Many IT executives wonder whether to use Scrum or DevOps like this was a zero-one problem. But the question that might arise should rather be how to use them together to the greatest advantage. They have everything that it takes to be successfully integrated and adopted into the very same project, as they have a lot in common. There is even the term ScrumOps, reflecting close links between DevOps and Scrum.
However, a belief that they are not inclusive or symbiotic, and can’t be used simultaneously, persists within the IT world. But this opposition is just a legend, as we read on Scrum organization’s website:
"Don’t believe the myth. DevOps and Scrum are not mutually exclusive and can work together to deliver a holistic model for modern IT".
In this article, we will try to spot the major benefits of using them at once, and see what may emerge out of this mix. But before we start, let’s have a closer look at both Scrum and DevOps areas to catch the reasons for some tensions between the two.
Facts and figures behind the DevOps
The DevOps area is a major one, perceived by almost 80% of developers as important to scaling software development, as Stack Overflow’s Developer Survey 2020 indicated. For those who are not familiar with the matter (as dedicated DevOps specialists are present in the companies of only 43.8% of respondents), here’s a brief intro to what DevOps is about.
In short, these are tools but also attitudes and practices combining software development (Dev) with IT operations (Ops). Efficient, reliable, and bringing great effects, DevOps is about automation. Its goal is to make it more effective through cooperation across particular departments. Thanks to it, the company’s resources are to be utilized better.
Anyway, DevOps is trending, and its adoption is on the rise, for sure, being encouraged and accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As The 2021 State of Database DevOps report unveils, as many as 74% of companies adopted DevOps, compared with 47% five years earlier.
Many high-profile brands use DevOps to their great advantage, setting a good example for other businesses. They include such household names as Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, Adobe, as well as Adidas, Disney, and BMW.
Scrum – much ado about nothing?
Agile community and Scrum specialists tend to be, on the other hand, underestimated, and sometimes we can find a kind of resentment towards them. Those skeptical say that Scrum is only a set of procedures and organizational changes that may be demanding while DevOps is easier to apply. Also, to become a Scrum specialist, often you don’t need to be technically educated so Scrum people may be perceived as outsiders.
While 12.1% of respondents identify themselves as DevOps specialists, Scrum Master is a position that has not even been included in the StackOverflow survey. The reason may be that Scrum teams often don’t have a dedicated Scrum Master but work solely with the Product Owner instead.
However, Scrum’s importance and popularity increase fast, and, for example, it was named one of "the most promising jobs of 2019" by LinkedIn, with a 67% rise in the number of job offerings year over year.
Scrum focuses on teams, and a Scrum team (usually comprising of at least 7 members, but should not exceed 10, as smaller teams are better in both communication and productivity) is an agile, cross-functional, and self-managing team that works within short-timed, usually 2-week long iterations (or sprints) that the whole project is divided into to ensure that the progress in reaching the goal is tracked and assessed and that we can trace any drawbacks at an early stage. Scrum Masters often drive the change.
Scrum is a simple and lightweight yet versatile framework for managing complex products or projects. What we fill the Scrum framework with is up to us – Scrum’s agile approach is adopted not only to software development-related issues but also to such areas as sales, marketing, recruitment, and research as well as time management tools for a variety of industries. And DevOps, in turn, is restricted to development. But that does not mean that those two approaches cannot be symbiotic or similar, quite the opposite.
DevOps and Scrum – common features
To underline that they fit together great, and promote the mission of integrated approach, DevOps Institute and Scrum.org have forged a partnership, and, as a result, the ScrumOps term was coined and the whole new model appeared. Dave West, CEO of Scrum.org, stresses how both elements interpenetrate and compliment each other: "It has been forgotten that Agile is at the heart of DevOps and Scrum principles, such as empiricism, transparency, inspection, and adaptation, are at center of DevOps".
Both reflect the fast pace of today’s world and help get a better position or competitive advantage in the race for the best software possible. What we can trace is certainly a common goal, that we may call "delivering value to customers in a more effective way". Scrum and DevOps both are about the lean thinking philosophy that concerns bringing the highest customer value the quickest.
To quote “The Convergence of Scrum and DevOps” whitepaper by Scrum.org’s CEO Dave West and DevOps Institute’s CEO Jayne Groll, which puts it nicely:
"They share much in common: faster delivery cycles, smaller increments (or batches) of releases, using feedback to improve, removing waste and impediments. Their emphasis varies, and this sometimes leads people to believe that they are different things. Agile emphasizes team interactions, culture, and values, while DevOps emphasizes delivery pipelines and flow. But, Agile is also concerned with automation, and DevOps is also concerned with communication and culture".
All in all, we may distinguish the following common features of DevOps and Scrum:
- Agile as one of their principles,
- helping software companies gain competitive advantage,
- being proper for the fast-paced world,
- enabling and encouraging innovations,
- fitting into the lean thinking framework,
- providing faster delivery cycles in smaller batches,
- using feedback for improvements,
- emphasizing automation and communication.
DevOps and Scrum mixed – advantages and benefits
As we have learned in the previous paragraph, utilizing both DevOps and Scrum gives organizations indisputable advantages. Bringing the highest customer value the quickest, encouraging an innovative approach, and helping software companies gain competitive advantage are all high on the list.
It’s good to stress, also, that DevOps and Scrum can and do complement each other.
"ScrumOps can be applied to any IT organization to aid in continuously delivering secure, working software while accurately measuring success ".
Great ideas and enthusiasm are also what bring DevOps and Scrum teams together. Plus, they are both needed for an organization to achieve success.
We associate Scrum with productivity, communication within a team, common values, and DevOps – with the likes of automation, and continuous delivery. There can be good things emerging out of it. As Dave West put it,
"By bringing the Scrum and DevOps communities and ideas together across the IT organization, we end up with a solution that enables IT teams to understand user needs, build, deploy, and secure those systems, manage them over time and keep improving".
– Dave West
West also said that "you can use Scrum for more effective DevOps", and this seems to be the shortest yet the most informative summary of what good Scrum and DevOps may bring together to the software delivery process. But DevOps ideas, technical practices, and input may also be applied by Scrum teams, filling in Scrum’s framework, and increasing the organization’s agility.
Due to cooperation across particular departments, the company’s resources may be utilized better. Outcomes include saving time, cutting costs, and increasing revenue, as well as providing better – safer and more stable – products.
Now, to sum up…
The advantages and benefits of DevOps and Scrum mixed include:
- possibility of being applied in any kind of IT organization,
- enabling continuous delivery of secure software,
- possibility to accurately measure progress,
- encouraging enthusiastic approach and effectiveness,
- working out solutions that help IT teams understand and meet user needs better,
- Scrum makes DevOps more effective, while DevOps makes Scrum teams even more agile,
- saving time, cutting costs, and increasing revenue,
- providing better products.
What do you think about using DevOps and Scrum within the same project or organization? What other benefits can you spot? Why aren’t they used together more often?