16 Agile Terms You Should Know

by Modis on November 10, 2016

agile-methodology-practicesMaking the transition to Agile can seem daunting, but the process doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Preparing your team for the cultural shift to the project management methodology can help make the transition seamless. You’ll learn how to “walk the walk” of Agile, but first you have to “talk the talk”.

Here are just some of the common terms unique to Agile project management.

Frequently Used Agile Terms

  • Agile Software Development: A method used by teams to collaborate, plan, develop, and deliver software through rapid continuous improvement.
  • Backlog: Refers to outstanding items or tasks that the project team identifies and maintains that need to be addressed during a sprint. If the item or task is necessary for the success of the project, it should appear on the backlog and be actioned. If it becomes irrelevant or unnecessary, it should be removed from the backlog.
  • Burndown Chart: This is a high-level chart that shows all work (user stories) that needs to be completed during a sprint. Backlog can refer to the sprint (iteration) or the product (project).
  • Burnup Chart: This is similar to a burndown chart, but instead is a view of all the work that’s been completed instead of work that needs to be done.
  • Epic: This is in essence a larger user story, which would be broken down into smaller user stories to be focused on in sprints. An Epic can encompass or span across more than one project.
  • Iteration: A repetitive, shortened phase where focused Agile teams collaborate, design, develop, test, and release specific increments of a product or service. The team continues through this same cycle until all issues are addressed and objectives or goals are accomplished before moving on to other issues or requests.
  • Product Owner: This is the primary stakeholder who has an understanding of the vision, requirements, end user needs and expectations, and who communicates this information to the project team.
  • Refactoring: This is a process to simplify the structure of code, while maintaining how the code behaves/works. Refactoring should occur continuously throughout iterations.
  • Retrospective: The meeting conducted following each iteration where the team reflects on actions and activities, and devises actions for improvement. This is similar to “lessons learned” in general project management terms.
  • Scrum: The most widely used Agile project management framework. Scrum uses a sprint to complete all work, and involves the use of burndown charts, burnup charts, product, backlogs, and other tools. The product owner, scrum team, and scrum master are all primary players.
  • Scrum Master: This key individual plays the role of team facilitator during development to ensure agile principles are followed, and manages the process and communications. This is one of the most important roles in scrum.
  • Sprints: Short delivery cycles (approximately 30 days) designed to focus on a specific portion of product or service development. Sprints are comprised of a planning meeting, review meeting, and retrospective meeting, and activities are intensely focused on specific identified goals.
  • Stand Up Meeting: Also known as daily scrum, it is held each day to allow the team the chance to do a quick update. The meeting is held with all members standing to keep the meeting as brief a possible.
  • Test-Driven Development (TDD): Developed by Kent Beck, TDD is a very short repetitive development cycle whereby product requirements are put into a test case to allow the product or service to be improved through a new test each time.
  • User Story: User stories provide information about requirements for product or service development, and usually include a description, end-user needs, and functionality. This information is used by project teams to collaborate, develop, test, and deploy in sprints.
  • Velocity: This is a way to measure the number of work units that need to be completed within an iteration. The length of time is determined at the beginning of a project.

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