Understanding The Differences between Agile and Scrum

Understanding The Differences between Agile and Scrum

Want to learn about the differences between Agile vs Scrum?

While Agile and Scrum are two very similar project management methods, they’re not the same.

Scrum teams tend to be smaller and more experienced than Agile teams. They’re also more self-sufficient and require less hands-on leadership. It’s one of the reasons why Scrum lends itself to complex software tasks while Agile is better suited to more general development projects.

But don’t worry, they’re still pretty similar.

Sorta like The Avengers and Justice League. Both distinctly unique in their own way, but have the same overarching goal and purpose.

In this article, we’ll give you an in-depth look at what they both are, how they differ, and who they’re best suited to. We’ll also highlight a handy tool that’ll help you handle all your Agile AND Scrum projects!

This Article Contains:

(click on the links to jump to a specific section)

Let’s get started!

What Is Agile Project Management?

Agile project management is an incremental and iterative approach to project management that breaks a large project into smaller development cycles. 

These cycles, called “sprints”, are then assigned to different, self-sufficient Agile teams to increase speed and efficiency 

Since you’re breaking your project into smaller bites, you can easily incorporate customer and stakeholder feedback at the end of each sprint. With this continuous improvement and incremental approach, you ensure that you give them the final product that totally satisfies their needs.

Think of it like this:

What do you think would be a better approach for The Avengers?

Fight every single villain all at once? Or try and defeat them one-by-one?

Pretty, sure they’d choose the second option, especially since Infinity War involved the first approach and that didn’t end so well…

Similarly, with Agile, you don’t attempt everything, all in one go. You break things up to make it more manageable and approachable.

This was just a quick rundown on what Agile is, if you want to learn about it in detail, check out our comprehensive guide on Agile

How do Agile sprints work?

With sprints, you can break your project into small chunks to incorporate customer and end-user feedback at every step of your project’s development

Here’s an example of this:

Let’s say you’re developing an app. 

In the Agile software development process, you can focus on developing a new feature (user story) with each current sprint. Once your team completes each feature (sprint), you can ask your customers to try the app and give you detailed feedback on what they like and don’t like.

Once your team incorporates their input, they can move on to the next sprint and product backlog items.

Want to learn more about Agile software development? Here’s our detailed guide.

Why is Agile better than traditional project management models like the Waterfall method?

The Waterfall method is probably the most common project management methodology today. In the Waterfall methodology, the customer is only part of the process at the beginning and the end: there’s no space for continuous feedback.

And while the Waterfall model is great for some projects and allows you to work uninterrupted, it’s a rigid approach and doesn’t adapt to a customer’s changing requirements. You’re stuck with assumptions of what your customers want and hoping that they like what you’ve developed after months of hard work.

We don’t know about you, but we’d rather not risk months of work purely based on hope!

In Agile development, this doesn’t happen.

With active customer and user involvement in the development process, you’re not assuming what they want. Instead, you’re making sure you know what they want by asking them directly. That way, your final product will have been built based on their input!

For an in-depth guide on the Agile model vs. the Waterfall model, click here.

What Is The Agile Manifesto?

To better understand the Agile approach, you need to understand what the Agile Manifesto is. 

The Agile Manifesto is a quick summary of what the Agile project methodology stands for and what its guiding principles are. 

Here’s a quick summary of the 12 Agile framework principles:

  • Agile principles of customer satisfaction: your customer should always be your priority. Embrace their changing needs and constant feedback to deliver a quality product that satisfies them
  • Agile principles of quality: your main measurement of success is your customer’s satisfaction. This is achieved with a quality-driven, sustainable development process
  • Agile principles of teamwork: team members should always be actively involved and motivated. You should empower your team, treat them as individuals and give them the tools and environment they need to succeed
  • Agile principles of project management: keep your iterative Agile development processes simple and evaluate them on a regular basis. Remove any unnecessary steps to speed things up and optimize the entire process

Is Agile only for software development?

The Agile approach started as a software-focused project management methodology

However, there are tons of different versions of Agile based on the Agile Manifesto.

While some frameworks like Extreme Programming still use Agile practices that are focused on delivering working software, Agile is more than just a software development methodology

The Agile methodology can help you streamline pretty much any type of project!

spider-man imposter meme

What Is Scrum Project Management?

Scrum project management is a modern project management approach that breaks down your project into smaller chunks that are worked on in a short 2-4 week interval

Each of these cycles is called sprints and they allow you to incorporate customer feedback easily and make the necessary changes quickly.

Sound similar to Agile management?

Almost too similar, right?

Like it’s a copy of it:

Well, that’s because they’re closely related…

What is meant by Scrum in Agile?

The Scrum process is based on the Agile development methodology and adopts its sprint-based approach to product development

The Scrum framework, however, takes the iterative development approach a step further by using very cross-functional and self-organizing teams.

For a detailed look at Scrum, here’s our comprehensive Scrum guide.

Is Scrum Part of Agile?

Yes, Scrum is a management approach that’s part of the Agile family.

When comparing Agile vs Scrum, it’s important to note that the Scrum process is a part of the Agile method. While the Agile approach is a popular project management methodology by itself, it’s also a broader concept.

That’s why you have multiple project methodologies that are based on the Agile method, like Scrum, Extreme Programming, and Kanban.

Kind of like the X-Men.

They kicked things off and started a whole run of different superhero movies that used the same formula!

What’s the Kanban methodology?

The Kanban method is a development methodology where your tasks are laid out on an interactive Kanban board that’s used mostly for product development. In this Kanban setup, you can quickly move things around and visualize your progress easily. 

For more information on the Kanban methodology, click here.

And in case you’re interested in other Agile methodologies, look at our guides to Lean and Extreme Programming.

The Scrum process, like the Kanban method, is an Agile-based framework. 

That’s why when comparing Scrum vs Waterfall project management, you’ll see the same benefits as comparing Agile vs the Waterfall methodology.

In many cases, project teams actually use Scrum and Kanban together for more effective development work processes:

What is the difference between Agile Scrum and Kanban?

When looking at Agile methods, and evaluating Scrum vs Kanban, you don’t always have to make a choice. 

Why? 

Because Scrum and Kanban can be used together.

For example, your Scrum team can use a Kanban board along with their Scrum board to add an extra layer of visibility to the sprint’s adaptive workflows

You can use Kanban charts during your sprint planning meeting to establish a consolidated view of your product backlog. Then, during Scrum events like your sprint review meeting or sprint retrospective, the Scrum Master (manager) can update it with the team’s work progress.

It’s like combining Batman’s lack of superpowers with Hawkeye’s lack of superpowers.

batman saying I see what you did there

Oh, wait. Scratch that.

It’s like combining Flash’s speed with Hulk’s strength.

There we go.

This was just a brief look at Scrum and Kanban. Here’s our detailed article comparing Scrum and Kanban and here’s our walkthrough on how to use them together.

What is the difference between Scrum and Sprint?

Scrum is an Agile-based methodology that uses sprints as part of its framework. A Scrum project is broken down into multiple smaller sections that are worked on for around 2-4 weeks. This 2-4 week time period where you work on each project section is called a sprint.

Summary: Scrum is a project management methodology. Sprints are not. 

However, sprints do constitute a part of the Scrum methodology.

What Is the Difference Between Agile And Scrum? 

While Agile and Scrum are very similar, there are a few distinct differences. Scrum teams tend to be smaller, more experienced, and self-sufficient. Additionally, in Scrum, the Scrum master plays a coaching role as opposed to the more hands-on project manager role that you find in Agile. 

This lends Scrum to be more applicable to complex software projects when compared to Agile,  which is better suited to most other kinds of projects.

Let’s take a closer look at those key differences between Agile and Scrum:

A. Agile vs Scrum: Team Structure

While Agile and Scrum teams are very similar, their roles differ slightly.

1. What Is An Agile team?

In the Agile framework, teams are broken down into four defined roles:

  • Product owners: communicate with the customers and relay their feedback
  • Project managers: guide the project team 
  • Project team members: actually work on the project
  • Project stakeholder: people that aren’t actively involved in the project but whose inputs are valued. For example, salespeople, marketers, etc.

For a detailed look at Agile teams and how to manage them, click here.

2. What Is A Scrum team?

The Scrum team typically has a small team size comprising of five to seven members and is usually divided like this:

  • Scrum master: the specialized Scrum master helps the team members learn the Scrum principles and their application. Scrum masters also take care of their team, making sure they have what they need to succeed and hold them accountable through the daily Scrum meeting (daily stand-ups
  • Project owner: the Scrum project owner is the link between the team and the client. They are the ones that make sure the customer’s needs are being handled properly by the team
  • Development team: the team is self-organizing and self-sufficient. The Scrum team is the one in charge of developing the Scrum project

This was just a brief look at the Scrum team. Here are detailed breakdowns of what a Scrum team is, what a Scrum master is, and what the various Scrum roles are.

B. Agile vs Scrum: Leadership

One of the key ways that Agile and Scrum frameworks differ is in their approach to leadership.

1. Agile leadership

In the Agile process, leadership is essential. 

You usually have a product owner who interacts with the customers and gathers incremental feedback. The product owner then communicates this information to a project manager who oversees the project team.

Additionally, you have multiple project stakeholders who have a say in the development process. This way, while your Agile team members need to be self-sufficient, there’s a lot of leadership to guide them on the right path.

2. Scrum leadership

In the Scrum methodology, you have highly independent, cross-functional teams.

While there’s a Scrum master guiding them throughout the process and leading Scrum meetings like the sprint retrospective, the Scrum team has far more autonomy over their tasks and processes. 

Want a detailed look at Scrum meetings? Check our comprehensive article on Scrum meetings like the sprint review and sprint retrospective.

Additionally, as the Scrum framework usually deals with highly complex tasks and projects, each team member needs to be able to function with as little supervision as possible. 

The extra freedom helps team members take decisions quickly and change direction within the scope of the broader development goals. Without this independence, your entire project would get stalled all the time!

That’s why, when you’re dealing with Scrum teams, each member is their own, highly capable superhero!

batman saying I'm batman

But there’s a caveat when looking at Scrum vs Agile. For the Scrum approach to work, the team members would have to be sufficiently experienced.

Scrum or Agile?

When it comes to Agile vs Scrum, which projects are they best suited to?

Here’s a breakdown:

You should choose the Agile methodology if:

  • You need the flexibility to accommodate quick changes in the project 
  • You need a very collaborative, interactive team dynamic
  • You need the inputs of different project stakeholders like marketers and senior management

You should use the Scrum methodology if:

  • You’re dealing with a highly complex project that will need constant change
  • You have experienced team members that work well together and are self-motivated

However, remember that when looking at Scrum vs Agile, know that both very helpful project management methods that will help you:

  • Implement your stakeholder or customer’s approach easily and effectively
  • Speed up your development, management, and overall process
  • Collaborate better
  • Make your projects sound 100x cooler

What’s The Best Agile And Scrum Project Management Software?

You can’t manage an Agile or Scrum team without the right tool, right?

That’s why ClickUp was built for Scrum and Agile project management!

And if you need a detailed breakdown on why it’s so perfect for Agile and Scrum, look at our guide on the best Agile tools.

ClickUp devices on Alexa, laptop, and iPad

(Spoiler alert: it has everything you could ask for!)

ClickUp is the world’s highest-rated Agile Scrum project management tool and has tons of features to keep your Agile, Scrum, Kanban, and Extreme Programming projects on track. 

Using ClickUp is super easy and it’ll help you implement the Agile approach or Scrum methodology in no time!

Here’s how ClickUp helps you become your own superhero and easily adapt to the Agile mindset:

1. Multiple Views for multiple working preferences

Regardless of which Agile framework you’re using, your project environment needs to be highly adaptable to changes.

I mean, why else do you think superhero HQs keep getting destroyed?

They’re not flexible enough to deal with new villains!

That’s why you should ensure that your Agile software application can cope with project changes.

Luckily, that’s exactly what you get with ClickUp.

ClickUp embraces the Agile process by giving you multiple views to adapt to your team!

Here’s how that looks like:

A. Required Task Views

ClickUp has two required task views that can adapt to any project management methodology and provide greater flexibility:

  1. Board view

ClickUp’s Board view is the perfect Agile view for a Kanban team

You can even use it as a Scrum board or Kanban board to move tasks around quickly and keep up with the Agile development principles. 

All you need is a quick look at your task boards to find out where your projects are and move tasks around instantly.

tasks on clickup's powerful board view

We bet The Justice League would’ve loved this view to keep track of all their assignments in a flash!

Geddit?

Flash, like the superhero.

Sorry.

man shaking head and face palming

  1. List view

This is a great view for project managers who handle their work with GTD-style to-do lists. 

With this view, your team’s tasks are listed down in a simple checklist. As your team progresses, they can check off their tasks. Once they’re done, they can simply move on to the next sprint.

ClickUp's powerful list view

B. Box view

The Box view is the perfect Agile team view. It’s a simple high-level overview of all the tasks your Agile teams have underway.

How you can use this view for Agile and Scrum teams:

Project managers and Scrum masters can use it to get a complete overview of everything that’s being developed on a daily basis

Since the sprint’s tasks are sorted by assignee, project managers and Scrum masters can immediately figure out what each team member is working on. 

clickup's box view showing workload

C. Calendar view

ClickUp’s Calendar view helps project managers quickly plan out and manage their work schedule. They can check on all their upcoming tasks and prepare for them quickly.

Using this view with Agile and Scrum teams:

Use this view for Scrum events like sprint planning and sprint retrospective to keep up with your upcoming tasks. You can also use it to figure out when you can start adding items from your product backlog and when you can plan your office parties!

Since the Agile methodology is all about changing and adapting, a manager can even toggle between calendar views.

Managers can view their calendar as:

  • Days: to check up on tasks scheduled on a given date
  • 4-Days: to view tasks over a four-day time frame
  • Week: to check your weekly Scrum sprint schedule
  • Monthly: to find out how your Scrum project roadmap for the next month looks like

D. Me Mode

ClickUp’s “Memode exclusively highlights the comments, subtasks, and task lists that are assigned to you. That way you minimize distractions, helping you focus better on your next assignment.

ClickUp's me mode filter options

Looks like someone would like this view:

lego batman saying I work alone

2. Stay on top of your Agile sprints with Sprint Lists

To manage your Agile process, you’ll need sprint lists, right?

Here’s how you can do it in ClickUp:

ClickUp can add checklists of all your projects, tasks, and subtasks to create Sprint Lists that break down the deliverable products for a stretch. 

All you need to do is check items off these lists while you move to the next sprint

You can even add Scrum points to each of these lists to quickly tackle a product backlog item. As ClickUp’s lists are so easy to understand, they’re also the perfect way for an Agile coach to explain any core principle to their team!

For more information on the responsibilities of an Agile coach, click here.

ClickUp's list view showing sprint planning

Scrum masters can also use these checklists as references in their sprint planning and stand-up meetings with their teams.

Here’s how to set up an Agile workflow in ClickUp. And if you need a quick brush up on the Agile workflow, click here.

3. Visualize your Agile Scrum project management with Agile Dashboards

ClickUp’s Dashboards are perfect for high-level overviews of your Agile and Scrum development tasks. You can also add your sprint lists and tasks to this visual framework to keep track of your work in progress.

And don’t underestimate the importance of visual cues!

Could you imagine superheroes being as popular as they are right now, if they were all based on 1000-page novels, instead of comic books?

Here’s a closer look at the different things you can track:

A. Velocity Charts

With ClickUp’s Velocity Chart, you can quickly find out the completion rate of your tasks. They break down your tasks into weekly or bi-weekly intervals with their average velocity displayed here. 

It’s a good way to see what your team is capable of doing within a given time frame. This ensures that you don’t bite off more than you can chew, which most superhero teams tend to do, unfortunately.

So yes, don’t be a superhero team.

Be smarter.

Be an Agile team.

ClickUp dashboard showing a velocity chart

Want to learn more about velocity charts? Click here. 

B. Burndown Charts

ClickUp’s Burndown Chart feature shows you how well your team is performing against a target line. With it, you can quickly see how much work your team has left. 

Here’s what the chart shows:

  • Target progress: the ideal completion pace you need to meet your deadlines
  • Projected progress: your current trending rate based on tasks currently completed
  • Active: the real number of tasks that are currently completed

ClickUp's dashboard burndown charts

Check out our comprehensive article for more information about burndown charts. 

C. Burnup Charts

With ClickUp’s Burn up Charts, you can see what has been completed against your scope.

With it, you take stock of the total work you’ve completed so far. This can motivate your whole team to reach the finish line.

ClickUp's dashboard burnup chart

Want to learn more about burnup charts? Here’s our detailed guide.

D. Cumulative Flow Charts

ClickUp’s Cumulative Flow Chart shows you your Scrum project progress over time. Your tasks are color-coded by their status so you can determine where things are. This helps you to immediately identify and solve bottlenecks!

ClickUp's dashboard cumulative flow chart

For more information on cumulative flow charts, click here.

4. Get effective responses with Assigned Comments

You can’t be “Agile” if your team is taking too long to address your comments, right?

You need your comments to be addressed as quickly as Marvel churns out movies!

Here’s how ClickUp helps you:

With ClickUp, you can instantly convert a comment into a task and assign it to a team member. They’ll get a notification and it’ll also pop-up in their task tray to help them get started immediately.

Once they’ve addressed it, they simply mark the comment as resolved to eliminate any unnecessary follow-ups.

ClickUp's resolved comment feature

5. Keep the communication flowing with Comment Sections

Active team communication is one of the most vital elements of any Agile project

Your team needs an effective way to quickly communicate project updates and collaborate over the development process. This is especially important for remote teams who can only have face-to-face interactions via video calls.

Here’s how to use it with ClickUp:

All ClickUp tasks come with their own dedicated comment section to exchange files, ideas, and boost team collaboration. Teammates can even tag people and share project updates to keep the project rolling.

clickup being used for an instagram post

ClickUp also integrates with tons of communication tools, like Slack and Zoom, to ensure successful project communication is always a click away!

6. Manage varying Agile project stages with Custom Statuses

The Agile approach isn’t just for the software development life cycle anymore. 

It can be applied to sales, marketing, design, superhero-ing… practically everything!

But just because you can use the same methodology for different projects doesn’t mean they’re the same.

As each project has its own process design and project requirements, your management tool needs to adapt to them too.

How ClickUp helps you with this:

Standard project management tools usually just give you a standard set of project statuses. With ClickUp’s project management program, you can customize them!

That way, you’re not stuck with statuses that aren’t made for your project needs.

Why would that be a problem? 

Imagine using the same set of statuses for both your marketing and for your software development projects!

With ClickUp’s Customizable Statuses, you’ll never have that problem. 

You can get as creative and detailed as you want – “Editorial Review”, “Beta System Testing, “Wireframing”, “Celebratory Pizza Party Stage – it’s entirely up to you! 

ClickUp's kanban board view

But that’s not all of ClickUp’s features!

Just like you can never have enough Marvel films, this powerful Agile Scrum tool offers tons of other features, like:

  • Project Management Automation: automate 50+ actions or create your own to enhance Scrum process efficiency
  • Priorities: assign task priorities from a range between lowest to highest priority
  • Dependencies: attempt individual tasks in the right sequence
  • Goals: easily tack each sprint goal by breaking them down into smaller targets
  • Pulse: know what your Kanban team is most focused on at the moment
  • Docs: create a project plan or detailed knowledge bases easily
  • Profiles: know the assignments of all your Scrum team roles
  • Task Checklists: manage your sprint backlog with simple to-do lists
  • Collaboration Detection: know when someone is working on the same task as you
  • Team Reporting: track the real-time performance of your remote or in-house Scrum team and analyze the reports during your daily Scrum, sprint review, or sprint retrospective meetings
  • Native Time Tracking: track the time your Agile Scrum projects and individual tasks take
  • Inbox: a complete breakdown of your past, current and upcoming tasks
  • MindMaps: create free form mind maps to visually organize your project ideas 

Conclusion

While Agile and Scrum are both very handy project management methods, they differ slightly.

The right choice between Scrum vs Agile comes down to your project, your team, and your management style. 

However, regardless of the management approach you choose, you’ll need a project management tool to handle your activities.

That’s why ClickUp, which was built for Agile AND Scrum teams, is the perfect tool for you!

 It has everything you need, so why not sign up today and breeze through your projects as reliably as your favorite superheroes breeze through villains!

Join 104,568 subscribers & get new content written by our award winning client success and operations teams!

No sales pitches, no games, and one-click unsubscribe.
Free forever with 100MB storage
Get started
Free training & 24-hour support
Serious about security & privacy
By continuing to use this site you consent to the use of cookies on your device as described in our cookie policy unless you have disabled them. You can change your cookie settings at any time but parts of our site will not function correctly without them.
Accept All Cookies
logo 64x64 transparent bg
Woohoo!
You're on the list. We'll send you an
email as soon as ClickUp is available.
Wrong email?
Sign up for FREE
and start using ClickUp in seconds!
Please enter valid email address