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Agile: so much more than Scrum

Scrum is a very successful agile methodology that’s been used deliver some great projects. But Scrum is just one of many approaches to agile project management.

I believe the popularity of Scrum comes from its well-defined structure. Scrum comes with specific terminology, roles, working practices and certification. These make it an easy choice when an organisation recognises their current practices aren’t working and decide to try an agile approach. As a prescriptive process, implementation is simply a case of following a step-by-step guide.

From a marketing and branding perspective, Scrum has done a fantastic job. Terms such as product owner, sprint and the daily scrum have entered the general vocabulary of many business leaders involved with knowledge-based work.

In fact, Scrum has become a synonym for agile in many people’s minds.

The problem with popularity

Scrum is an agile product development framework. Read that last sentence carefully: Scrum is for product development. If you’re producing a software product – such as Facebook, Amazon or the BBC iPlayer – Scrum can be an excellent choice. This is consistent with the latest State of Scrum report.

But if your team is working with multiple clients and projects, as is the case with digital agencies, Scrum is the wrong tool for the job.

In the search to find a better approach for managing their projects many agencies have tried Scrum – and then branded themselves as ‘agile’. This has led to Scrum being incorrectly interpreted as the sum total of agile project management, as evidenced at the recent Digital PM Summit.

And because Scrum isn’t a great fit for agency work, many agencies and clients have had poor experiences that they then associate with agile project management as a whole.

Agile for agencies

Agile project management addresses the shortcomings of traditional approaches and in my opinion you’re crazy to try and manage digital projects any other way. Traditional methods start off OK but quickly deteriorate as projects progress. They simply can’t cope with the changing nature of knowledge-based work.

Scrum is only one approach to agile project management. Other tools include extreme programming (XP), test-driven development (TDD), behaviour-driven development (BDD), feature-driven development (FDD), lean, theory of constraints (TOC), Kanban – and the list keeps growing as best practice continuously evolves.

From my agency experience – where I’ve used various approaches including Scrum – I’ve found feature-driven development managed with Kanban to be a great fit.

Every organisation is unique so you need to experiment and find the agile approach that’s best suited to your business. My passion is process and making knowledge-based businesses a success. If you think my experience could help take your company to the next level please get in touch.


Derived from Sit omnibus notum © 2008 Gerard Romans Camps. Licenced under CC BY 2.0.