Due to increasingly rapid rates of change in the corporate world, whether they occur within customer demands, project requirements, support issues or tasks, many companies are finding that their traditional business processes do not allow them to move fast enough and keep up with changes.
An increasing number of project management, product management and software development teams are transitioning from traditional Waterfall methodologies to Agile ones. Those who are new to Agile are often unaware of the fact that there are different types of Agile methodologies. One of the most popular Agile process is the Scrum methodology. We hope that this post clarifies the idea behind both Scrum and Agile.
An overview of the Agile methodology
The Agile methodology was first introduced in 2001 when the “Agile Manifesto” was formalized when 17 people got together at Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah. The Agile Manifesto outlines 12 important principles, which include communication, collaboration, the importance of software, and open-mindedness to change.
I previously wrote a post entitled Waterfall vs. Agile, in which I explain what differentiates Agile from Waterfall. The Agile methodology was basically put together as a solution to circumvent the pitfalls associated with Waterfall. Being a more flexible management framework, Agile allows teams to bypass traditional sequential paradigms and get more work done in a shorter time period.
What new Agile teams don’t realize, is that there are different types of Agile methodologies, the most popular one being Scrum.
The Scrum Methodology
Most teams that transition to Agile choose to start with the Scrum methodology because it is simple and allows for a lot of flexibility.
As explained on Scrummethodology.com, “Scrum is unique because it introduced the idea of “empirical process control.” That is, Scrum uses the real-world progress of a project — not a best guess or uninformed forecast — to plan and schedule releases.” Therefore, the Scrum methodology allows for delivering value in a shorter amount of time, which is why it is the most commonly selected type of agile process.
What differentiates the Scrum methodology vs. agile and other methodologies?
– Scrum has three roles: Product owner, team members, scrum master. The product owner is the one in charge of delivering value from the product as they are closely analyzing the business and customer requirements so that they could relay this information to the team. The team members are the ones who get a majority of the work done, each with a set of skills that allow them to organize projects with a clear direction and ensure successful completion. Lastly, scrum masters are typically the coach of the team, and constantly analyzing the work done from the team members to add additional tuning and keep everything in check.
– Projects are divided into sprints, which typically last one, two or three weeks.
– At the end of each sprint, all stakeholders meet to assess the progress and plan its next steps.
– The advantage of scrum is that a project’s direction to be adjusted based on completed work, not on speculation or predictions.
The Scrum process includes the following steps:
This process allows all team members to share thoughts and concerns, and properly understand the workflow.
Every iteration starts with a sprint planning meeting. The product owner holds a conversation with the team and decides which stories are highest in priority, and which ones they will tackle first. Stories are added to the sprint backlog, and the team then breaks down the stories and turn them into tasks.
The daily scrum is also known as the daily standup meeting. This serves to tighten communication and ensure that the entire team is on the same page. Each member goes through what they have done since the last standup, what they plan to work on before the next one, and outline any obstacles.
Sprint review meeting
At the end of a sprint, the team presents their work to the product owner. The product owner goes through the sprint backlog and either accepts or rejects the work. All uncompleted stories are rejected by the product owner.
Sprint retrospective meeting
Finally, after a sprint, the scrum master meets with the team for a retrospective meeting. They go over what went well, what did not, and what can be improved in the next sprint. The product owner is also present, and will listen to the team lay out the good and bad aspects of the sprint. This process allows the entire team to focus on its overall performance and identify strategies for improvement. It is crucial as the ScrumMaster can observe common impediments and work to resolve them.
When trying to understand Scrum methodology vs Agile and other methodolgies, the important takeaways are these:
- Scrum is a form of Agile
- Agile is not prescriptive, and leaves a lot of room for coming up with your own concrete steps.
- Scrum is much more prescriptive and has more rigid “rules” for project management (thought still not very restrictive as these things go)