Agile vs. Scrum: What Are The Differences & How to Pick One

agile vs scrum

The “Agile vs. Scrum” comparison often suggests that they are two separate entities, each advocating for different principles. However, the truth is that these terms are intertwined and share a close relationship. Both Agile and Scrum embody modern business practices designed to address the shortcomings of traditional approaches.

It’s important to understand that Agile is a broader methodology that includes various frameworks, with Scrum being one of them.

Despite this, the core idea behind Agile and Scrum remains the same—they both follow an iterative cycle, quickly adapt to changes, and prioritize delivering high-quality products. While Scrum has evolved as a specific framework within Agile and developed its unique characteristics, they share the same foundation.

This article will thoroughly compare Agile vs. Scrum, shedding light on their distinctive features and methodologies. Let’s start!

What is Agile Project Management Methodology?

Born out of the software engineering world in 2001 and relying on 12 principles outlined in the Agile Manifesto, this project management methodology has become a widely adopted approach across various industries, revolutionizing project management practices.

At its core, Agile compensates for the limitations of traditional methods by prioritizing adaptability, teamwork, and direct client collaboration to achieve successful project implementation and deliver high-quality outcomes.

The pillars of Agile methodology revolve around constant monitoring and adaptation, facilitated by frequent communication within the organization, with employees, and most importantly, with clients and customers. This open and direct feedback loop ensures that the work process is continuously monitored and adjusted as necessary.

Agile methodology thrives in complex business projects and variable, dynamic environments where quick responses to changing requirements are essential. Agile teams continuously collaborate and deliver work in iterative cycles to achieve objectives. This practice enables rapid response to emerging challenges, fostering an environment of flexibility and innovation.

Organizations across industries, from IT to marketing, have embraced Agile principles. From startups to large enterprises, businesses of all sizes recognize the value of Agile in delivering value to clients and customers efficiently.

What is Scrum Project Management Methodology?

Scrum, a widely employed Agile methodology framework in software development and other industries, centers around experiential learning—acquiring knowledge through hands-on experience. The key lies in understanding, as every challenge and triumph encountered during a project is a repository of knowledge that guides future decision-making.

Scrum’s alignment with the cyclical nature of life is evident in its use of sprints. During each sprint, teams focus on specific tasks and gain valuable insights. As one sprint ends, the team carries the lessons learned and achievements into the next cycle, promoting continuous improvement and growth.

The product and sprint backlog are central to Scrum. The product backlog in Scrum places a strong emphasis on task prioritization, outlining the essential tasks that require execution. The sprint backlog complements this, detailing prioritization for a specific sprint.

Upon completing a sprint cycle, the team analyzes the finished items from the product backlog, incorporating them into backlogs from previous sprints. With each sprint, this iterative approach enables Scrum to infuse new knowledge and experience into the team, gradually propelling the project toward successful realization.

Scrum’s versatility suits various industries, extending beyond software development. Its iterative, user-centric approach has led to widespread adoption by teams seeking collaborative and effective project management methodologies.

Agile vs Scrum: Major Differences

agile vs scrum

Agile vs. Scrum can be best summarized through their main distinctions shown in the following list:

Delivery Times

  • Agile: A development methodology based on an incremental and interactive approach. It delivers working software in small increments at regular intervals, typically every few weeks. The focus is on continuously providing valuable software to the customers for feedback and adaptation.
  • Scrum: A specific framework of Agile methodology. It follows a time-boxed approach with fixed iterations and sprints, usually lasting two to four weeks. At the end of each sprint, a potentially shippable product increment is delivered to the customer for feedback and review.

Main Philosophy

  • Agile: The main philosophy is to prioritize customer satisfaction and respond to changing requirements throughout the development process. It emphasizes collaboration, customer feedback, and incremental improvements.
  • Scrum: The main philosophy revolves around self-organization, empirical learning, and cross-functional teamwork. It encourages transparency, inspection, and adaptation to deliver the maximum business value to the customer.

Approach Breakdown

  • Agile: Provides a flexible framework with various approaches like Scrum, Kanban, and XP. It focuses on individuals and interactions, working software, customer collaboration, and responding to change.
  • Scrum: Defines roles (Scrum Master, Product Owner, Scrum Team), events (Sprint planning, Daily Standup, Sprint Review, Sprint Retrospective), and artifacts (Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, Increment). Scrum relies on short iterations and regular meetings to maintain a steady pace of delivery.

Handling Changes

  • Agile: It can be adaptable to change but requires a balance between accommodating new requirements and maintaining stability in the development process. It allows changes even late in development but should be prioritized and managed effectively.
  • Scrum: It’s highly responsive to changes due to its short iterations. The Scrum team inspects and adapts at the end of each sprint, making it easier to incorporate new insights and adjust the project’s direction accordingly.


Agile vs. Kanban

Let’s now go through the ‘’Agile vs. Kanban’’ comparison. We can say that both frameworks implement the principles and practices of Agile methodology but apply them in distinct ways. Take a closer look at each approach below:

Methodological Focus

  • Agile: Agile methodology aims to improve collaboration among team members and increase efficiency through structured iterations and fixed roles. It emphasizes an iterative approach to project execution.
  • Kanban: Kanban, on the other hand, is a visual approach that focuses on speed and continuous process improvement. It highlights a flexible, flow-based system without fixed iterations or specific roles.

Speed and Iteration

  • Agile: Agile works in predefined time-boxed iterations, often called agile sprints. Teams plan and execute tasks within these fixed time frames, aiming to deliver valuable increments at the end of each iteration.
  • Kanban: Kanban operates on a continuous flow system with no predefined time boxes. Work items move through the process as capacity allows, allowing for a more flexible and responsive workflow.

Role Definition

  • Agile: Typically defines specific roles within the team, such as Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Scrum Team, each with distinct responsibilities and tasks.
  • Kanban: It’s less prescriptive in roles, allowing teams to have more fluid and flexible parts based on their needs. It relies on a collaborative approach to manage work items.


Agile vs. Waterfall

Agile and Waterfall are two distinct project management approaches, each with its own characteristics and implementation. Let’s see what those are:

Project Planning

  • Agile: Uses iterative planning, where project requirements are continually refined and adjusted based on feedback and changing needs. Planning occurs in short cycles, enabling quicker responses to new insights.
  • Waterfall: Requires comprehensive planning upfront, with a detailed project plan created before development begins. Changes made during the project can be more challenging to incorporate, as they can impact the entire sequential process.

Project Delivery

  • Agile: With its iterative nature, it delivers increments of the project at regular intervals, providing value to stakeholders early and frequently.
  • Waterfall: Delivers the entire project in one go at the end of the development process, potentially leading to more extended waiting periods for stakeholders to see tangible results.

Risk Management

  • Agile: Focuses on risk management throughout the project’s life cycle, with frequent assessments and adaptations to mitigate potential issues.
  • Waterfall: It can present challenges in identifying and addressing risks early in the project, as issues can only be apparent later in the development process.


Agile vs Scrum—How to Choose One?

The choice between Agile and Scrum hinges on a critical question: what factors should you consider when selecting these approaches? Now that we have explored their characteristics, we suggest basing the choice between these two on the following criteria:

  • Project Requirements: Assess the specific requirements of your project. Agile is often preferred if your project demands flexibility, adaptability, and continuous feedback from end users.

Agile frameworks, like Scrum, focus on delivering incremental value to customers, making them ideal for projects where requirements can undergo iterative refinement.

  • Project Complexity: Evaluate the complexity of your project. Agile approaches, including Scrum, excel in managing complex projects with uncertain or rapidly changing requirements. Such methods encourage iterative development, allowing you to break down complex tasks into manageable parts and adapt to challenges.

Moreover, when comparing Agile vs. Scrum, organizations often combine the two approaches to create a powerful and efficient software development environment.

  • Team Size and Expertise: Consider the size and expertise of your project team. Both approaches are well suited for small and medium cross-functional teams rather than larger ones, but Agile offers more flexibility. Scrum provides a structured framework better suited for medium-sized teams with defined roles and responsibilities.
  • Customer Involvement: Determine the level of customer involvement you anticipate during the development process. Agile relies on customer collaboration and continuous feedback, prioritizing customer satisfaction. On the other hand, Scrum doesn’t dedicate as much attention to this segment as Agile.
  • Project Flexibility: Analyze the degree of flexibility needed throughout the project lifecycle. Both approaches can offer the necessary mechanisms to accommodate projects to evolving requirements and external factors.

The choice between them should be based on your team’s preference for a more structured (Scrum) or adaptable (Agile) approach, considering the project’s specific needs and goals.


After comparing the various frameworks of Agile methodology, including Agile vs. Scrum, we can conclude that each approach caters to an organization’s specific needs while aiming for the same goal—adapting business practices to the dynamic nature of operations and market demands.

Each framework, including the classic Agile methodology and the more specialized Scrum, serves this purpose uniquely but with a shared objective. Selecting the most suitable methodology depends on your organization’s structure, vision, and team dynamics.

Take a moment to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each approach, and with a well-informed choice, embark on the journey of project realization.

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