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The Complete Agile Glossary

July 13th 2021

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The Agile methodology has been around for nearly two decades.  Its impact has changed many industries starting from its root in software development and permeating all industries large and small.  In the software developer world over 90 percent of all projects are managed using Agile, and in the rest of the world even companies such as Nordstrom’s have adopted it.  As a result of such a large user base a general terminology has developed to communicate its principles and practices.  In the real world no one expects to have to memorize all the terms so here is a quick glossary to bookmark as a reference.  Enjoy.


 

AGILE GLOSSARY

A-E: Acceptance criteria to epic

F-J: Gantt chart to iteration

K-O: Kanban to lean

P-T: Product backlog to task board

U-Z: User story to XP

 

 

A-E: Acceptance Criteria to Epic

 

1. Acceptance Criteria

Definition:

Acceptance criteria are a set of conditions that software must meet in order to be accepted by a customer or stakeholder.

 

The product owner needs to determine whether the feature is doing what the users need it to do.

 

Synonyms:

Client accepted

Definition of Done (DoD)

 

2. Acceptance Test
 

Definition:

An acceptance test ensures that a software feature is working correctly and meets the acceptance criteria. It’s usually run after the software has been developed. 

 

Synonyms:

User test, functional test

 

3. Agile manifesto

Definition:

The Agile Manifesto is a document that sums up the 12 Agile principles that guide the Agile framework.

 

Every Agile methodology strictly follows the principles and practices outlined in the Agile Manifesto.

 

Synonyms:

None

 

4. Agile marketing

Definition:

It’s a marketing technique that borrows heavily from Agile practices and values. Agile marketing professionals work in sprints so that their team can complete high-value projects in a very short period of time.  After each sprint, they measure how well their project has fared, and see what changes they can make in order to improve their performance in the next sprint.

 

Agile marketing is also a great way for your marketing team to respond quickly to the rapidly changing markets we see today.

 

Synonyms:

None

 

5. Agile Mindset

Definition

An Agile mindset is a set of attitudes that an Agile or Scrum team should have towards their work. 

 

These attitudes are inspired by Agile values and principles, such as:

• Respect

• Collaboration

• Continuous improvement

• Focus on delivering value

• How do you develop an Agile mindset?

 

To develop an Agile mindset a Agile practitioner or an Agile coach can help your team embrace Agile.

 

Synonyms

None

 

6. Agile Principle

Definition:

An Agile principle is a guiding practice that helps teams understand and adopt Agile.

 

There are 12 Agile principles that revolve around customer satisfaction, increasing the speed of software development, and flexibility.

 

Synonyms:

None

 

7. Agile Release Train

Definition:

An Agile Release Train is a combination of multiple Agile products teams used to tackle large enterprise-scale projects.   On average, it consists of around 50-125 team members working together on different parts of the project. Just like a Scrum team, an Agile Release Train works in short bursts called iterations, their iterations (called program increments) are five times the length of a regular iteration!  They are an essential part of the Scaled Agile Framework.

 

Synonyms:

ART

 

8. Agile Development

Definition:

Agile Development is a project management technique that allows developers to create a working software model in just a few weeks.  An Agile team breaks down in their project into smaller development cycles called iterations or sprints.  At the end of the iteration, the Agile team is able to deliver a project with just the essential features. Users give their feedback and suggestions, and the Agile team includes it in future iterations.  This cycle continues until you’ve created a final project.  Over the years, it has split into different frameworks and methodologies like Scrum, Kanban, Lean, and XP. 

 

Synonyms:

Agile Software Management, Agile project management, Agile methodology, Agile method, Agile approach, Agile way

 

9. Agile transformation

Definition:

Agile transformation is the process of transitioning your entire organization to adapt to the Agile mindset.  This involves creating a work environment that supports innovation and flexibility. It also allows your project team to be cross-functional (having members with different skill sets).  Agile transformation does not mean teaching your team to use Agile development methodologies. 

 

Synonyms:

None

 

10. Backlog

Definition:

It’s a list of new product features, updates, bug fixes, etc. that are required by the user.  At the start of every iteration, the product owner decides which backlog items the team needs to work on. After every iteration, the backlog is regularly updated with user suggestions and new features. 

 

Synonyms:

Product backlog, sprint backlog

 

11. Backlog Refinement

Definition:

It’s a Scrum meeting where the Scrum team organizes the backlog to make sure it’s ready for the next sprint or iteration.  It is normally held at the end of the sprint. 

 

During this meeting the team: 

• Removes unnecessary user stories

• Creates new user stories based on user feedback

• Prioritizes features that must be included in the next sprint

• Synonyms

• Backlog grooming

 

Synonyms:

Backlog Grooming

12. Bottleneck

Definition:

Bottlenecks are issues that can completely slow down the development process.  A sprint task goes through multiple stages during the development process, such as: ‘To do’, ‘In Progress’, ‘Review’. A bottleneck occurs when too many tasks are stuck at one stage.  As a result, the project workflow slows down an undesired effect in an Agile environment.  An Agile team usually uses a Kanban board to prevent this from happening.

 

Synonyms:

Obstacle, impediment

 

13. Burndown Chart

Definition:

A burndown chart is an important chart that helps Agile project managers track:

• The amount of work left in the project

• The time remaining to complete the work

 

An Agile project management tool like Jira can provide a projected progress line that highlights how project progress would look like if your team works at the same pace.

 

Synonyms:

Release burndown chart, sprint burndown chart

 

14. Burnup Chart
 

Definition:

A burnup chart an important chart that helps project managers visualize: 

 

• The work the Scrum team has completed in the sprint

• The total amount of work in the project

 

Synonyms:

None

 

15. Continuous Integration (CI software development only)

Definition:

Continuous integration is an Agile practice where developers constantly add their code to the main system.  Development professionals work independently on a feature. Once a feature is completed, it’s tested for any bugs.  Only after it’s passed the automated test is it added to the final software.

 

Synonyms:

Continuous delivery, CI 

 

16. Daily Scrum

Definition:

It’s a daily meeting usually hosted by the Scrum master. Every morning, the Scrum team gets together for 15 minutes to discuss their day ahead.  The scrum team members usually stand during the meeting, no need to get comfortable the meeting will be short.

 

Each member briefly talks about the following topics:

• What they plan to do today

• What they did yesterday

• Issues they have encountered

• The Scrum master steps up to solve any impediments the Scrum team might have.

 

Synonyms:

Daily standup, Daily Scrum meeting

 

17. DSDM (Dynamic systems development method)

Definition:

It’s a business-oriented Agile framework that focuses on the entire project from start to finish. The core belief of DSDM is that the work done on the Agile project should align with the strategy of the company. 

 

Synonyms:

None

 

18. Epics

Definition:

An epic is a big idea or feature that can be broken down into smaller user stories. Much like how large ‘epics’ like Lord of the Rings are split into 3 books.

 

For example: an epic called ‘Improve Mobile UI’ can consist of 3 user stories: ‘Add mobile Shopping Cart’, ‘Optimize Speed’, and ‘Consistent Font’. 

 

Each user story, in turn, can be broken into manageable tasks. 
 

Synonyms:

Epic stories

 

 

F – J: Gantt Chart to Iteration

 

19. Gantt Chart

Definition:

It’s a horizontal bar chart that visualizes the sequence of tasks within the project timeline. Each task has a start date and end date so that your team doesn’t exceed deadlines.  Use a Gantt chart to see what tasks are dependent on each other. 

 

Synonyms:

Project timeline 

 

20. Impediment

Definition:

It’s an obstacle that reduces an Agile team’s productivity or prevents them from completing an Agile project altogether.  For example, communication issues, distractions at the workplace.  During a Scrum meeting, it’s the Scrum master’s responsibility to remove any impediments that a team may have.

 

Synonyms:

Roadblocks, issues

 

21. Iteration

Definition:

It’s a period of time in which an Agile team needs to develop working software. An iteration generally lasts for around 2-4 weeks for Kanban and Scrum teams.

 

Synonyms:

Sprint, timebox

 

 

K-O: Kanban to Lean
 

22. Kanban

Definition:

Kanban It’s a highly visual Agile framework.  Instead of working in fixed and planned iterations like in Scrum, Kanban teams work on priority tasks whenever they come in. The goal of Kanban is to have a constant stream of work without any bottlenecks.  Teams add a limit to the number of tasks that can be worked upon simultaneously (known as WIP limit), so the team doesn’t multitask and slow down productivity.

 

Synonyms:

None

 

23. Kanban board

Definition:

A Kanban board visualizes all the work within the project.  It’s a physical or visual cork board that is split into 3-4 columns.  Each column in a Kanban board represents a status of the task, ranging from ‘To Do’, ‘In Progress’, and ‘Done’.   In Kanban, each task is visualized as a sticky note or card. Every time a team member finishes a task, the card is moved to the relevant column.

 

Synonyms:

Task board, whiteboard, cork board

 

24. Lean

Definition:

It’s a set of principles and practices that optimizes the development process. It was inspired by the lean manufacturing approach introduced by Toyota in the 50s.

 

Synonyms:

Lean software development

 

 

P-T: Product backlog to Task board
 

25. Product backlog

Definition:

A product backlog is Scrum terminology that refers to a list of new features, updates, bug fixes, etc. that are required by the user. The product owner is in charge of prioritizing items in the product backlog. They decide every product backlog item the team needs to work on at the beginning of each iteration.

 

Synonyms:

Backlog

 

26. Product manager

Definition

A product manager assists the Agile team with the development process from start to finish. 

 

Their main responsibilities include:

• dealing with problems in the development process

• ensuring the team meets project deadlines

• collaborating with other departments of the company like sales,

   marketing and, customer service

• Note: Product manager and Product owner are not interchangeable Agile terms. 

Synonyms:

Project manager

 

27. Product owner/s

Definition:

They are the key member/s of an Agile or Scrum team.  They decide the vision and features of the final product.  They carefully understand the customer’s needs and requirements and add those items to the product backlog.  They also receive feedback from the customers and relay it to the development team.

 

Synonyms:

None

 

28. Refactoring

Definition:

Refactoring is a practice where some term or complexity is changed across the entire project and any dependency affected by that term is updated.  Refactoring doesn’t change how the product works; it just improves its internal structure and architecture.

 

Synonyms:

Restructuring

 

29. Release plan

Definition:

A release plan showcases all the features to be included in the next release, along with an estimated release date.   A release plan usually spans for a period of a few months. 

 

Synonyms:

None

 

30. Scaled Agile Framework

Definition:

It’s an Agile methodology that allows large companies to implement Lean and Agile practices throughout the organization. SAFE unites all software development teams within a company to work towards developing large enterprise-scale product.  It organizes multiple Agile teams into a large team called Agile Release Train, so they can collaborate effectively.

 

Synonyms:

SAFE

 

31. Scrum

Definition:

Scrum is an Agile project management technique in which a team works in short bursts of work ranging from 2-4 weeks, called sprints. At the end of the sprint, they deliver the product to the customers, and in turn, the customers give the developers their feedback.  A Scrum team sets a rigorous plan for the sprint, so everyone knows what they have to do. Moreover, teams host regular Scrum meetings in order to manage processes within the sprint.  Scrum is the most popular in Agile methodologies nearly 70 percent of teams use Scrum.

 

Synonyms:

Scrum project management

 

32. Scrumban

Definition:

Scrumban is a hybrid Agile project management technique that combines elements of Scrum and Kanban.  It has the structure of Scrum and the continuous workflow of Kanban. This comes in handy when the Kanban team wants to follow a few Scrum practices, and the Scrum team wants to try out the Kanban method.

 

Synonyms:

None

 

33. Scrum board

Definition:

It’s a virtual or physical board that displays tasks that need to be done in a sprint.  The Scrum board is almost identical to a Kanban board.   Unlike a Kanban board, the Scrum board doesn’t have a limit on the number of tasks that can be in one column simultaneously.

 

Synonyms:

Task board, whiteboard, cork board.

 

34. Scrum master

Definition:

The Scrum master is the leader of the Scrum. They organize meetings, remove impediments, and work with the product owner to ensure that the product backlog is up to date, they solve any problems team members might have.

 

Synonyms:

None

 

35. Scrum meeting

Definition:

A Scrum meeting is an essential part of the Scrum framework. Without them, the sprint would have no structure or project plan.  There are five types of Scrum meetings that occur during the sprint.

 

Each Scrum meeting enables the whole team to do important sprint tasks like:

• Create a plan for the sprint in a sprint planning meeting

• Solve problems together in the Daily Scrum

• Organize the backlog in the backlog refinement meeting

• Demonstrate a working software to the customer in a sprint review

• Analyze the sprint performance in a sprint retrospective

 

Synonyms:

Scrum ceremonies, Agile ceremonies

 

36. Scrum of Scrums

Definition:

It’s a special Scrum meeting for large Scrum teams. Large Agile teams (more than 12 team members) are divided into smaller Scrum teams (around 5-10 members).  Each small Scrum team designates one member as an “ambassador.”  Every day, all the ambassadors meet in the Scrum of Scrums to update their progress and resolve their issues.

 

Synonyms:

Meta Scrum

 

37. Scrum team

Definition:

It’s a cross-functional team of 5-10 individuals with different skill sets. They work together to develop a product under the Scrum framework. 

 

Each Scrum team usually contains 3 key roles:

• Product owner

• Scrum master

• Developers

 

Synonyms:

None

 

38. Sprint
 

Definition:

It’s another term for an iteration.  However, sprint is a Scrum term and is usually a phrase used by Scrum teams.  Another difference between the two is that sprints maintain a uniform length (2-4 weeks) during the Agile development process. Whereas, iterations can have varying lengths, depending on the nature of the work.

 

Synonyms:

Timebox, iterations

 

39. Sprint backlog
 

Definition:

It’s a list of features, bug fixes, user requirements, and tasks that the Scrum team needs to work on during the sprint.  During the sprint planning meeting, the product owner decides the backlog items need to be added to the sprint backlog.  Once the sprint backlog has been set, it can’t be changed during the sprint.

Synonyms:

Iteration backlog

40. Sprint goal

Definition:

The sprint goal is the desired result the Scrum team wants to achieve during the sprint. In most cases, the end result is a working model of the software that can be shown to the stakeholders.  Scrum teams have to finish developing all the items in the sprint backlog before the sprint ends.  

Agile project management tools like Jira have in-built features that can help you track your sprint goals in real-time

Synonyms:

Iteration goals

41. Sprint planning

Definition:

Sprint planning is a Scrum meeting where the Scrum team decides the work they need to do during the sprint, this includes picking up items (like user stories) from the sprint backlog and breaking them down into smaller, more manageable tasks.

Synonyms:

Sprint planning meeting, Agile planning meeting

42. Sprint retrospective

Definition:

A sprint retrospective is a Scrum meeting where the Scrum team analyzes their performance, at the end of the sprint.  The team uses Agile metrics, charts, and reports to see where they excel and where they need to improve.

Synonyms:

Retrospective meeting

43. Sprint review

Definition:

A sprint review is a Scrum meeting where the Scrum team demonstrates a working project model to the stakeholders.  Along with the product demo, the Scrum team prepares a presentation that outlines the new features added, bug fixes, and other changes.  At the end of the review, the stakeholder provides valuable feedback, which is implemented in the next sprint. 

 

Synonyms:

Sprint review meeting

 

44. Stakeholder

Definition:

It’s a term that refers to anyone outside of the Agile team who is connected to the project. It could be an investor, account manager, sales team, or the client.

 

Synonyms:

None

 

45. Story points

Definition:

It’s a measure of effort that your team would need to complete project tasks (user story).  The time taken to complete the simplest user story is taken as the baseline and is given 1 point. Other user stories are assigned story points proportional to the baseline.   For example, if a feature that takes 2 hours to develop is given 1 point, then a feature that takes 4 hours receives 2 points.

 

Synonyms:

None

 

46. Task board

Definition:

It’s a generic Agile term that can refer to a Kanban board or Scrum board.

 

Synonyms:

Kanban board, Scrum board, Cork board, Whiteboard.

 

 

U-Z: User Story to XP
 

47. User story

Definition:

It’s a brief description of a specific product feature or a function that customers would find helpful.  During the sprint planning meeting, the product owner is responsible for breaking down a product backlog item into different user stories.

 

Synonyms:

User goals

 

48. Work item

Definition

A work item is an Agile term that refers to the different types of work that needs to be done within the project. 

 

examples:

• User Story

• Task 

• Bug fixes

• Epics

Synonyms

• Work object

 

49. Velocity

Definition:

It’s a unit of measurement that determines the amount of work your team can handle during an iteration.  Velocity is measured by calculating the average number of tasks/user stories completed in a sprint. Agile teams use a velocity chart to do this.

Synonyms:

None (andale andale ☺ just a joke don’t include in webpage )

50. XP (Extreme programming)

Definition:

Extreme Programming is a software development methodology in which a team has to complete a working software in 1-2 weeks, rather than the usual 2-4 weeks iteration. 

 

Synonyms:

Extreme Scrum