Skip to main content

What is the difference between Scrum and RUP?

When I present Scrum to customers, I often hear, "yes but we do RUP, that's iterative, so it's Agile, right?"

I spent some time looking at "Project Management with Rational Unified Process" by Gerhard Vergsteen (in original German) and "Projektmanager", published by the German Society for Project Management. Two thoughts:
  1. The RUP Book got to chapter 3 before it even mentioned people. Then it spent the rest of the book telling "Workers" how to do their jobs in very minute detail. (And yes, even within the iterations, the waterfall lives.)
  2. I looked for the word "Responsibility" (Verwantwortung) in the index of both books. I didn't find it.
I just gave a presentation on Scrum to a group of potential customers in the public sector, one of whom believed quite strongly that good people make good product managers, regardless of the methodology. He's absolutely right on one point. People make projects succeed, not methodologies. And a bad project leader can screw up a project under any methodology.

But Scrum emphasizes people and their responsibilities & committments to each other. It doesn't tell them what to do, but ensures procedurally that if everyone plays by the rules, all the necessary information will become available as quickly as possible so people can do their jobs optimally.

I am now a much better project leader thanks to Scrum. Scrum helped me discover my capabilities.

So I believe methodology and frameworks do make a difference and that Scrum brings out the best in the people on the project.

Update: May 28:
Some futher thoughts on the differences between Scrum and RUP, check out Rational Scrum. I am starting to think that the combination of Lean, Scrum and XP offers the top to bottom framework analagous to RUP, but in an agile context.


Anonymous said…
This is what I tell anyone who asks about the best methodology: "The best one is the one that works for your company in your situation". Anyone who says otherwise is trying to sell you something.

e.g. In an fast paced company (say a .com) where time of delivery determines if you live or die your points for Scrum are well taken. However not "everyone plays by the rules" so in say pharma, nuclear, defense, there needs to be a more risk based and controlled approach. In those cases RUP has advantages over Scrum.
Peter said…
Hi Anon,

I agree with you that not all projects are suitable for Scrum. I also agree that belief in and passion for what you're doing are essential for success.

So if you deeply believe that RUP is the right method for you and your situation, I will be the first to tell you that you should do RUP.

Having said that, I now have customers in 2 of the 3 fields that you mentioned. Early returns are quite positive. So am I wondering, what are the advantages? And why can't you integrate them into Scrum?


Popular posts from this blog

Sample Definition of Done

Why does Scrum have a Definition of Done? Simple, everyone involved in the project needs to know and understand what Done means. Furthermore, Done should be really done, as in, 'there is nothing stopping us from earning value with this function, except maybe the go-ahead from the Product Owner. Consider the alternative:
Project Manager: Is this function done?
Developer: Yes
Project Manager: So we can ship it?
Developer: Well, No. It needs to be tested, and I need to write some documentation, but the code works, really. I tested it... (pause) ...on my machine. What's wrong with this exchange? To the developer and to the project manager, "done" means something rather different. To the developer in this case, done means: "I don't have to work on this piece of code any more (unless the tester tells me something is wrong)." The project leader is looking for a statement that the code is ready to ship.

At its most basic level, a definition of Done creates a sh…

Explaining Story Points to Management

During the February Scrum Breakfast in Zurich, the question arised, "How do I explain Story Points to Management?" A good question, and in all honesty, developers can be an even more critical audience than managers.

Traditional estimates attempt to answer the question, "how long will it take to develop X?" I could ask you a similar question, "How long does it take to get the nearest train station?

The answer, measured in time, depends on two things, the distance and the speed. Depending on whether I plan to go by car, by foot, by bicycle or (my personal favorite for short distances) trottinette, the answer can vary dramatically. So it is with software development. The productivity of a developer can vary dramatically, both as a function of innate ability and whether the task at hand plays to his strong points, so the time to produce a piece of software can vary dramatically. But the complexity of the problem doesn't depend on the person solving it, just …

Money for Nothing, Changes for Free

“Money for Nothing, Changes for Free” encourages both customers and suppliers to focus on value.

A key advantage of Scrum projects is that at least once per sprint you have something that could be shipped and no work in progress. You can change direction every sprint, and you can reevaluate whether the project is a good investment or if your money could be better spent elsewhere. Abrupt cancellation is risky for the supplier.

While the concept of an early-exit penalty is not new, Jeff Sutherland gave it a unique allure with his allusion to the Dire Straits hit.
Desired Benefit Incentivize both customers and suppliers to focus on functionality that provides genuine value.
Structure This works with Agile software projects because there is little or no work in progress. After each Sprint, functionality is either complete or not started. Work is basically on a Time and Materials basis with a cost target, often with the intention that the project should not use up the entire project budge…