Scrum and Agile Methodology

What Do You Need to Know?

So many questions swirl around terms like Agile and Scrum and Agile Methodology that it leaves many interested potential Agile Practitioners in a state of stupefied confusion, feeling lost and wanting to scream and run away. But that shouldn’t be the case. There are rather simple and direct differences and connections between titles like Scrum Master and Agile Practitioner, between terms like Agile Project Management, the Agile Manifesto, the Scrum Alliance, the Scrum Methodology and Agile Development.

Our objective here is to answer questions like, “What is Agile?” “What is the Agile Methodology?” and “What is Scrum?” We will attempt to give you information that is easy to understand, cogent and useful. Our hope is that you will share this with coworkers, friends and other interested people so that we can all benefit from better collaboration and knowledge sharing.

What is Agile? Agile is a category or genre of ideas, concepts and practices that share a lineage springing out of Lean Principles as developed in the Toyota Production System and codified in various ways in bodies of knowledge like Lean Principles, Six Sigma, and Total Quality Management. Because Scrum was an early, and highly successful, expression of these ideas in the software and high-tech industries many people use Scrum and Agile as interchangeable synonyms, much like we say Kleenex when we mean facial tissue.

What is the Agile Methodology? The Agile Methodology encompasses the Frameworks that are known as the “Big 5,”including Scrum, eXtreme Programming (XP), Lean Software Development, Kanban, and Hybrid, that have become widely practiced since the Agile Manifesto and the “12 Principles” were published in 2001.

What is Scrum? Scrum is the Framework created, and owned, by the Scrum Alliance that was formed as the custodian of the Agile Manifesto and the 12 Principles in 2001. The Scrum Guide, which is endorsed and accepted by the Scrum Alliance is actually developed and sustained by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, original signers of the Agile Manifesto and co-founders of the Scrum Alliance. The Scrum Framework defined the titles and roles of people using its approach. Those roles include the Product Owner, the Scrum Master and the Development Team. Someone who has received training in a Scrum Alliance authorized class is referred to as a Certified Scrum Master, or CSM, a title trademarked by the Scrum Alliance.

When Scrum is being used as the development approach it is common for a Scrum Board to be used to share, manage and track the various work elements, usually documented as User Stories, as they pass through the development process. At the starting end of the development process the entire collection of work elements are grouped in the Product Backlog, then subsets are selected to processed in work-period time-buckets call Sprints and moved to the right into and through the various columns on the board that represent the steps in the development process.

The Traditional, commonly called Waterfall, Methodology existed before the Agile Methodology. The best-known Frameworks in the Traditional category are the Project Management Institute, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide) - Sixth Edition, Project Management Institute, Inc. 2017, Prince2, and APM. Because the Traditional Frameworks have generally been recognized as project management approaches when they integrate Agile or Scrum or similar practices they refer to it as Agile Project Management. They can be used for Agile development of both tangible and intangible products. But because they are owned by the Project Management Institute or other governing bodies that compete with the Scrum Alliance they cannot rightly be called a Scrum methodology.  

Agile software development has been a hotbed for using and experimenting and improving Agile models and Agile methodologies. It has also been an active arena for the development of Agile testing principles and practices like test-driven development (TDD).  

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