Can Scrum be considered a SDLC?

Last post 03:50 pm July 22, 2019
by Steve Vb
15 replies
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02:37 am July 17, 2019

I am assuming that Scrum can be considered a SDLC, however I just wanted to confirm if that is the same view everyone else has?

On a side note, would you consider Agile as a model, framework, SDLC or methodology?

05:39 am July 17, 2019

Hi Steve,

SDCL is a process

Agile is a methodology

Scrum is a framework

11:40 am July 17, 2019

Scrum can not be considered to be an SDLC. An SDLC has a number of different activities. There are different ways to divide an SDLC, but they tend to consist of the same types of things - initiating an effort, developing a concept, planning, eliciting and analyzing needs and requirements, design, development, integration and test, implementation, operation and maintenance, and disposition. Scrum provides a framework for some of these activities - some types of planning, design, development, integration and test, and implementation. However, Scrum does not address initiating a project, some of the early planning activities, concept development, operation and maintenance, and disposition.

Agile is neither a model, a framework, an SDLC, or a methodology. The way that I think about it is that at the lowest level of detail, a framework or a model provides some level of structure. Scrum is a framework because it provides guidance and a minimal set of rules. It is not prescriptive in that it does not tell you how to go about doing the work, but does provide a set of things that you must do. A methodology is more prescriptive approach. An SDLC or PDLC (Product Development Life Cycle or Product Delivery Life Cycle) is a team's or organization's instantiation of a model, framework, or tailored methodology for how they deliver a system or product or service.

Something that is critically important to realize is that the term SDLC does not imply waterfall. Different SDLC models place the different SDLC activities in different orders. Scrum organizes the activities that it covers iteratively and incrementally. You could order them sequentially (waterfall), incrementally (many small waterfalls), iteratively within or across subsets of activities, or any number of ways.

03:50 pm July 17, 2019

Scrum can not be considered to be an SDLC.

@Thomas Owens, Why not? I checked the definition of SDLC from multiple sources online and it seems that the description fits. In some places I've also read that SDLC is a framework.

What according to you is the definition of SDLC?

04:06 pm July 17, 2019

I would recommend starting with the definition of SDLC on Wikipedia. It's not perfect, and there are some things that can probably be debated, but I've found that it's generally been a very good primer on what an SDLC is.

Scrum is not an SDLC because it does not cover all of the generally accepted things that are part of an SDLC. There are no mention of common initiation or inception activities such as forming a team or identifying an initial scope or how the work will be funded. There are also no mentions in Scrum of planning releases, verification and validation strategies, or deployment. There are also no mentions of decommissioning a system. Unless you can address how these things are done, you don't have a meaningful SDLC.

07:09 am July 18, 2019

I agree Thomas 👍🏼

02:45 pm July 19, 2019

Hi Steve,

SDCL is a process

Agile is a methodology

Scrum is a framework

um...... No. Agile is a Mindset. Methodology should never be used to relate to Agile, Scrum, Kanban, etc etc.

04:00 pm July 19, 2019

um...... No. Agile is a Mindset. Methodology should never be used to relate to Agile, Scrum, Kanban, etc etc.

Curtis I didn't use the term "Methodology" to relate to Scrum or Kanban of which you infer, which are frameworks. The question was

would you consider Agile as a model, framework, SDLC or methodology?

Given a choice of the 4, I chose methodology, out of the 4 which would you choose?

Although I do agree its more of a philosophy, governed by values and principle.

12:53 am July 20, 2019

Scrum is not an SDLC because it does not cover all of the generally accepted things that are part of an SDLC. There are no mention of common initiation or inception activities such as forming a team or identifying an initial scope or how the work will be funded. There are also no mentions in Scrum of planning releases, verification and validation strategies, or deployment. There are also no mentions of decommissioning a system. Unless you can address how these things are done, you don't have a meaningful SDLC.

@Thomas Owens, Can a Sprint be considered as a Project with the goal to deliver a Minimum Viable Product? Can a project have the elements of a SDLC?

01:52 am July 20, 2019

Can a Sprint be considered as a Project with the goal to deliver a Minimum Viable Product? Can a project have the elements of a SDLC?

Yes, a Sprint can be considered a project. The Scrum Guide even states this. But this does not mean that Scrum contains all of the necessary information to implement an SDLC for a product or service as it does not address how to perform some of the lifecycle events for the product or service.

12:08 pm July 20, 2019

@Thomas Owens, These are the phases of a SDLC in general:

  • Requirement gathering and analysis.
  • Design.
  • Implementation or coding.
  • Testing.
  • Deployment.
  • Maintenance.

I believe Scrum addresses all of these. 

01:55 pm July 20, 2019

@Thomas Owens, These are the phases of a SDLC in general:

  • Requirement gathering and analysis.
  • Design.
  • Implementation or coding.
  • Testing.
  • Deployment.
  • Maintenance.

That is incomplete, as I have mentioned before. I presented a Wikipedia article that gives a good overview of what different people consider to be an SDLC, which includes the list that you mention plus two additional activities - an initiation activity and a disposition activity.

If you are working in a regulated industry, chances are you won't be referring to that Wikipedia article, but rather ISO/IEC 12207. If you are in an organization that is undergoing audit, you will likely be expected to demonstrate how you manage the life cycle activities defined here. There are a huge number of life cycle activities - over 40 of them, in the 2008 release of this standard. Many are covered by Scrum, but several are not - acquisition and supplier management, infrastructure management, human resource management, configuration management, asset reuse, operation, maintenance, and disposal.

I am not aware of any widely accepted definition of the SDLC that would be entirely covered by the material that is in the Scrum Guide. Even if you supplemented the Scrum practices with Extreme Programming practices, you still would not have total coverage of the life cycle activities defined in ISO/IEC/IEEE 12207, and this is probably one of the most widely used formalized definitions of the SDLC in the context of software engineering.

02:16 pm July 20, 2019

Can Scrum be considered a SDLC?

Almost certainly. People can, and do, constrain their understanding of the Scrum Framework in all sorts of ways. I’d question how useful this tends to be.

05:12 pm July 20, 2019

@Ian Mitchell, my understanding of SDLC have been wrong. Is Agile or Waterfall not considered a SDLC? As I was discussing with @Thomas Owen, I’ve read somewhere that SDLC is a framework. 

In fact, certain words have been used interchangeably in several ways places, I’ve heard scrum methodology, agile methodology etc

I am actually trying to find solid reasons and evidence to explain to certain executives why Scrum is not a SDLC

12:31 pm July 22, 2019

I am actually trying to find solid reasons and evidence to explain to certain executives why Scrum is not a SDLC

At the risk of asking an obvious question... Why? What problem are you trying to address by arguing that proposition?

03:50 pm July 22, 2019

At the risk of asking an obvious question... Why? What problem are you trying to address by arguing that proposition?

They just aren't comfortable of not using the word Scrum by itself. That's how rigid they are. I was hoping to get a stronger understanding of why Scrum can't be called a SDLC and be able to point out some glaring differences.