to software development and project management;
  • workflow organized in short development cycles;
  • focus on such values as collaboration, communication, transparency, and continuous improvement;
  • flexibility: a readiness to quickly adapt to new priorities and changing requirements rather than being held to a predetermined plan.

These similarities are fully justified seeing that Scrum is one of the Agile methodologies. However, there are also some characteristics that make Scrum unique under a much wider Agile umbrella. Let's have a look at what they are.

Agile vs Scrum: the differences between Agile and Scrum

The methodology: is Scrum Agile?

Agile is a set of values and principles which lay the foundations for iterative software development and project management. Scrum is one of the possible ways of putting these values and principles in place. In other words, Scrum falls under a wider umbrella of Agile methodologies.

Agile vs Scrum team

Unlike in Agile, Scrum team members are well-defined. Every Scrum team should consist of a product owner, Scrum Master, and a development team.

The product owner is a person who has a vision of the project and sets priorities to make it happen. This person deals with business requirements and manages the client's expectations. Under no circumstances should the product owner be confused with the project manager.

The Scrum Master is a person who acts as a sort of ‘servant leader’ and helps the team to simply do their job. In practice, it means that such a person removes obstacles, deals with challenges, and organizes the workflow. He or she also acts as a coach to ensure every team member understands the principles of the Scrum framework. This role should also not be confused with a project manager. The Scrum Master doesn't have any authority over team members but keeps the process in check.

To conclude, there is no project manager in the Scrum framework. The team is expected to be self-organizing and self-motivated whereas, in Agile, it's the leadership role that looks after project management.

Collaboration of team members

In both the Agile and Scrum methodologies team members are expected to collaborate with one another. The difference lies in how it's done.

In Agile, team members have frequent face-to-face interactions that take place whenever and wherever they're needed. There are no special rules on how collaboration should be facilitated. According to the Agile values and principles, team members are encouraged to share opinions and experiences to bring value-added to the project.

In Scrum, the collaboration also relies on face-to-face interactions, but there will be a special agenda for the meetings.

In fact, there are 5 types of meetings:

  • sprint planning meeting - the purpose here is to set goals for the sprint, i.e. to determine the tasks for the team members and set deadlines;
  • daily standup meetings - these are for keeping the team members and project progress on track; they are brief (usually 15 minutes) and to the point; each team member should answer 3 questions: What was accomplished yesterday? What will be accomplished today? What are the roadblocks?
  • sprint review meeting - the purpose is to present to the product owner and other stakeholders what was accomplished as a result of a given sprint, and to gather feedback;
  • sprint retrospective meeting - the purpose is to draw conclusions from the completed sprint and implement improvements; the meeting takes place among team members without external stakeholders;
  • product backlog refinement - the purpose is to make necessary adjustments in the product backlog, i.e. change priorities or clarify details.

As we can see, cooperation in Agile is flexible. In Scrum, on the other hand, there is a strictly defined order of meetings and information exchange.

Delivery of work results

In the Agile methodology, the requirements are verified as the project progresses throughout its whole lifecycle. Based on the assumption, there are many frequent deliveries to get feedback directly from end-users. However, the goal is delivered at the end of the project.

In the Scrum framework, sprints are planned in a way that enables the team to deliver a piece of work to the client for feedback. This requires that the project be broken into smaller deliverables. Therefore, a great emphasis is placed on planning so that there are some tangible effects at the end of each sprint. Based on the effects of the previous sprint, the scope for the next one is planned.

Approach to Agile and Scrum process

Apart from the differences between Agile and Scrum listed above, there are also some discrepancies in the approach to the software development process:

  • although both Agile and Scrum have room for flexibility, Scrum is better suited for projects where requirements change rapidly as it allows more space for more frequent changes;
  • in Agile each step of the project is monitored during the entire process; in Scrum, on the other hand, a check is done at the end of every sprint to draw conclusions for the next one;
  • with the above in mind, the software is subject to updates on a regular basis in Agile, while in Scrum it is planned on a sprint basis.

Agile vs Scrum: which to choose?

Those who have difficulty making decisions will surely appreciate the answer: you don't have to choose!

If you decide to implement the Scrum framework, you still come under the wider Agile umbrella. As we've already indicated, Scrum is an example of a methodology allowing the implementation of Agile values and principles in practice.

Considering the characteristics of Scrum, it's a good starting point for you to implement Agile in your organization. For many years now, Scrum has remained at the forefront of the more popular Agile methodologies and owes this ranking to its transparent rules and overall effectiveness. More and more organizations appreciate working with the Scrum methodology because it brings a multitude of benefits to the development team, external stakeholders, and the general quality of the project's results.

So, perhaps the question should be more about choosing between Scrum and other Agile methodologies such as Kanban or Extreme Programming XP. But we'll save that for another article...

Agile Scrum methodology

Staying on Scrum vs Agile for a moment, you may also encounter another question: "What is Scrum in Agile?". There is no doubt that Scrum and Agile can be used separately. But some believe that if you combine them, you can enjoy even greater benefits.

Agile Scrum methodology is what you get when you combine Agile philosophy with Scrum framework. It's definitely a good choice for projects with time pressure. The main benefits of the Agile Scrum methodology are:

  • increased level of satisfaction for every party involved, including the development team, customers, and other stakeholders;
  • a flexible process allowing space for innovation and creativity;
  • better quality while optimizing the resources involved.

If you're looking for an effective method for your project and want to decide between Agile and Scrum, Agile software development with Scrum may be the way to go.

I hope the differences between Agile and Scrum are now clear. But if in the meantime you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out to us at .

Recommended readings:

Product Designer’s role in the Product Life-Cycle

Configuration Control: The Choreographer of System Changes
Software Development Process: Unraveling the Path to Digital Success
Wireframes Definition and What They Are Used For

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Published on June 02, 2023


Ewa Rutczyńska-Jamróz Content Writer

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