What is the Difference Between DevOps and Scrum?



By Brian Vanderjack

Illinois, USA



As a professor in the graduate program at Illinois Institute of Technology, in the Information Technology Management department, I teach Information Technology (IT) team leadership, mainly via scrum and waterfall. During class discussion last semester, one of my top students asked, “What the difference was between Scrum and DevOps?” This article will capture the answer that I provided to this student and will answer this question for others who have the same question. The outline I will use to address this question is:

  • What Agile is (and what it has to do with Scrum and DevOps);
  • What Scrum is;
  • What DevOps is; and
  • What the difference is between DevOps and Scrum.

This is an important discussion become Scrum is now recognized as a significant contributor to success in the IT space and DevOps is becoming a key component of adding business value in the IT industry. Having IT people read this article could introduce them for the first time to DevOps and Scrum, encouraging even more organizations to employ Scrum and DevOps as competitive weapons in the marketplace.

 What is Agile, and what does it have to do with Scrum and DevOps?

“Agile is credited for ‘dramatically’ increasing the productivity of many (software) development organizations” (Kim, Humble, & Willis, 2016, p. 5). The seminal document that defines the Agile movement, quoted below in its entirety, is hosted on the website AgileManifesto.org (2001):

Manifesto for Agile Software Development

We are uncovering better ways of developing
software by doing it and helping others do it.
Through this work we have come to value:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on
the right, we value the items on the left more.

(authors) Kent Beck, Mike Beedle, Arie van Bennekum,
Alistair Cockburn, Ward Cunningham, Martin Fowler,
James Grenning, Jim Highsmith, Andrew Hunt, Ron Jeffries,
Jon Kern, Brian Marick, Robert C. Martin, Steve Mellor,
Ken Schwaber, Jeff Sutherland, and Dave Thomas

There are a few development methodologies used in IT to achieve the above standards, and Scrum is one of these methodologies.

On the next web page of the Agile Manifesto, there are 12 “principles.” One of these principles opened the door for “DevOps,” which aims to “Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale” (Beck et al., 2001). I have underscored the words in the relevant principle (above) that can be considered to have launched the DevOps movement.

So, what can you tell me about scrum?


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How to cite this article: Vanderjack, B. (2019).  What is the Difference Between DevOps and Scrum? PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue VII, August. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/pmwj84-Aug2019-Vanderjack-what-is-difference-between-devops-and-scrum.pdf



About the Author

Brian Vanderjack

Illinois, USA




Brian Vanderjack, PMP, MBA, PMI-ACP, CSM is a graduate level adjunct faculty member at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), a top 100 University in the USA.  For IIT he is a professor of Information Technology Team Leadership (mainly using Scrum and Project Management).  In 2019, he was awarded Adjunct Faculty of the year from his department.  He was a contributing subject matter expert for the creation of AT&T’s class on How to Pass PMI’s Agile Certified Practitioner certification exam; this class has a 100% pass rate.  He has also taught many classes on how-to-pass-the-PMI-PMP-certification-exam.

Brian’s professional certifications are: The Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Project Management Professional (PMP), MBA (earned from DePaul University “with distinction”), Certified Scrum Master (CSM), and PMI’s-Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP). Brian’s title at the Fortune 10 company which currently employs him during the days as his full-time-day-career is “Senior Scrum Master.”  His track record of success there includes 8 years as a successful Sr. Scrum Master and Agile Coach.  Also, he served as a Project Manager for over 10 years at this Fortune 10 company.

As an award-winning nationally respected speaker, he has spoken at many venues including Microsoft, IBM, AT&T, Abbot Labs, Freddie Mac, IIBA Chapters, and many PMI chapters across the USA on team leadership, communication, emotional intelligence, Scrum, and Project Management.  He has also spoken at the University of Chicago’s Booth Graduate School of Business and Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Business.

His ability to share information has resulted in many articles published in the PM World Journal (distribution approx. 15,000), and a book on Agile/Scrum called “The Agile Edge” which was published by Business Expert Press.  He is honored to have received over 1,000 Linkedin “endorsements”, and dozens of LinkedIn “recommendations” for his contributions in leadership and other areas.  At his former university, he was honored to have earned “faculty of the year” for teaching Project Management.

Also, a special thank you to Jeremy Hajek for providing feedback on this article.  Brian can be reached at BVanderjac@gmail.com.