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Difference Between Agile, Scrum, Kanban, and Waterfall

Here is the breakdown of most popular software development technologies – Agile vs Scrum vs Kanban vs Waterfall. Let us see which one suits your team the most.

Plenty of efficient project management frameworks and methodologies are introduced over the years that ensure effective collaboration and team management in a workplace. Starting from the waterfall model, multiple approaches are used by software development teams around the world for streamlining work with more control over project flows and deliverables.

There are multiple factors to consider before you decide the right approach for your team and the project. However, few new approaches have also created confusions among the masses regarding the in-depth detail of a particular approach. By understanding the pros and cons of a particular technology you can decide the chances of its adoption..

Here, we will learn basic concepts behind Scrum, Kanban, Agile and Waterfall. Professionals who are new to the project management field may find it difficult to understand and differentiate among these technologies. So, we bring a meaningful discussion here that includes Agile vs Scrum vs Kanban vs Waterfall.

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What is Scrum?

When you are comparing agile and scrum together, it is like comparing apple to fruit. One is the subcategory of other. Scrum is a part of agile frameworks that has taken many industries by storm during the last few years. According to Forbes, Scrum is successful due to its focus on customers. It is a proven approach or methodology for optimized collaboration, helps to deliver projects on time, reduces errors, and has gained immense popularity these days in the world of Agile.

Initially, it was designed to be used by software development teams only. Today, Scrum is developed in such a way that it can handle multiple tasks together like software development, education, healthcare, and a lot more.

The main objective of Scrum is breaking down the work in such a way that it can maximize efficiency and reduce bottlenecks while moving towards project completion and customer satisfaction. The different Scrum roles within an organization include Scrum Master, Product Owner, Scrum Team etc.

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The Scrum team is defined as the set of individuals working on a project, the product owner is the person who is responsible for designing different sections of the workflows and the Scrum Master facilitates both scrum team and the product owner in implementing the established work process.

Scrum framework makes sure that everyone is working in sync with the project deliverables and completely understands the milestones to be achieved. It encourages customer involvement at every stage, sets the project timelines in form of Sprints or we can say Daily Scrums. Each Sprint is given a time period when particular tasks assigned by Product Owners should be completed. The average time span for a Sprint is 7 days to one month or may also depend on the client requirements.

A few development teams focus more on daily scrums, stand-up meetings among the team members, product owner, scrum master, customers, and management etc. It helps to evaluate tasks completed on daily basis with hindrances and potential risks.

The concept of setting milestones with assigned roles and the defined time period is aimed at having a better rate of project completion through a transparent workflow and different monitoring techniques. Customer satisfaction is also given the utmost priority by encouraging their involvement throughout the project development life cycle. Also, the potential pitfalls are addressed early that leads to excellent cost management and the issue management.

What is Kanban?

Kanban has revolutionized the automotive industry and it has a significant impact on various other sectors too including software, IT operations, and even marketing etc. It is yet another one of the popular agile frameworks designed to make project life cycle more streamlined and increases effective team collaboration through continuous improvements and ease in change management. As with scrum, comparing agile and Kanban is not reasonable since Kanban is subcategory of the agile framework.

When it comes to Scrum vs Kanban, Scrum happens to be the winner out of two. This is because Scrum aims at effective planning right from the beginning of a project and Kanban focuses more on continuous improvement through incremental modifications within a defined work environment. Apart from this, practitioners from 27 organizations perceived Kanban as easy to learn the framework and useful in teamwork.

The complete Kanban system revolves around a central Kanban board that is used by organizations to prioritize the work tasks. With the help of Kanban dashboard, you may exhibit each element within a workflow for progress, testing, release etc. Also, the team may check work in progress, blocked content, completed content, to-do list, and a lot more.

It makes everyone to stay open to changes and easily implement them when the transition is required. If work is in progress state then new work is allowed to categorize in that state. It compels the team to complete the pending work first before addressing new entities.

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Again, when we compare two frameworks in terms of roles then Scrum has a defined set of roles for each purpose while Kanban does not specify any role. It is more focused on improving the project workflow and the overall quality of a product at the team-level.

The Kanban board can be modified by anyone in the team as long as it specifies the work entities. It means there is no single person to make sure that team is aligned and working well together to achieve the goal.

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What is Agile?

According to research by PMI (Project Management Institute), more than 70 percent of total organizations use Agile approaches. Agile is a popular software development methodology that helps the team to collaborate to find solutions through continuous evolution. It also incorporates policies to carry out better planning, development, and timely deliveries by team members. Also, you will be prepared for sudden changes and able to respond quickly. A few popular agile frameworks are listed below.

Top Agile frameworks

  • Scrum,
  • Kanban,
  • Scrumban (A mix of Scrum and Kanban),
  • Extreme Programming (XP),
  • Adaptive software development (ASD),
  • Agile Modelling,
  • Agile Unified Process (AUP),
  • Disciplined Agile Delivery,
  • Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM),
  • Feature-driven development (FDD),
  • Lean software development, and
  • Rapid application development (RAD)

When it comes to Agile vs Scrum vs Kanban vs Waterfall, Agile has gained immense popularity over other platforms. The core methodology behind Agile framework is that project is broken down into sections as user stories, then they are organized and prioritized before successive delivery in cycles called iterations. Here are the core principles of the Agile Manifesto framework that are designed to make software development more efficient and result-oriented.

  • Customer satisfaction and continuous delivery of valuable software program.
  • The changes requirements are welcomed even in the early stages of development.
  • Working modules are release frequently either weekly or monthly.
  • Daily cooperation among client and developers is accomplished.
  • The project is built around motivated individuals that can be trusted.
  • There is sustainable development can be achieved at a constant pace.
  • More focus is given to the technical excellence and good design.
  • Simplicity is essential so that work can be completed with ease and speed.
  • Teams become more aligned and self-organized when they work together to achieve a single objective.
  • The team may reflect regularly on how to become more effective and adjusts accordingly.

This is clear from the discussion that Agile framework focuses more on individuals and interactions over processes or tools, working modules over comprehensive documents, quick response to change over following a plan, customer collaboration over contract negotiation.

With the Agile framework, a quality product is delivered incrementally instead of pulling all necessary activities in one go. It helps to maintain or track the project progress and leaving enough space for focusing on different software development elements from starting to the end. The Agile framework works for non-IT projects too in the same way.

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What is Waterfall Approach?

Instead of comparing waterfall with Kanban or Scrum, let us see how it is different from Agile scenario. The Waterfall is the most traditional software development approach used by software developers from years. It is also referred to as the linear-sequential life cycle model too. It was the first process model to be introduced. The model was structured significantly and it was not adaptable to changes easily.

In the case of the waterfall model, tasks should be completed in sequence before the next stage is started. It simply avoids the overlapping of different project stages and designed to work in a single direction only. The different stages of waterfall model include initiation, analysis, design, construction, testing, deployment, and maintenance.

With the waterfall model, it is easy to check the entire scope and progress of the project that results in effective synchronization among developers and clients. The drawback is that it does not allow much room for revisions or alterations.

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Due to its flexibility and change management capabilities, the Agile approach is the most reliable software development methodology. Also, Agile projects are always more successful, and chances of failures are large in case of other software development methodologies.

Which approach is liked by your team or organization the most and why? Share your stories with us in the comments section below.


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