top of page

Shape Up vs Scrum: What is the difference?

If you know the Shape Up concept you might ask yourself, so what is the difference between Shape Up and Scrum. Let's review step by step.

If you have already heard about Shape up or read my last article about what Shape Up is and its pros and cons, you might get the impression that Shape Up and Scrum are similar. But are they?

Let's review!

roles and responsibilities

First, let's look at roles and responsibilities distribution within Shape Up and Scrum. The critical difference is that in Shape Up, you won't find a dedicated Product Owner, as well as you won't find a process owner (like Scrum Master). Let's have a closer look:



Requirments owner

Product Owner

Anyone can write a Pitch and bring it to betting table

Prioritization owner

Product Owner

Senior Stakeholders (desicion making people in the company)

Execution owner

Development team

Development team

Reporting owner

Usually, the Product Owner reports to Senior Management using a roadmap and status reporting

The development team reports on progress using Hill Charts

Process implementation owner

Scrum Master

No dedicated person

Product development

Once responsibilities ownership is clear, now is time to review how the entire product execution flow goes along. The essential difference is that the Scrum team first would find a solution, then estimate it and start development. In contrast, Shape up pushes you to begin with appetite, find a solution, and start development. Let's deep dive into product development areas:



Product requirements

Stored in Product Backlog

No backlog however there is a list of proposed Pitches for future cycle


Product Owner knows current business needs and prioritizes work for upcoming Sprint

​On the Betting Table, decision makers review the list of Pitches and decide what is going to be delivered in the upcoming cycle

Development iteration

1 - 4 weeks Sprints

1 cycle = 8 weeks

Size of work and estimations

Team estimate tickets in story points or T-shirt sizes

Pitch owner set appetite for a Pitch which is 2 or 6 weeks


Expected to happen during the Sprint or following the Sprint after

Does not account dedicated time for testing

Work split

Sprint Backlog Tickets are picked-up by the development team

Pitches are assigned to engineers (usually, 1 or 2 engineers are working on a Pitch)


Easy to scale

Works well for small and mid-size organizations, might be challenging to scale

Scope Creep

​Happens often and requires effort to avoid

Pitches specify what the solution is and what are no-goes - such approach reduces scope creep significantly

Feedback and performance

As a final step let's jump into the feedback loop and how development team performance is measured. Both of the topics are very different in Scrum and Shape Up:




​By the end of the Sprint, the team is holding Sprint Review or Demo session to present completed work to stakeholders

No demo is expected to happen at the end of the cycle

Feedback gathering

Retrospective or Sprint Review

​No process

Bugs fixing

Bugs are fixed during the Sprint

Bugs fixing can be done during Cool Down (or during Cycle if time allows)

Team performance metrics

Velocity and Burn Down Chart

No metrics to catch performance

Improvements areas


​​No process

what is better Scrum or Shape up you would ask?

The answer is easy - both are good. The goal is to choose the right approach for your organization's needs and consider all the advantages and disadvantages of every methodology out there. Need help? Contact me at!

411 views0 comments


bottom of page