Project management versus Scrum.


Understanding the Key Differences Between Project Management and Scrum

In today’s fast-paced world, the way we approach projects has evolved significantly. Two of the most prominent methodologies are traditional project management and Scrum. While both aim to achieve successful project completion, their approaches are fundamentally different. Let’s dive into these differences, and explore how each method can benefit various types of projects.

The Predictive Nature of Project Management

What is Project Management?

Project management is a traditional approach that involves detailed planning and execution. At the start of a project, requirements are forecasted, and the entire process is managed through a series of gates until the final delivery.

Key Characteristics of Project Management

  1. Predictive Planning: Project management relies heavily on predictive planning. At the outset, all requirements and tasks are laid out, and the project follows a strict plan.
  2. Long Feedback Loops: Since the plan is detailed and fixed, feedback loops are longer. Adjustments are made only at predefined stages, which can delay responses to new information or changes.
  3. Assumption of Complete Knowledge: There is a presumption that all necessary information and requirements are known at the beginning of the project. This can sometimes lead to challenges if unexpected changes arise.

Benefits of Project Management

  • Clear Roadmap: The detailed planning provides a clear roadmap, making it easier to track progress and meet deadlines.
  • Predictability: With a fixed plan, it’s easier to predict outcomes, which can be beneficial for projects with well-defined requirements.
  • Structured Approach: The structured approach ensures that all steps are followed, which can be crucial for compliance and regulatory projects.

Personal Experience with Project Management

In my career, I’ve managed several projects using the traditional project management approach. One notable project was the development of a new software application for a financial institution. The requirements were clear from the beginning, and the structured approach helped us stay on track and meet all regulatory requirements. However, any changes required a formal change request process, which sometimes slowed us down.

The Empirical Approach of Scrum

What is Scrum?

Scrum is an agile framework designed to handle complex projects with evolving requirements. Unlike traditional project management, Scrum is based on empirical processes, using short feedback loops to learn and adjust as the project progresses.

Key Characteristics of Scrum

  1. Empirical Process Control: Scrum is rooted in empirical process control, which means decisions are made based on observation, experience, and experimentation.
  2. Short Feedback Loops: Scrum operates in sprints, typically lasting 2-4 weeks, allowing for frequent feedback and adjustments.
  3. Adaptability: Scrum’s flexibility allows teams to adapt to market feedback and changing requirements quickly.

Benefits of Scrum

  • Rapid Response to Change: The short feedback loops enable teams to respond swiftly to new information and changes, making it ideal for projects with uncertain or evolving requirements.
  • Continuous Improvement: Scrum promotes continuous improvement through regular retrospectives and iterative cycles.
  • Increased Collaboration: The framework encourages collaboration among team members, stakeholders, and customers, fostering a more cohesive and motivated team environment.

Personal Experience with Scrum

I’ve had the pleasure of working on several Scrum projects, including a mobile app development project for a startup. The initial requirements were vague, but Scrum’s flexibility allowed us to iterate quickly based on user feedback. This approach not only helped us deliver a product that met user needs but also built a strong, collaborative team culture.

Comparing Project Management and Scrum

Predictive vs. Empirical

  • Predictive (Project Management): Assumes that all requirements are known at the start and follows a fixed plan.
  • Empirical (Scrum): Recognizes that requirements can evolve and uses a flexible, iterative approach to adapt to changes.

Feedback Loops

  • Project Management: Longer feedback loops, with adjustments made at predefined stages.
  • Scrum: Short feedback loops, with continuous feedback and adjustments throughout the project.


  • Project Management: Less adaptable to changes once the plan is set.
  • Scrum: Highly adaptable, allowing teams to pivot based on new information and feedback.

When to Use Project Management or Scrum

Use Project Management When:

  • The project has well-defined and stable requirements.
  • The project needs a high degree of predictability and structure.
  • Regulatory compliance and documentation are critical.

Use Scrum When:

  • The project involves complex and evolving requirements.
  • Quick adaptation to changes is necessary.
  • Collaboration and continuous improvement are priorities.


Both project management and Scrum have their strengths and are suited to different types of projects. Understanding the fundamental differences between these methodologies can help you choose the right approach for your project.

  • Project Management: Best for projects with clear, stable requirements and a need for predictability.
  • Scrum: Ideal for projects with complex, evolving requirements and a need for flexibility and rapid adaptation.

By leveraging the strengths of each approach, you can optimize your project management strategy to achieve successful outcomes, regardless of the project’s nature.

I hope this blog post has provided valuable insights into the differences between project management and Scrum. Remember, the key to successful project management lies in choosing the right methodology that aligns with your project’s needs and goals.

Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below! Let’s continue the conversation and learn from each other’s experiences. 🚀✨

Connect with Advanced Product Delivery.

APD offer private, tailored training courses as well as business agility and coaching. Our public training courses are delivered by practicing Agilists: Product Owners, Scrum Masters and coaches who are expert trainers and facilitators.

Whether you are looking to become a #scrummaster or #agilecoach, we have a range of internationally certified and recognised #agiletraining courses that are perfect for you. Visit Professional Scrum Training courses for more information.

If you are looking for professional, deeply experienced and skilled #agilecoaches and #agileconsultants to help you transition from traditional #projectmanagement to #agile #productdevelopment, we’ve got the ideal team to help you make that transition a success. Visit our Agile Coaching section to find out more about us.

If you have identified Lean Agile Procurement as a great opportunity to enhance #agility within your organization, visit the Lean Agile Procurement Training course or Lean Agile Procurement coaching page.

#agile #scrum #agilecoach #agileconsultant #agiletraining #agilescrumtraining #scrumtraining #scrumcertification #scrummaster #productowner #leanagileprocurement #apd #businessagility #organizationalagility #productdevelopment #projectmanagement #agileprojectmanagement #agileproductdevelopment

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