Agile vs. Scrum

Agile and Scrum are two popular terms for product development. It’s likely that regardless of whether you are experienced or new to software development, you are familiar with these two terms. While the two share some similarities in the way they approach project management, there are also key differences between the two. 

The main difference between Scrum and Agile is that Agile is a philosophy based on values and principles, while Scrum is one of several different methods used to implement those principles.

In this article, we will explore Agile vs. Scrum and the key similarities and differences.

What is Agile?

Agile Methodology outlines principles and frameworks that aim to guide teams towards the completion of a project. It is a collaborative and flexible approach that teams adopt to help them accomplish tasks more efficiently and deliver high quality results. 

Agile is a way of managing projects by breaking them up into short iterations. The emphasis is on providing increment builds of working products rather than one significant one. This allows teams to remain flexible enough to make changes as needed. 

Four values drive Agile Philosophy, including:

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  4. Responding to change over following a plan

[You can find out more about Agile Methodology and Frameworks in our article here and more about Agile Values and Principles, including the 12 Agile Principles here.]

What is Scrum?

Scrum Project Management is one of the most popular methodologies used by teams and Project Managers. It is when a small team works in collaboration, facilitated by a Scrum Master whose main responsibility is to eliminate any obstacles which might impact the team’s ability to complete the work. The team also includes a Product Owner and the Development Team.

During Scrum Methodology, work is completed in short cycles which are known as “Sprints”. At the end of each sprint, work should be ready to be delivered to the customer. This cycle is repeated throughout the project lifecycle until the entirety of the scope has been delivered.

Scrum is built on three pillars:

  1. Transparency
  2. Adaptation
  3. Inspection

And five values:

  1. Courage
  2. Focus
  3. Commitment
  4. Respect
  5. Openness

[You can find out more about Scrum in our article here.]

What is the differences between Agile and Scrum?

At a glance, Agile and Scrum may appear similar and can often be confused with one and other. They both rely on an iterative process, frequent stakeholder communication and feedback, and a collaborative approach. The key difference between Agile vs. Scrum is that Agile is a philosophy of managing projects based on a core set of principles and values, while Scrum is an Agile Methodology based on those principles. 

Scrum is an Agile process which focuses on delivering value in the shortest possible time frame, on the other hand, Agile is a continuous iteration of development and testing. 

While they both involve incremental builds, there are key elements that make them different. Scrum is a more rigid method with less flexibility and is often most suited to organisations that want to produce results in the shortest time frames possible. Agile, on the other hand, is ideal for smaller teams who prefer straightforward design and execution. 

A simple way to understand the difference is that Scrum is always Agile, but Agile is not always Scrum. In other words, Scrum includes the same methodologies as Agile, but Agile does not always share the same qualities as Scrum.

Choosing the Right Project Methodology

Once the differences between Agile vs. Scrum are understood, it is important to consider which methodology or methodologies are right for your project. However, this shouldn’t be a choice between either an Agile or a Scrum approach, but rather which Agile methodology should be used. 

Choosing Scrum inevitably means that you’ll be using Agile principles, since Agile is an umbrella philosophy. Scrum is also widely practised and can be a good way to start implementing Agile with your team. There are different Agile methods such as Kanban and XP which are also widely used.


In summary, the key difference between Agile and Scrum is that Agile is a philosophy, while Scrum is a proven methodology. The two approaches have many similarities but equally, they have differences that are important to understand. 

It is also worth remembering that the key to a successful project isn’t just about selecting the right methodology, but the focus should be on executing it well.