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Is there a difference between the terms phase and sprint and can we say that the sprint is a phase?

In waterfall methodology they use the term phase and in agile they use the sprint term so is there a difference or they are only terms used in each methodology.

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Phase

The Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) provides a section for the term phase.

Organizations performing projects will usually divide each project into several project phases to improve management control and provide links to the ongoing operations of the performing organization.

Each phase creates a set of deliverables which are then handed off to another group for additional work. The product is not complete.

Sprint

The term Sprint has a specific definition from the Scrum framework.

The heart of Scrum is a Sprint, a time-box of one month or less during which a "Done", useable, and potentially releasable product Increment is created.

At the end of the Sprint the product is stable. Although there may be more features requested, the effort could be terminated and still be marketable.

Each Sprint may be considered a project with no more than a one-month horizon.

This means that any necessary phases of work must be completed at the end of the Sprint's time-box. Please note that working in phases within the framework is an anti-pattern.

Conclusion

The answer is that they are different and the differences are very important.

  • Thanks, this is great answer, but could you please explain this statement "Please note that working in phases within the framework is an anti-pattern" – user3260672 Feb 9 '18 at 18:39
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    Many new Scrum teams attempt to break up a sprint into segments. So, if they are use to phases like Design, Architecture, Implementation, Testing, they make take a 4 week sprint and assign a phase to each week. This is problematic for many reasons. First, it is subject to all of the pitfalls in phase-gating that teams go to scrum to avoid. It also artificially segments the team and the work - scrum looks to the team to rally around work and function as a cohesive unit. – Daniel Feb 9 '18 at 20:05
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    @user3260672 1. A development Sprint handing off to a testing Sprint handing off to a user acceptance Sprint. 2. BA handing off to designer handing off to developers handing off to QA within a Sprint. HTH – Alan Larimer Feb 9 '18 at 20:07
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Phase and sprint mean very different things

The waterfall process, as the name signifies, has sequential phases that flow from the previous one just like in a waterfall. This means that the next phase can start only after the previous phase has been completed. For example, you complete the Requirements phase, get sign-off from the stakeholders and then only can start the Design phase.

During a given 'phase' you only focus on that one thing and nothing else. So, for example, at the end of the Requirement and Design phases, the only deliverable is a document. No code will be delivered.

In contrast, one of the 12 principles behind the Agile Manifesto is:

Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.

In order to accomplish this, Agile tries to combine all the waterfall phases (Requirement, Design, Development, Testing and Deployment) into a short time box called a sprint (also called an iteration). At the end of this sprint a potentially shippable increment of code should be ready. Meaning it must be ready, tested and ready to be deployed. Some people do not actually deploy to production at the end of each sprint. However, it should be potentially deployable at the end of each sprint.

In waterfall methodology they use the term phase and in agile they use the sprint term so is there a difference or they are only terms used in each methodology.

Yes, they mean different things. Yes, these are terms used in each methodology.

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