Agile and Scrum Glossary

Updated: Dec 9, 2020

A Quick Reference Guide to all things Agile and Scrum with a focus on Scrum terminology.


Adaptation

One of the three empirical pillars of Scrum according to The Scrum Guide, along with Transparency and Inspection. Adaptation is adjusting a process as soon as possible to minimise any further deviation or issues. Adaptation can be reviewed and decided at Scrum Events of Daily Scrum, Sprint Planning, Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective.

Agile

Agile is the overarching project management methodology which encompasses Scrum, XP, Crystal, DSDM, FDD and others. Agile is a way of managing projects by delivering small parts of a product and encouraging changes and feedback, as it is very hard to accurately estimate scope, time and budget at the start of a project, particularly for new products.

Agile Coach

An Agile Coach is someone who teaches others on Agile practices, methodology and mindset but is not part of the Scrum Team. They have a deep understanding of multiple Agile practices, not just Scrum. They may be focused on implementing Agile throughout an organisation, or improving Agile techniques and tools, and coaching people on developing an Agile mindset.

Agile Manifesto

The Agile Manifesto defines what Agile practitioners’ value over traditional project management thinking.

Agile Principles

The 12 Principles of Agile form the basis of Agile along with the 4 key values listed in the Agile Manifesto.

Artifact

An artifact is an object such as a document. In Scrum there are 3 primary artifacts (as stated in The Scrum Guide); the Product Backlog, the Sprint Backlog, and an Increment (ie. part of the Product that has been released in a Sprint).


Backlog

There are 2 backlogs in Scrum; the Product Backlog, and the Sprint Backlog. In other types of Agile such as Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), there is also a Portfolio Backlog, which is higher than the Product Backlog. Backlogs contain items to be delivered in a project (Product Backlog) or Sprint (Sprint Backlog).

Bikablo

Bikablo is a drawing technique allowing people to fast-track their drawing and facilitation skills to better facilitate meetings and events. We recommend All Lined Up in Singapore and Visual Friends in Australia/NZ, who teach these techniques.

Burn Down Chart

A graph that shows the work completed (Y-axis) vs the elapsed time period (X-axis). The line in the chart moves down and to the right, as work is completed, hence the burndown. In Scrum, it is usually just to show the progress of the current Sprint. See Sprint Reporting for more details.

Burn Up Chart

Similar to a Burn Down Chart, a Burn Up Chart will show work completed (Y-axis) but against the number of Sprints (X-axis), therefore shows the entire project duration rather than just one Sprint. See Sprint Reporting for more details.

Cadence

In Scrum, this is the rhythm, pace or flow at which the Developers complete their work and Sprints. Developing a good cadence will allow for easier estimating and selection of items to put into the Sprint Backlog.

Capacity

In Scrum, this is the amount of work that Developers can produce in the upcoming Sprint. It is determined in the Sprint Planning event and is based on the Developers input and coming agenda.

Ceremonies

These are now referred to as Scrum Events, these are the 4 events/meetings that make up a Sprint which is composed of: the Daily Scrum, Sprint Planning, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective.

Chief Product Owner

The person is responsible for the overarching Product Backlog over numerous Product Owners and Scrum Teams.

Crystal

Sometimes called Crystal Clear, Crystal is another type of lightweight Agile methodology for developing software. It was developed by Alistair Cockburn, who was also one of the signatories of the Agile Manifesto for Agile Software Development.

Cross-Functional Team

According to The Scrum Guide, for the Developers to perform at its best, they should be cross-functional (and self-managing); that is, the team needs to embody a broad range of skills, and can be from different areas so that they can add the most value to deliver a product to market.

Cynefin Framework

Cynefin was developed by Dave Snowden, a Welsh management consultant in 1999. Cynefin is a Welsh word that is broadly translated as ‘habitat’ or ‘place of being’ and is used to help understand issues to work through them by categorising them into five domains; clear, complicated, complex, chaotic and disorder.

Daily Scrum

This is one of the 4 Scrum Events and is also called the Daily Stand-Up meeting in general Agile terms. This Scrum event, also called ‘Daily Stand Up’ or ‘Daily Huddle’, occurs every day and is a maximum of 15 minutes. It is owned by the Developers and gives a chance to align on what they have been working on previously, what they intend to work on today, and any issues or roadblocks they might have or cause to others. It is run by the Developers however the Scrum Master ensures that it takes place and adheres to the time, and will facilitate the meeting if required.

Daily Stand-Up

Refer to Daily Scrum, above. The Daily Stand-Up is another name for the Daily Scrum.

Defects Trend Chart

A chart to plot Total Defects, Open Defects and Fixed Defects. See Sprint Reporting for more details.


Definition of Done

This is a Scrum term that defines what makes each task complete for release. It should be included as a field on each Product Backlog Item (PBI) so that it is clear and transparent to everyone what defines each task as done.

Developers

In Scrum, Developers make up the Scrum Team along with the Scrum Master and the Product Owner. The Developers should be between 3-9 people and can be made up of the people getting the tasks completed. Ideally, they should also be cross-functional and self-managing so that the team operates at its best.

DevOps

A term describing the Development and Operations teams in a company who operate in an Agile way. It infers that these 2 areas are integrated to provide continuous development and deployment of the product increments, as well as the ongoing support and feedback of releases.

Dot Voting

Dot voting is a facilitation technique for groups to vote on items and to find high priority or preferred items without the influence of others. It can be used in Sprint Retrospectives to find either high priority issues or Product Backlog Items, or for example in Ideation to select preferred ideas. Each person places a dot on the item they prefer, the items with the greatest number of votes are considered the highest priority.

DSDM

Dynamic Systems Development Method is another type of Agile project methodology used for software development.

Empiricism

Empiricism is a term that means using observation and experience rather than pure theory or logic. Scrum is based on 3 Empirical Pillars of Transparency, Inspection and Adaptation, meaning that it embraces change, feedback and adaptation over the strict process to deliver products more efficiently.

Epics

An Epic is a large User Story or a group of User Stories attached to a vision or product vision. These items need to be broken down further as they are too large to fit into a Sprint, can be delivered more efficiently and faster as numerous smaller items, or are not descriptive enough to understand how to deliver.

Estimation

In Sprint Planning or Product Backlog Refining, the Developers perform estimations of how long each Product Backlog Item will take to deliver, either in hours or days (called Story Points).

Extreme Programming (XP)

Extreme Programming (or XP for short) is another type of Agile methodology, where the main difference from other Agile methodologies is ‘Pair Programming’, where programmers sit side by side reviewing each other’s code as they go.

FDD

Feature Driven Development is another type of Agile methodology used for developing software. It encourages status reporting to track progress and results.

Features

Features are called Product Backlog Items in Scrum. These are items that are to be delivered as part of a Sprint and will reside in either the Product Backlog or the Sprint Backlog.

Gantt Chart

A traditional project management tool used to track a project, often using Microsoft Project. It uses bars to visually show the duration of tasks when they start and finish, dependencies and successor tasks, milestones, and completed tasks. Gantt Charts are not used in Agile or Scrum, instead, a Burndown Chart is used to visualise the progress of a Sprint.

Increment

In Scrum, an Increment is the total of all the Sprint Backlog Items that have been delivered in a Sprint. A demonstration of the Sprint increments is shown to stakeholders during the Sprint Review.

Inspection

One of the 3 empirical pillars of Scrum according to The Scrum Guide along with Transparency and Adaptation. Inspections are timely checks of the progress towards a Sprint Goal to detect undesirable variances. For the Scrum Team this may be at Daily Scrum events (primarily), Sprint Reviews or Sprint Retrospectives or anywhere in between. It also means looking frequently at the Sprint Backlog and the Increment to ensure the Sprint is on track, but not to get in the way of the work. For the Product Owner, it can mean reviewing the Product Backlog and continually refining and prioritising.

INVEST

An acronym for Independent, Negotiable, Valuable, Estimable, Small and Testable. All Product Backlog Items should have all these characteristics, particularly once they have been refined.

Kanban

Kanban roughly translates to ‘signal board system’ in Japanese. Kanban is a type of Agile method used to visualise the workflow of the Team. Kanban method is a lot more fluid than Scrum, it does not have set Sprint intervals but visualises actively the flow of work to achieve continuous delivery. One of the core principles is to limit the work in progress as a primary constraint to find ways to flow the work.

Kanban Board

A Kanban board (also ‘Agile task board’) is a board used to visualise the work of the Team mainly focusing on the Sprints and Increments. Columns headings for a basic Kanban board are To Do, Doing and Done. Scrum Teams use these boards to see the current status of the work, they move items from left to right columns as they start and progress the work towards completion.

Lean

Is a methodology predominantly used in manufacturing and process improvement. The basic 5 lean principles are Define Value, Map Value Stream, Create Flow, Establish Pull and Pursuit of Perfection.

Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

The least amount of a Product that can be delivered to the market to add value to the customer and from which we can learn. The aim is usually to focus on and deliver it in the first Sprints.

MoSCoW

MoSCoW stands for Must have, Should have, Could have, Won’t have. A technique used to categorise items by importance, usually for items in the Product Backlog in Scrum.

Mural

Mural is a software used for visual collaboration and can be used on any computer or device. Mural creates virtual whiteboards used for brainstorming, facilitating design thinking methods, and organising Agile processes.

Planning Poker

Planning Poker is an Agile estimating and planning technique used to estimate Product Backlog Items fairly and accurately.

Pomodoro Technique

Pomodoro is a facilitation method to focus on a particular item for a short, set time period, with set intervals. Good for when a Scrum team or person has a lot of items to work through and to focus on one item at a time.

Portfolio Backlog

This is the highest level of backlog in scaled agile methodologies such as Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). It holds the upcoming epics and user stories before they make it to the Solution, Program or Team Backlogs. It is not used in Scrum.

Product Backlog

One of the 3 primary artifacts in Scrum, this is a prioritised list of all the work to be performed in building a Product. The Product Owner is responsible for the Product Backlog and prioritising the items.

Product Backlog Items (PBI)

This is a term to describe all the things listed within a Product Backlog. PBIs can be User Stories, Epics, bugs, features, improvements for example. They will move onto the Sprint Backlog when selected in a Sprint during the Sprint Planning event.

Product Backlog Refinement

This is a continuous activity essential to the management of the backlog throughout the development and support of the product. The Product Owner and Developers will clarify and break down Product Backlog Items into smaller items so that they can be collectively understood and small enough to deliver in a sprint. The Product Owner will also prioritise them from a business point of view.

Product Manager

The Product Manager develops ideas for new products in the marketplace and will be the contact point for any questions or changes that may impact that product. In some organisations, they will also play the part of a Product Owner or may do that full time- it may be another name for a Product Owner.

Product Owner

The Product Owner is a part of the Scrum Team; they know everything about the Product and represent the customer in the Scrum Team. They are responsible for creating the product vision, for prioritising the Product Backlog, for making sure the Scrum Team understand the Product Backlog and its items and doing what they can to ensure the customer will be delighted with the Product through valuable increments and iterations.

Product Roadmap

The roadmap is a high-level plan that shows future products and their evolution, as well as when they are envisaged to be released. This serves as a guideline and clarity tool for the entire Scrum Team.

Project Manager

This is not a role in Scrum but is used in other Agile and traditional project management methodology.

Release

A release is an activity of deploying a product and/or its increment to market, most commonly for software. A release in Scrum may mean a version upgrade or a new feature or new software. In Scrum, we try to release features early and often rather than waiting for one final release at the end so that it can get to the market early and get feedback for future releases or improvements.

Refinement

In Scrum, this refers to Product Backlog Refinement. The Product Owner and Developers continually refine the Product Backlog Items so that they are clear enough to convert into a deliverable item and small enough to deliver in a Sprint.

Requirements

Not used in Scrum, these are used in traditional Waterfall project management methodology to capture the customer needs upfront. In Scrum, we capture the needs of the user and the product through Product Backlog Items such as User Stories and Personas so that further need is catered for as we learn, refine and evolve them throughout the project.

Retrospectives