Why Is Scrum So Popular?

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I have wondered why Scrum is mentioned more often by developers than any other form of agile development methodology. You might occasionally hear of extreme programming (XP), feature-driven development (FDD), and a host of others, but none more than Scrum. I wanted to find out why; what’s so special about Scrum that makes it the people’s obvious choice?

To find out why, I first typed the following into Google: Why did Scrum methodology win? The first article answers that question, explaining that Scrum wins due to simplicity. Another reason the article mentions is certification, and one has to agree Scrum has a variety of different certifications—certified ScrumMaster, certified product owners, certified developers, etc.

With this premise, is Scrum really the easiest or simplest to implement? Let’s look at the argument of XP vs. Scrum. There are several websites that compare and contrast the two methodologies. After further investigation I think the real reason that XP has failed is pair programming. Not all XP projects have it, but it is a problem; having two developers on one workstation has to be a hard sell. Granted it helps junior developers receive mentorship from senior developers, but it simply isn’t cost effective for most organizations.

Not everyone agrees with my assessment, though, as this article from the Wall Street Journal points out. However, some—including techcrunch.com, which considers XP harmfuldo agree with me.

After searching for more answers, I came upon a forum post that asked a simple question: Is there a difference between Scrum and agile methodology? Of course Scrum is an agile methodology, but a responder replied and compared it to project management. This led me to think that Scrum is really a project management methodology rather than a development methodology.

With this knowledge in hand I submitted my final question to Google: Is Scrum a project management tool? Of course, I was disappointed by the results. My question was left unnanswered, so I instead asked another question: Is a ScrumMaster a project manager? The ScrumAlliance.org says no while StackExchange.com says maybe they are one in the same.

To sum this up, Scrum has won for a variety of reasons; I think the first article clearly spells that out. As you dig deeper, I think it gets more muddled.

The question becomes this: Do you think Scrum deserved to win? Why or why not?

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Joe Townsend

Joe Townsend has been in the configuration management field for twelve years. He has worked for CNA Life Insurance, RCA, Boeing, UPS, and in state government. Joe has primarily worked with Serena tools, including PVCS Version Manager, Tracker, TeamTrack (Mashups), and Dimensions. He is an administrator for WebFocus and supports Eclipse users.