Project management is a complex task, and the search for methods to facilitate it has been a constant in recent decades. Especially the big technology companies have had to find the most appropriate way to face large-scale projects. The quality of the final product can be guaranteed, and haste is a fundamental factor.
How to handle all this? Various approaches have tried to find the perfect solution, and undoubtedly two of the most popular are Agile and Scrum. These are two approaches with many points in common, although, in reality, they are two different concepts.
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What Are Agile And Scrum?
Agile is the concept, and Scrum is the application. We could say that these are two sides of the same coin: one outlines how things should be done, the other provides the specific methodology to carry out a project.
In both cases, the fundamental idea is to ‘chop’ a project into smaller parts that can be completed and checked, with feedback from clients or users, to reach a final delivery that fits what was being sought. It is, therefore, an approach in which flexibility and constant adjustment are fundamental, far from the more rigorous methods of the past.
The Birth Of The Agile And Scrum Idea
The big software companies were the first to detect that the traditional way of working, in which the client did not receive the product until it was completed, was prolonged. And, in addition, it could end more often than expected in delivery with errors of poor quality or that did not adapt precisely to what was expected.
In 2001, the CEOs of several of these large companies met in Utah to talk about software development techniques and processes, and from that meeting came the Agile Manifesto, which includes four big ideas:
- Valuing individuals and their interactions more than processes and tools
- Loving the working product more than exhaustive documentation
- Value collaboration with the client more than contractual negotiation
- Value the response to change more than following a plan
What Is Agile?
The Agile approach was developed from these bases, which seeks to manage projects quickly, efficiently, with flexibility, and with greater productivity than that achieved with previous methods.
“Agile is fundamentally a project management philosophy based on specific values and principles. We must think of Agile, more broadly, as the guide that guides us when approaching a project”, in the words of Joseph Griffin, professor of the Master’s in Project Management at Northeastern University.
One of the main bases of Agile is the need to have the client’s involvement throughout the entire process, to verify that the results that are obtained fit with the expectations set, and to be able to adapt the necessary changes to achieve it. Whatever the initial approach, an Agile approach must be broad enough to evolve based on the feedback received.
Only in this way is it possible to adapt to changing priorities faster and faster. And for this, it is necessary to create multidisciplinary teams with professionals of diverse profiles who work together and complement each other to improve continuously.
Agile is a somewhat abstract approach. And to implement it, you have to resort to some specific methodology, and Scrum is one of the most used.
What Is Scrum?
“Agile is the philosophy or orientation, and Scrum is a specific methodology for managing a project,” explains Joseph Griffin. “It provides a process for identifying the work that needs to be done, who needs to do it, how it will be done, and when it will be done.”
In other words, Scrum is one of the most common and longest-running Agile methodologies.
Scrum is based on the fragmentation of a project into various tasks, which must be carried out in short phrases, and multidisciplinary teams participate.
In the Scrum methodology, each project’s team is made up of multidisciplinary professionals who work together, from technicians to marketing, to give an example. The objective is to really adapt to what the client or the market demands and to achieve, together, that the project progresses as quickly as possible.
Each of these work teams must have two specific profiles: a Product Owner, who is responsible for maximizing the product’s value, and a Scrum Master, who is in charge of ensuring that the entire project team follows the Scrum methodology.
The Scrum methodology is characterized by working in short phases, known as sprints, throughout the project. During the planning of each sprint, the project team identifies a piece of work that must be completed during that period, which is typically two to four weeks in length.
In addition, regular meetings are held (daily or weekly, for example). Each member must explain what tasks they have carried out, what they have pending, and if they have encountered many obstacles that prevent them from moving forward.
The objective of working by sprints is to make quick deliveries to the client of the parts of the project that are being completed. Therefore, at the end of each sprint, that piece of work should be ready to show to the customer. And in addition, what has been done in that time is analyzed to learn from possible errors and avoid them in the following phases.
This cycle is repeated throughout the project’s life until the entire job is completed and delivered to the customer.
The most differentiating fact of Agile and Scrum concerning other project management methodologies is the creation of work packages that can be delivered without waiting for the end. In this way, the client can assess the result throughout the process -and provide their observations- instead of receiving a project that has already been completed. Continuous learning and collaboration by all parties involved is the key to the success of Agile and Scrum.
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