Developing products with agility requires implementing agile frameworks. While scrum is the first name that strikes your mind regarding on-time deliveries, there’s another agile methodology called the Spotify model. However, this also opens the doors to a debate about the scrum vs. Spotify model. 

It all began when Spotify couldn’t manage its operations and teams through the scrum. And since the company was growing like a fine wine, having a new approach for successful project deliveries was the need of an hour.

The wish came true when the term “Spotify model” came into the limelight after Anders Ivarsson and Henrik Kniberg’s published a whitepaper in 2012. It helped Spotify and several other organizations adopt this model, and the results were fruitful.

But why have companies switched from the Spotify model back to scrum even though many professionals have adored it? Does the Spotify agile model perform better with organizing teams than the scrum framework? And most importantly, which approach should you choose to get high-quality products without losing time?

Here’s the article to clear all your doubts!

Scrum vs. Spotify model – understanding the core concept

Scrum is a prominent framework that allows teams to work together to attain common goals. It comprises a systematic structure to complete projects by helping teams adopt the right practices. Scrum helps companies develop high-value products in a specified time frame since it is based on different roles, tools, and meetings.

The Spotify model focuses on autonomy to enhance teams’ productivity. The model uses a 100% people-driven approach but is still not a framework.

The primary difference between the scrum vs. Spotify model is “focus.” The scrum framework for teams emphasizes using specific practices to ensure the company, team members, and stakeholders are all on the same page to develop winning products.

At the same time, the Spotify model’s center of attention is limited to organizing teams. Unlike scrum, the Spotify model lacks formal roles and planning to complete tasks. And therefore, it is mostly up to the specific autonomous teams to identify the best ways for project completion.

Comparing Scrum vs. Spotify model

The Scrum and Spotify model is often considered one, but their structure has a noticeable difference.

How Scrum works?

Scrum has a well-harmonized structure mainly based on the following:

  • Scrum Teams
  • Scrum Events
  • Scrum Artifacts

Scrum teams

A scrum team is made of three important roles:

Scrum master

As per the scrum guide, a scrum master is a person who serves a scrum team, product owner, and the company in multiple ways, such as:

  • Educating the organization about scrum principles
  • Implementing scrum within the company
  • Arranging stakeholders’ collaboration whenever required
  • Eliminating obstacles between scrum teams and stakeholders
  • Helping the product owner with product backlog administering
  • Aiding the product owner with practical and constructive product goals
  • Removing stumbling blocks for scrum teams during the development process
  • Assuring timely deliveries

Product owner

A product owner is a part of the scrum team and is responsible for the following:

  • Supporting and monitoring developers to increase product value
  • Defining a crystal clear product goal
  • Communicating and ordering product backlog items
  • Ensuring a transparent and understandable product backlog

Developers

A developer is responsible for the following:

  • Sprint planning and sprint backlog
  • Providing increment of value by conforming to the Definition of Done
  • Working according to the sprint goal 

Scrum events

Scrum teams use these “time-boxed” events to ensure the scrum project is delivered on time by defining a sprint. A sprint consists of fixed-length events with a maximum of 30 days duration. Your product development process undergoes multiple sprints. And each new sprint begins right after completing the previous one.

Scrum events are based on the following events:

Sprint Planning: Sprint planning takes place before starting a new sprint. It is the event where developers and a product owner discuss which backlog items to include or exclude in the sprint.

Daily Scrum: The daily scrum is a 15-minute meeting. In this event, the scrum team talks over the progress and complexities and explores ways to improve your product.

Sprint Review: During the sprint, stakeholders and scrum team members review sprint goals and make necessary adjustments in the product backlog.

Sprint Retrospective: Scrum team inspects previous sprints and uses the details to increase your product’s quality in the next sprint.

Scrum artifacts

Scrum artifacts are directions used by stakeholders and scrum teams to stay focused on the product’s development progress with the help of:

Product Backlog: An ordered list to clarify areas where improvement is required in a product to achieve product goals.

Sprint Backlog: It’s a plan for the development teams to accomplish sprint goals in a particular sprint.

Increment: An increment, also called “product increment” or “increment of value,” is the total of all the product backlog items used to refine the product in a sprint. It includes previous and new sprints, which are tested, integrated, and ready to be delivered to all the stakeholders. 

How does the Spotify model work?

The Spotify model is elevated on four pillars.

  • Squads
  • Tribes
  • Chapters
  • Guilds

Squads

Squad is the elementary product development unit in the Spotify model, having 6 to 12 people. Each squad is assigned a specific task and can choose its own way of working, just like a mini-startup. For instance, squads can select any framework (Kanban, Scrum, etc.) to accelerate product development. While squads have product owners and agile coaches to help them on their journey, they choose their own rules to play the game without official interference.

Tribes

When multiple squads work on a certain product feature, they are called “Tribe.” Ideally, each tribe may include 100 individuals, including a tribe leader. The leader is responsible for removing hurdles in the product development process by offering solutions to the squad. But, these are merely suggestions as squads are free from adhering to orders.

Chapters

Chapters are experts in the same field, such as back-end developers, in a tribe. They collaborate and meet each other to work and eliminate similar problems. This continuous knowledge-sharing enhances communication between squads for better innovation.

Guilds

Unlike chapters, guilds are those people who perform roles based on their area of interest rather than expertise. It is like a “community of interest” with individuals and groups from squads, chapters, or tribes. For example, any person can join and experience the testing phase of a product even if they have zero prior experience. 

Is Spotify model more result-oriented than Scrum?

After reviewing the scrum vs. Spotify model, it is quite clear that both have different approaches toward product development. The Spotify model is itself based on agile frameworks, including scrum. Unlike scrum, it has an autonomous nature that allows the developers to choose their own strategies. It also encourages companies to trust their workforce on deliveries.

But, since the model lacks supervision and involvement of the product owners, leaders, and stakeholders, it usually fails to deliver high-quality projects on time. Additionally, many more reasons explain why the Spotify model buzz disappeared. For instance, this model has been criticized for:

  • Extremely hard structure
  • Eliminating the wrong problems
  • Complex communication with project managers
  • Difficulty in balancing autonomy and cross-team collaboration

On the other hand, organizations find the scrum framework effective and result-oriented. With scrum, you are assured of receiving a top-notch product due to its firm structure where:

  • A product owner prepares a list of complex problems to make a product backlog
  • Scrum teams ensure adding an increment of value within a sprint
  • Stakeholders and the scrum team analyze the results
  • Scrum teams work on the improvements to make a better version of your product in the next sprint
  • The entire cycle is repeated until stakeholders and scrum teams are 100% satisfied

At Slash, we believe in quality and commitment. We use the scrum framework to deliver next-level industry-leading digital products. Our scrum masters and product owners ensure defining clear sprint goals and never take time for granted. We regularly catch up with our expert developers for feedback through daily scrum meetings to deliver products that excel your expectations.

Conclusion

There’s no visible comparison when discussing the scrum vs. Spotify model, as both are based on distinct structures. The Spotify model may work in large organizations and enterprises to manage their business operations. But the scrum framework is ideal for managing project-based teams regardless of the organization’s size. Big guns like Google, Netflix and Spotify itself use the scrum framework for project management.

Do you want to know how Slash uses scrum to complete your projects without compromising quality and ensuring timely deliveries? Contact us and our super-fast representatives will be in touch with you.

Byron Matthiopoulos
Byron Matthiopoulos
Managing Director
Byron Matthiopoulos joined as a Product Owner in 2018, shortly after moving to Cambodia, to help lead one of the biggest projects of the start-up at the time. His background as medical researcher, journalist & advertising photographer and diverse skills have provided a solid foundation for the complexities of the field of product building. His ability to assimilate multiple sources of data into a coherent vision allowed him to successfully run a number of exciting projects over the years. The diversity and complexity of his tasks since he joined Slash had perfectly positioned him to take over the role of Head of Product. He is now leading the ideation, design and creation of new and exciting products through user-centric digital innovation.
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