Out of the several roles and responsibilities of project managers, creating and overseeing an effective and efficient project plan is an essential part of their job. Before starting with the identification of risks, constraints, etc., of the project, choosing the right project management methodology is the first step to pave a path for an efficient project implementation.
There are several project methodologies to choose from, based on what is required by the project. However, the two most common and often conflated methodologies are Agile and Scrum methodologies. There exist several similarities between the two, which is why they are often confused for one another, but they are two separate concepts.
In this article we will look at what Scrum and Agile mean, their benefits and how they are different from one another.
What is Agile Methodology?
Agile Methodology is a project management philosophy that focuses on iteration in the completion of a project. It helps in continuous iteration of testing and development of a SDLC (Software Development Lifecycle) process by breaking the whole process into small parts or units. The development and testing phases occur concurrently, unlike the other software development methodologies.
Its goal is to create early ROIs that are clearly defined, measurable and the product features are delivered continuously in a repeatable manner. It is based on specific values and principles and acts as a guiding orientation for how the project should be delivered.
Agile methodology aims at working continuously with clients to understand their expectations and align them to the tasks of the project. This not only helps meet the requirements of the client optimally but also helps the manager adapt to the changes during the process rather than fixing all the changes at the end. Agile methodology focuses on continuous contact with clients and end users, to help evolve the requirements of the project based on the feedback received.
Agile can be seen as collection of similar methodologies, which is why it is often confused with Scrum, as it shares similar traits with Agile like:
- It emphasises on the regular team and client interaction.
- The software is created in an iterative fashion to allow users to test functionality while programming.
- Interactions with customers and end-users is preferred to make the product meet the needs in reality.
- The scope is open and dynamic and based on feedback from the customers and end users
Benefits of Agile Methodology
Research indicates that projects using Agile methodology are 28% more successful than the others and it is used in around 70% of the organizations. There are several benefits of Agile and they have been listed below:
- Product Quality
As testing is an integrated part of the project execution phase, the overall quality of the product is greater as the client is involved in the development process. This way changes can be made at each level quickly and based on the market realities.
- Customer Satisfaction
As the customer is always involved in the decision making and development process, their opinions and feedback are heard and thus, they feel involved and respected. This also leads to greater customer retention. This process of keeping the clients in the loop, delivers them extended value along with the product.
- Lower project completion time
The go-to market tine gets significantly reduced as the testing is integrated. This in some cases allows the product owner to enjoy the first-mover advantage and capitalize on the opportunity. Thus, the clients prefer such performance and come back with other projects.
- Higher Control
The managers can have a better control on the project as transparency is maintained throughout the process, feedback is integrated, quality is under control. The project implementation is easy and under control as the process is supervised through daily progress reports through advanced. reporting tools. Through metrics like lead time, cycle time,others that measure the team’s performance, identify bottlenecks and make data-driven decisions to correct them, the manager has extended control on the entire process.
- Better Project predictability
As the visibility and transparency of the project increases, predicting risks and coming up with mitigation policies expedited, and the predictability of delivering the project and its success can be easily forecasted. As agile works in small sprints, the approaches can be easily rectified if they’re giving unsatisfactory results. This reduces the risk of failure as well. Agile uses well-established and accurate time and cost metrics, producing results and optimizing performance.
- Empowers the team
Due to the iterative nature of Agile, the self-organizing teams keep learning and continuously improving with time. The constant feedback and direct involvement of clients present several learning opportunities for all levels of the Agile team. The teams are self-organised and autonomous, leading to an empowering environment where they can tackle new challenges.
- Continuous Improvement
As Agile is based on self-reflection and continuous improvement, each sprint is better than the previous one, the chances of repeating mistakes is low. It facilitates an open culture where ideas are exchanged and collaboration is valued, thus, improvement is achieved together.
What is Scrum Methodology?
When software development teams follow a Scrum methodology, it essentially means that they encourage teams to work together, learn through collaboration and experience, self-organize during problem-solving and continuously improve while reflecting on their wins and losses. The methodology is a part of Agile project management frameworks and describes a set of tools, roles, structures that help teams concert on the objectives of the project and smoothen the implementation of tasks.
While Agile is considered to be more of a mindset, Scrum is one of the frameworks to implement Agile. It is heuristic and is based on continuous development, learning and adjustment to various fluctuating factors. It is a process that allows Software development teams to focus on delivering the most business value, rapidly in the shortest period of time. It does this by focusing on accountability and teamwork. It uses sprint backlogs and burndown charts to increase the visibility of the project which allows managers to predict performances and plan accordingly.
Scrum also acknowledges that the team is not aware of all the processes at the beginning, and structures the process in such a way that it helps teams naturally adapt to customer requirements and evolve throughout the process. It uses ‘artifacts’, which are like tools to solve problems; a product backlog, sprint backlog and increment of objectives completed are the three artifacts of scrum.
Scrum teams are the champions of sustainable development practices of the organization. They should be formed in such a way that each member has a different skill set, so they can cross-train each other, self-organize and ensure a successful sprint completion. It should ideally consist of 7-9 members, who conquer the target with a clear, well-defined, collective attitude.
The scrum team is responsible for carrying out the established plan for each sprint. They do this by forecasting how much work they believe can be completed in the stipulated amount of time, by using the iteration as per their historical velocity. The scrum team further gives important feedback to the development teams and the clients their estimation and delivery process, which thus, making forecasts increasingly accurate.
Benefits of Scrum Methodology
If all the rules and processes established by the Scrum methodology are followed during the implementation of the project, there would be several visible benefits. The key benefits of Scrum methodology are:
- Quicker release of the useable product
- Higher quality of the product as it fits all the dynamic client requirements
- Higher productivity of the scrum team and boost to the employee morale due to increased autonomy and tremendous learning opportunities
- Increase client satisfaction and retention
The scrum methodology is simple as the rules, roles, events, and artifacts are comprehensive. It follows a semi-prescriptive approach that removes ambiguities in the development process, while giving sufficient space for companies to maintain control and personal expertise.
It organizes complex tasks into manageable sprints that let employees with no initial experience learn and overcome the challenges. Quick releases of the final products or even the sprints keep the team motivated and the users happy as they can see progress in a short amount of time.
Key differences between Agile and Scrum Methodologies
As seen throughout the article, Agile and Scrum methodology are very similar however, there exist several differences between the two. The following are some key differences between the two set of methodologies:
- While Agile is the continuous iteration of development and testing, Scrum is a process that focussed on delivering business value, in the most efficient way.
- Agile works on the basis of a feedback mechanism while Scrum delivers software development after each sprint, the feedback may take place either after the sprint or after series of development, as per planned by the management.
- In Agile the leadership plays a vital role, while Scrum is based on a self-organizing, cross-functional scrum team.
- The collaborations in Agile are face-to-face between the members, while Scrum collaborations are achieved through daily reports.
- In Agile, the process design and execution is simple while in Scrum it is innovative and experimental.
- Agile is a more rigid method, while Scrum is open to changes and is a dynamic process.
Conclusion: Choosing the right project methodology
After having a clear understanding of Agile and Scrum, they can be applied to projects. Rather than questioning if the company should choose an Agile or Scrum approach, it would be beneficial if the team thinks which agile methodology should be used for a particular project. The answer to this question could be Scrum, or the other various Agile methodologies that exist.
Various specific requirements and constraints of the project must be considered. Agile was originally created for software development projects and is compatible for projects that require constant updates and changes. However, the guiding principles of the Agile philosophy are widely used across many different types of projects. Scrum is best suited for projects which do not have clear requirements, are likely to experience change, or require frequent testing.
At the end, one must remember that merely choosing the right methodology is not the key to a successful project. The methodology must be executed skillfully along with other critical project management skills. There must be pepper communication between members, the leader must be capable of critical thinking and problem solving, and the team must work together, unitedly.