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The Ultimate Agile Dictionary

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Whether you are brand new to the Agile process or have managed Agile software development teams for years, an in-depth online reference to Agile terminology is an indispensable tool. Use this comprehensive collection of Agile terms and processes to jumpstart your understanding and knowledge of Agile methodologies and processes. 

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Agile Software Management

Definition: Agile Software Development refers to the project management approach of developing increments of software in frequent iterations based on evolving requirements.

Also Known As: Agile Software Development, Agile Methods, Agile project management

Etymology: Agile is an umbrella term for a number of project methodologies, Scrum being the most widely used. The concept of Agile was born in 2001 when a team of independent software developers gathered at a ski lodge in Snowbird, Utah to discuss alternative approaches to the traditional, top-down management, waterfall method of completing software development. Originally referred to as lightweight software development methodologies, the developers adopted the term Agile to reflect its lithe, lean style of project management, characterized by frequent iterations. By the end of the weekend, the developers had produced the Agile Manifesto, which included four values and 12 principles for Agile software development.

How It’s Used: Self-organized, cross-functional development teams work in close collaboration with the customer and stakeholders to add value to every step of the process, targeting a goal of continuous improvement.

Agile project management has evolved into a number of project styles, Scrum being the most widely used. Others include:

  • Kanban
  • Extreme Programming (XP)
  • Crystal
  • Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM)
  • Lean
  • Feature-Driven Development (FDD)

It is possible to assign a fixed cost to Agile projects due to Agile’s focus on feature prioritization and timeboxed iterations. If the budget is depleted before all features are included, those features are included at a later time. In Agile, the team is always working highest-priority items within the sprint timebox, ensuring that the customer receives the right product to meet their requirements.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Provides flexibility in development evolution—small changes can be made easily.
  • Allows for early and regular releases.
  • Reduces costs.
  • Reduces waste of resources.
  • Reduces risk—issues are discovered and resolved early.
  • Encourages involvement of product owners, development team, and stakeholders.
  • Encourages team ownership.
  • Eliminates the need for long specification documentation.
  • Increases customer satisfaction.
  • Increases team performance, communication, and motivation.

Acceptance Criteria

Definition: The Acceptance Criteria specify a set of conditions that the software must meet in order to satisfy the customer. The product owner writes statements from the customer’s point of view that explain how a user story or feature should work. In order for the story or feature to be accepted it needs to pass the acceptance criteria; otherwise, it fails.

How it’s Used: Acceptance criteria should be written in clear, easy-to-understand language. For example, “If I am logged in, when I click the “Buy” button, the total item count for my cart should increase by one.”

Project Management Benefits:

  • Confirms when a user story is complete.
  • Helps the team understand the story/feature.
  • Removes ambiguity from requirements.

Acceptance Test

Definition: An Acceptance Test is derived from the Acceptance Criteria and verifies whether a feature is functional. The test has only two results: pass or fail. Many times, acceptance tests are automated so they can be performed on all versions of the software. Acceptance criteria usually include one or more acceptance tests.

Also Known As: functional test, customer test, story test

How it’s Used: Acceptance testing ensures that the software meets business and customer requirements. Acceptance tests are written by the product owner and should be brief statements that explain intended behavior and result. For example, “The user clicks on this button and the text turns red.” This test would result in either a pass or fail.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Increases satisfaction of the customer by ensuring their requirements are met.
  • Identifies functionality and usability issues early on.
  • Promotes collaboration between developers and the end-user.

Agile Manifesto

Definition: The Agile Manifesto includes four values and 12 principles of an iterative software development process. In February 2001, 17 software developers met in Utah to discuss lightweight development methods. They published the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, which covered how they found “better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.”

How it’s Used: Project managers refer to the Agile Manifesto when they are managing any process that aligns with its core concepts, such as Agile methodology.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Frequent testing and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  • Welcomes changing requirements.
  • Promotes cross-functional collaboration.

Application Lifecycle Management (ALM)

Definition: Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) is a continuous process of managing a software application from its initial planning to its retirement. 

How it’s Used: ALM is used throughout the entire project and involves the use of a variety of tools to assist with requirements management, architecture, coding, testing, tracking, and release. 

Project Management Benefits:

  • Reduces risk by continuously monitoring project status.
  • Decreases cycle time and development costs.
  • Minimizes downtime.

Backlog

Definition: A backlog is a changing list of product requirements based on the customer’s needs. The backlog is not a to-do list; rather, it is a list of all the desired features for the product. The Agile team uses the backlog to prioritize features and understand which features to implement first. 

How It’s Used: The development team pulls work from the backlog to complete during each iteration. The backlog may change throughout the development process as the team learns more about the customer’s requirements.

Also Known As: product backlog 

Project Management Benefits:

  • Communicates feature priorities.
  • Allows for longer term planning.
  • Ensures the customer needs are being heard.

Backlog Grooming

Definition: Backlog grooming occurs at the end of a sprint, when the team meets to make sure the backlog is ready for the next sprint. The team may remove user stories that aren’t relevant, create new stories, reassess priority, or split user stories into smaller tasks. Backlog grooming is both an ongoing process and the name for the meeting where this action occurs (a backlog grooming meeting).

Also Known As: Backlog refinement

How it’s Used: Once the team finishes a sprint, a backlog grooming meeting is scheduled. Backlog grooming is meant to ensure the backlog only contains items that are relevant and that meet objectives.

Project Management Benefits: 

  • Ensures that all features are meeting project objectives.
  • Helps the development team understand priorities and stay on track.
  • Facilitates communication regarding which features are and aren’t important, and why.

Big Visible Charts

Definition: Big visual charts are large charts displayed near the Agile team that show how the team is progressing. You could make a big visible chart to show defects, velocity (burndown chart), customer acceptance tests, or to find out how much time the team is wasting.

Also Known As: Information radiator

How it’s Used: Big visible charts are used to display project information in an informal way. Usually displayed on a wall, they share important information at a glance. 

Project Management Benefits:

  • Communicates project status to stakeholders.
  • Improves transparency and communication.
  • Quickly conveys easy-to-digest information.

Burndown Chart

Definition: A burndown chart represents all outstanding work. The vertical axis represents the backlog, while the horizontal axis represents time. The work remaining can be represented by story points, ideal days, team days, or other metrics.

Also Known As: Release burndown chart, iteration burndown chart

How it’s Used: A burndown chart is used by Agile teams to track the total work remaining in a project and to predict when work will be finished.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Warns the team if things aren’t going according to plan.
  • Shows the impact of decisions.
  • Communicates progress and predicts when work will be complete.

Burnup Chart

Definition: A burnup chart tracks how much work has been completed. There are two lines on the chart—one line represents total work and the other represents work completed. The vertical axis represents the amount of work and can be measured in number of tasks, hours, or story points. The horizontal axis represents time, usually measured in days.

How it’s Used: A burnup chart is used by Agile teams to check progress and manage scope or feature creep. This chart allows Agile teams to track when work has been added or removed from the project, and helps the team to determine a realistic completion date for the project.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Easily recognize and solve problems in your project.
  • Estimates when the project will be complete.
  • Improves communication and transparency.

Cadence

Definition: Cadence describes the flow or rhythm of events or tasks in a project. It establishes a pattern that the team can follow to understand what they are doing and when it will be completed. 

How it’s Used: Agile teams strive to achieve a cadence during their project. For example, in Scrum, fixed-length iterations, called sprints, last one to two weeks and allow the team to ship software on a regular cadence. In Kanban, the cadence is the continuous flow of work.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Establishes order and rhythm.
  • Improves team efficiency.
  • Allows the team to deliver software on a frequent basis.

Capacity

Definition: Capacity represents the amount of work that can be completed within a certain time frame and is based on the number of hours that an individual or team will be available to complete the work.

How it’s Used: The product owner and Agile team determine the capacity or amount of workload, they can take on for an upcoming sprint. The capacity is decided during the sprint planning meeting.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Improves resource management.
  • Estimates the completion of a project.

Chickens and Pigs

Definition: The terms “Chicken” and “Pig” come from “The Chicken and Pig Story” by Ken Schwaber, a software developer who helped formulate the initial version of Scrum. Most often used in Scrum, a “Chicken” refers to someone who is involved in the project, but is not accountable for any specific deliverable (such as a stakeholder or manager). On the other hand, a “Pig” is someone who is committed and directly accountable for deliverables. 

“The Chicken and Pig Story” by Ken Schwaber
A pig and a chicken are walking down a road. The chicken looks at the pig and says, “Hey, why don’t we open a restaurant?” The pig looks back at the chicken and says, “Good idea, what do you want to call it?” The chicken thinks about it and says, “Why don’t we call it ‘Ham and Eggs?’” “I don’t think so,” says the pig, “I’d be committed, but you’d only be involved.”

How it’s Used: Chickens and Pigs are used to define participants and roles in Scrum. “Pig” roles are usually the actual team members, the Scrum Master, or the Project Owner. “Chicken” roles are managers or stakeholders. 

Project Management Benefits:

  • Clarifies and defines roles.
  • Sets projects expectations.
  • Promotes accountabilities.

Continuous Improvement

Definition: Continuous improvement is a process of improving quality and efficiency by making small, incremental changes over time. In Kanban, continuous improvement refers specifically to the process of optimizing workflow and reducing cycle time, resulting in increased productivity. 

Also Known As: Kaizen

How It’s Used: Continuous improvement is used to introduce improvement into the work process on an incremental basis and involves the following steps: 1) Identify, 2) Plan, 3) Execute, and 4) Review.

More specifically for Kanban, there are no set due dates so the team focuses on work-in-progress. As team members collaborate to troubleshoot problems and brainstorm new ideas, the process becomes more efficient and streamlined, cycle times decrease, and workflow is optimized. Teams do not need to be cross-functional in Kanban.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Improves productivity and delivery.
  • Increases accuracy in forecasting future work and delivery.
  • Streamlines work and reduces waste.
  • Introduces improvement on an incremental basis.
  • Increases a sense of pride and accomplishment in team members.

Continuous Integration (CI)

Definition: Continuous integration is a software engineering practice that involves continual integration of new development code into the existing codebase. 

Also Known As: Continuous delivery, continuous deployment

How it’s Used: Once a feature is completed, developers test it for defects and then integrate it into the existing codebase. This ensures that the code repository always contains the latest working software build. In practice, this process is largely automated through the use of version control tools, team policies and conventions, and specific CI tools.

Project Management Benefits: 

  • Enables rapid feedback, so that defects can be identified and corrected quickly.
  • Minimizes time and effort needed to perform each integration.
  • Provides an automated build and release process.
  • Allows software to be deliverable at any moment.

Cycle

Definition: A cycle refers to the total amount of time it takes for a single task or work item to travel through the workflow from the beginning of work until it ships. 

How It’s Used: Kanban methodology uses cycle time as its key metric, rather than velocity, as with Scrum. As Kanban teams become become more efficient in optimizing workflow and producing deliverables, cycle times decrease and productivity increases. Cycles have no set time limits; rather, workflow is based on continuous delivery. Kanban teams with shared skills experience smaller cycle times. Teams should strive for both shorter and more consistent cycle times. Cycle times can also be applied in Scrum.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Leads to continuous improvement.
  • Increases ability to forecast future deliveries (with consistent cycle times).
  • Increases productivity (with shorter cycle times).

Daily Scrum

Definition: The Daily Scrum is a brief communication and status-check session facilitated by the Scrum Master where Scrum teams share progress, report impediments, and make commitments for the current iteration or sprint. The Daily Scrum consists of a tightly focused conversation kept to a strict timeframe; the meeting is held at the same time, every day (ideally, in the morning), and in the same location. The Scrum task board serves as the focal point of the meeting. 

Also Known As: Daily standup, daily meeting, daily huddle

How it’s Used: The Scrum Master typically asks team members the following three questions:

  1. What did I accomplish yesterday?
  2. What will I commit to, or complete, today?
  3. What impediments or obstacles are preventing me from meeting my commitments?

All discussion during the Daily Scrum should be focused on answering these three questions. Any additional discussions stemming from these questions should be addressed separately. Only those who are involved in the current sprint should be present at the Daily Scrum.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Keeps workflow on track.
  • Helps identify issues sooner than later.
  • Increases team accountability, communication, and collaboration.
  • Allows the team to see the ‘bigger picture’ of the sprint.
  • Stimulates team self-organization and personal planning.
  • Helps team members address issues and make small course corrections, if needed.
  • Provides face-to-face interaction (if on site).

Daily Standup

Definition: The Daily Standup meeting is a key component of Agile methodologies and serves as a daily forum for Agile teams to share progress, report impediments, and make commitments for the current iteration or sprint. This brief, 15-minute meeting is usually held every morning at the same time and in the same location. The meeting should be brief enough for participants to stand for its entirety—standing promotes brevity and ensures that the meeting doesn’t extend past the timeframe allotted.

Also Known As: Daily Scrum, standup meeting, daily meeting, daily huddle

How it’s Used: Daily standups are typically held around the team’s physical Scrum or Kanban task board (for on-site teams). Teams answer three questions about their work status along these lines:

  1. What did I accomplish yesterday?
  2. What will I commit to, or complete, today?
  3. What impediments or obstacles are preventing me from meeting my commitments?

All discussion during the daily standup should be focused on answering these three questions. Any additional discussions stemming from these questions should be handled outside of the daily standup. 

Project Management Benefits:

  • Keeps workflow on track.
  • Keeps the meeting short (due to standing).
  • Helps identify issues sooner than later.
  • Increases team accountability, communication, and collaboration.
  • Stimulates team self-organization and personal planning.
  • Helps team members address issues and make small course corrections, if needed.
  • Provides face-to-face interaction (if on site).

Definition of Done

Definition: Definition of Done refers to a set of predetermined criteria that a product needs to meet in order to be considered as being done. The team reaches a consensus as to what defines a task as being done and then posts a checklist of steps that must be completed before the product can be considered as potentially shippable. The team displays this list in the form of a Big Visual Chart prominently in the team area.

Also Known As: single done, done, done-done-done, done list, done checklist, product sashimi, task complete definition, punch list

How it’s Used: The team agrees upon a list of criteria which must be met before a product increment is considered to be ‘done’—that is, all design, coding, testing, and documentation have been completed, and the code has been fully integrated into the system. If a task does not meet the Definition of Done criteria, it does not count toward team velocity.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Improves likelihood of delivering working software.
  • Limits the cost of rework once a feature has been accepted as ‘done’.
  • Reduces the risk of misunderstanding and conflict between the development team, and customer or product owner.

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Epic Stories

Definition: Epic or epic stories are defined as large user stories that, in their current state, would be  difficult to estimate or to complete in a single iteration. Epic stories are typically lower priority and are waiting be broken down into smaller components. 

How it’s Used: Epics are often used as placeholders for new ideas that have not been fully developed While epic stories are common when developing the initial product backlog, they should eventually be broken down into more manageable user stories where the requirements of the story are more narrowly defined. 

Project Management Benefits:

  • Useful as placeholders for large requirements.
  • Helpful for big-picture view of user stories.

Estimation

Definition: Estimation is the process of assigning a quantifiable measure to the amount of workload needed to complete a project or task, in order to determine the duration, effort, or cost required to complete the project or task.

How it’s Used: The Agile team must reach a consensus on an estimate for workload effort or duration needed to complete the task based on individual estimates provided by team members. This can take the form of a game known as Planning Poker.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Provides an indication of overall duration, effort, or cost of a software project.
  • Reduces uncertainty related to cost and duration.
  • Provides a guideline for estimating tasks or projects.

Fail-Fast

Definition: Fail-fast is the process of starting work on a task or project, obtaining immediate feedback, and then determining whether to continue working on that task or take a different approach—that is, adapt. If a project is not working, it is best to determine that early on in the process rather than waiting until too much money and time has invested.

How it’s Used: A team starts a new project or task, obtains feedback early on, and then conducts an an analysis to determine whether the project will be functional or successful. If a task or project is moving in the wrong direction, team members are encouraged to stop work as soon as possible.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Identifies issues quickly.
  • Creates a culture of transparency
  • Reduces wasted time, effort, and cost.
  • Improves efficiency in software product development.

Feature Creep

Definition: Feature creep is the tendency to add additional requirements or features to a project after development is already underway. Feature creep can occur on either a project or sprint level.

Also Known As: Requirements creep, scope creep

How it’s Used: Changes and additional requirements are to be expected in a project. Any changes requested after the start of a project or sprint need to be added to the backlog and prioritized based on value. This ensures that feature creep will not adversely impact the project timeline or cost.

Project Management Concerns:

  • Risks project schedule, quality, and cost.
  • Reduces productivity.
  • Prevents teams from meeting iteration goals.
  • Decreases value of product or deliverable.

Fibonacci Sequence

Definition: Originally derived in the 12th century by Leonardo Pisano, the Fibonacci Sequence is a mathematical sequence in which each subsequent number is determined by the sum of the two previous numbers, that is: 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21… Each interval becomes larger as the numbers increase: 

How it’s Used: Teams often use the Fibonacci Sequence when playing the game of Planning Poker to estimate workload. The numbers are relative and have no unit of measurement assigned. 

Project Management Benefits:

  • Establishes a scale or standard of comparison for estimating.
  • Increases accuracy of estimates.

Impediment

Definition: An impediment is any obstacle that prevents an individual or team from completing a task or project. Unscheduled meetings, technical issues, lack of knowledge or expertise, a distracting workplace, and office conflict are all examples of impediments.

How it’s Used: The team may want to create a list of impediments called an Impediment Backlog and prominently display this list in the area where the team meets for Daily Scrums. Impediments should be listed by how seriously they are hindering team productivity. If the impediments are company-wide, it is the Scrum Master’s responsibility to remove them. If they are occurring at a team level, it is the team’s responsibility to resolve or remove them.

Project Management Concerns:

  • Results in reduced team productivity.
  • Negatively impacts project timeline and cost.
  • Needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

Iteration

Definition: An iteration is a fixed or timeboxed period of time, generally spanning two to four weeks, during which an Agile team develops a deliverable, potentially shippable product. A typical Agile project consists of a series of iterations, along with a planning meeting prior to development and a retrospective meeting at the end of the iteration. Iterations are referred to as sprints in Scrum.

Also Known As: Sprint, timebox

How it’s Used: At the beginning of an iteration or sprint, the product owner and team decide which requirements to complete during the iteration. The duration of an iteration may vary from project to project.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Enables teams to work effectively with customers.
  • Encourages feedback throughout the iteration.
  • Helps prevent feature creep.
  • Reduces risk of timelines slippage.

Iterative Development

Definition: Iterative development is the process of breaking down projects into more manageable components known as iterations. Iterations are essential in Agile methodologies for producing a potentially shippable deliverable or product.

Also Known As: Incremental development

How it’s Used: In iterative development, Agile teams design, develop, and test code in repeated cycles. After each iteration is complete, the team gathers user feedback and then uses those insights to build the next iteration of the product. Iterative development allows teams to assess and adapt their processes, which leads to continuous improvement.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Improves customer satisfaction.
  • Adds value to product.
  • Enables faster delivery of working software or product.
  • Leads to continuous improvement.

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Kanban

Definition: Kanban is a highly visual framework that falls under the Agile umbrella. The Kanban process uses continuous work flow rather than fixed iterations to produce shippable deliverables. When applied over an existing process, Kanban encourages small, incremental changes to the current process and does not require a specific set up or procedure. Kanban focuses on completing entire projects rather than sprints.

How it’s Used: Rather than being assigned tasks, team members pull work from the product backlog. The only constraint in Kanban are limits (WIP limits) placed on the amount of work that exists in the pipeline at any given time. Kanban helps teams reduce cycle time, optimize workflow, and increase productivity, leading to continuous improvement.

Kanban is one flavor of Agile methodology. It is used primarily in software development, but can be used in any kind of project in any industry. 

Project Management Benefits:

  • Increases team efficiency.
  • Allows flexibility and easily accommodates change.
  • Reduces cycle time.
  • Improves workflow.
  • Leads to continuous improvement.
  • Increases team’s ability to forecast future work.

Lean Software Development (LSD)

Definition: Lean Software Development is an example of lightweight Agile methodology applied to project development. Lean Software Development combines the Lean manufacturing approach pioneered by Toyota in the 1950s (also known as just-in-time production) and Lean IT principles, and applies them to software. LSD places a strong emphasis on people and effective communication.

LSD is defined by seven principles: 

  1. Eliminate waste
  2. Create knowledge
  3. Build quality in
  4. Defer commitment
  5. Optimize the whole
  6. Deliver fast
  7. Respect people

How it’s Used: The key goal of Lean Software Development is to reduce or eliminate waste, and therefore, focuses on streamlining products to include only the most valuable features and delivering them in increments. Prioritization of backlog, short feedback loops, frequent unit testing, and team efficiency are all components of Lean Software Development. LSD employs the Kanban approach of pulling work from the backlog, and improving workflow speed and efficiency. 

Project Management Benefits:

  • Reduces overall project costs.
  • Increases workflow efficiency and speed.
  • Enables faster delivery of working software.
  • Increases motivation of team due to decision-making empowerment.

Pair Programming

Definition: Pair programming is a scenario where two programmers share a single workstation and work together to develop a single feature. 

Also Known As: Pairing, paired programming, programming in pairs

How it’s Used: One programmer, the driver, writes the code, while the other, the navigator, reviews the code as it’s written and provides strategic direction. The two programmers switch roles periodically throughout the task. One or both programmers keep a running commentary during the development process.

For pairing to be effective, the workstation needs to be able to accommodate both programmers—at the least, the desk should have enough room to easily accommodate two chairs. The room’s noise level should be controlled and should not be any louder than the muted conversation of the individual pair or multiple pairings.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Results in higher quality code.
  • Increases skill transfer.
  • Allows for cross-training among team members.
  • Encourages communication.
  • Clarifies problems and speeds up the decision-making process.

Planning Game

Definition: A Planning Game refers to a planning meeting held to decide which user stories to include in the next iteration or release.

How it’s Used: The planning game is attended by project, IT, and business stakeholders. Participants select which user stories will provide the greatest business value to the product or project, given current  workload estimates.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Increases communication between IT and business stakeholders.
  • Improves likelihood of delivering working software with each release or iteration.

Planning Poker

Definition: Planning Poker is a team building exercise or game used to arrive at a group consensus for estimating workload. 

How It’s Used: Players use cards printed with numbers from the Fibonacci sequence to assign story points to user stories in order to estimate workload. The team must reach a group consensus regarding how long user stories or requirements will take to complete. Alternatively, teams can use other forms of relative estimation, such as tee-shirt sizing. 

Project Management Benefits:

  • Provides benefit of collective team knowledge and experience.
  • Encourages brainstorming and generation of ideas.
  • Promotes problem solving.
  • Stimulates team collaboration.
  • Increases accuracy of estimates.

Product Backlog

Definition: A product backlog is the list of requirements requested by the customer. The product backlog is not a ‘to-do’ list; rather, it is a list of all the features the customer has requested be included in the project. The Scrum team uses the product backlog to prioritize features and decide which ones to implement in upcoming sprints.

How It’s Used: The product owner is responsible for prioritizing Items in the product backlog, referred to as Product Backlog Items (PBIs). The development team pulls the highest-priority PBIs from the product backlog to complete during each sprint. The product owner changes and re-prioritizes the backlog throughout the project development process as needed.

Also Known As: backlog

Project Management Benefits:

  • Communicates the priority of Product Backlog Items.
  • Allows for longer term planning.
  • Ensures the customer needs are being heard.
  • Allows team members to pull highest-priority items as needed (in Kanban teams).

Product Backlog Item (PBI)

Definition: A Product Backlog Item (PBI) is a single element of work that exists in the product backlog. PBIs can include user stories, epics, specifications, bugs, or change requirements. The product owner of an Agile team compiles and prioritizes the product backlog, putting the most urgent or important PBIs at the top. PBIs comprise tasks that need to be completed during a Scrum sprint—a PBI must be a small enough increment of work to be completed during a single sprint. As PBIs move up to a higher priority in the product backlog, they are broken down into user stories.

How it’s Used: Developers pull the highest-priority PBIs from the backlog to work on, either by iteration in a Scrum environment or continually in a Kanban environment. 

Project Management Benefits:

  • Allows the team to quantify and schedule individual elements of work to be completed during a single sprint.
  • Ensures that the customer is getting the right product to meet their needs.

Product Owner

Definition: As a member of the Agile team, the Product Owner represents the customer, and conveys the customer’s requirements and vision to the team. The product owner writes the acceptance criteria, and prioritizes and maintains the product backlog. Product owners should be able to communicate well in both directions: both taking team concerns to the customer and stakeholders, and ensuring that the team stays on track to meet the customer’s vision for the product.

How it’s Used: In a Scrum environment, the product owner assembles and prioritizes the user stories to be completed during a sprint. During the sprint, the product owner remains silent; he or she cannot make changes or offer feedback. Once the sprint is complete, the product owner meets with team members and stakeholders to offer feedback and discuss avenues for improvement. The product owner accepts or rejects the product at the end of the sprint, based on the acceptance criteria decided on during the spring planning meeting.

In a Kanban environment, the Product Owner assembles and prioritizes a backlog of work items to be accomplished. The product owner has the flexibility to change and reprioritize work in the backlog at any time without affecting work already in progress.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Increased team understanding of customer’s vision and final product.
  • Increased communication and trust among customer, team, and stakeholders.
  • Increased support for the team from outside parties.

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Refactoring

Definition: Refactoring code means to improve, clarify, and streamline the internal structure of existing code without affecting its external behavior. Refactoring does not include rewriting code or fixing bugs. The noun “refactoring” refers to specific, finite methods for refactoring code, such as using Extract Method to clarify the purpose of a piece of code.

How it’s Used: Refactoring is used in Agile to maintain code clarity and extensibility between sprint iterations.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Keeps code clean and easy to read.
  • Prevents code duplication.
  • Makes bugs easier identify and fix.
  • Makes code easier to maintain and extend.

Relative Estimation

Definition: Relative estimation is one of several types of estimations Agile teams use to determine the amount of effort needed to complete project tasks. Tasks or user stories are compared against equivalent, previously completed tasks or group of tasks of similar difficulty. 

Also Known As: Silent grouping, affinity testing 

How it’s Used: Agile teams use relative estimation to assess time and effort needed to complete a task or user story based on how long a similar task took to complete. Teams often use a non-numerical scale to compare tasks, such as tee-shirt sizing, where task effort is assessed as extra-small, small, medium, large, or extra-large.

Project Management Benefits: 

  • Provides accurate estimates for release dates and future forecasting.
  • Eliminates time wasted on precision estimations.
  • Eliminates confusion between estimates and commitments.
  • Leads to increased customer satisfaction.

Release

Definition: An Agile release refers to the final delivery of a software package after the completion of multiple iterations or sprints. A release can be either the initial build of an application or the addition of one or more features to an existing application. A release should take less than a year to complete, and in some cases, may only take three months.

How it’s Used: Agile teams use the amount of time planned for a software release divided by iteration velocity to determine the number of iterations needed to develop the software needed for the release. 

Project Management Benefits:

  • Provides a tangible goal.
  • Clarifies the customer’s requirements and vision.
  • Allows for preliminary release of alpha or beta versions after the completion of several iterations.

Release Plan

Definition: A Release Plan outlines the features to be included in an upcoming release and provides an estimated date for the release. The plan should include responsibilities, resources, and activities  required to complete the release.

How it’s Used: The release plan is broken down into individual sprints needed to complete the release and what each sprint will accomplish. The release date is estimated based on the number of sprints to be included multiplied by the team’s sprint velocity.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Provides an accurate estimation of total time and resources needed to complete the release.
  • Provides teams with a common understanding and vision of what needs to be accomplished.
  • Guides product owners in prioritizing stories and tasks.
  • Guides team members in making decisions.
  • Helps teams avoid going off on a tangent with unplanned work.

Scrum

Definition: Scrum is the most widely used framework under the Agile umbrella. Scrum is an iterative software model that follows a set of predefined roles, responsibilities, and meetings. 
In Scrum, iterations are called sprints and are assigned a fixed length—sprints typically last one to two weeks, but can last as long a month. 

How it’s Used: Scrum methodology designates three specific roles for each Scrum project: the Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Scrum Team. A Scrum project is characterized by product backlog, sprint planning, backlog refinement, daily Scrum meetings, sprint review meeting, and sprint retrospective meeting. 

The completion of a Scrum sprint produces an increment of functional and potentially shippable software. Using Scrum, increments of software can be delivered to the customer periodically, rather than waiting for the final software release.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Increases team accountability.
  • Easily accommodates changes during the project.
  • Decreases costs by identifying issues as soon as they arise.

Scrum Team

Definition: A Scrum team typically comprises five to nine members with cross-functional skills. Unlike traditional teams of developers, there are no specific roles. A Scrum team is self-organized and self-contained—the team should have the right amount of members with the appropriate skills needed to complete the sprint.

How it’s Used: A Scrum team works together toward completing sprints and producing a functional and potentially shippable increment of software. At the end of the sprint, the team holds a sprint review with the product owner and stakeholders to demonstrate what the sprint has accomplished, review issues, and obtain feedback. A separate sprint retrospective meeting allows team members to discuss feedback and improvements needed for the next sprint. 

Project Management Benefits:

  • Increases a sense of trust and accountability among team members.
  • Leads to continuous improvement through feedback and brainstorming.
  • Fosters leadership on the part of all team members, not just a selected few.

Scrum Master

Definition: The Scrum Master is often viewed as the coach for the team. He or she organizes meetings, resolves roadblocks and issues, and works with the product owner to make sure the product backlog is up to date. The Scrum Master does not have any authority over team members, however, he or she does have authority over the process. A Scrum Master may complete formal training to become a certified Scrum Master but this is not required.

How it’s Used: The Scrum Master facilitates the Daily Scrum meetings, determines the sprint durations for the project, and tracks workflow progress. He or she works with the product owner to make sure product backlog is current and removes any impediments to workflow. The Scrum Master ensures that team members aren’t overloaded and are able to perform to their full potential. 

Project Management Benefits:

  • Ensures team members are following the most efficient Scrum process.
  • Guards against team complacency.
  • Guides team toward continuous improvement.
  • Keeps team members involved both with the project and the Scrum process.

Scrum of Scrums

Definition: A Scrum of Scrums meeting is a scaling mechanism used to manage large projects involving Scrum multiple teams. A Scrum of Scrums is held to facilitate communication between teams that may have dependencies on one another. One member from each team attends the Scrum of Scrums to speak for the team—this could be the Scrum Master but may be any team member who can effectively relay information and handle questions or concerns for the team.

How it’s Used: If a Scrum team is working on a large project that involve dependencies, risks, or issues that could impact another team team’s sprint, a Scrum of Scrums is scheduled as a communication forum for discussing or resolving these issues. 

Project Management Benefits:

  • Facilitates communication and promotes collaboration between teams.
  • Allows multiple teams to see the ‘bigger picture’ of the project and how one team’s sprint is impacting another.
  • Reduces risk of one team’s work adversely impacting another’s.
  • Helps teams address issues and make small course corrections, if needed.
  • Optimizes project workflow.

Scrumban

Definition: Scrumban is a hybrid of Scrum and Kanban used to accomplish tasks and produce deliverables.

How It’s Used: Scrumban is used when a Scrum team wants to apply some Kanban methodology into their process by focusing in on work-in-progress and continuous improvement. Or, a Kanban team may want to apply some Scrum structure into their process, such as daily standups or roles.  

Project Management Benefits:

  • Combines best practices of both methods to enhance the team’s process.
  • Provides teams with flexibility to adapt their process in the way that is best for them.
  • Balances team capacity vs. demand.
  • Enhances visualization for a Scrum team.
  • Steers teams toward a long-term evolution of continuous improvement.

Spike

Definition: A Spike refers to a separate timeboxed user story or task that is created in order to research a question or resolve a problem. A spike focuses on gathering information and providing an answer to a question, rather than producing a shippable product.
 
How it’s Used: A Spike is created when a user story or task cannot be accurately estimated until the Agile team can conduct further research or investigation. The spike produces a specific output—an estimate for the original user story—so that the sprint can move forward. 

Project Management Benefits:

  • Increases the accuracy and reliability of user story estimates.
  • Increases team understanding of a user story or PBI requirement.
  • Reduces risk of wasted or ‘stray’ work.

Sprint

Definition: A sprint is a fixed-length iteration during which one user story or product backlog item (PBI) is transformed into a potentially shippable deliverable. Each sprint is assigned a set amount of time to be accomplished (sometimes referred to as Timeboxing), which could be anywhere from one week to one month, but typically lasts two weeks. 

How it’s Used: Each sprint begins with a planning meeting between the product owner and Scrum team to decide what amount of work can be realistically accomplished while still meeting the Product Owner’s or customer’s requirements. The Scrum Master determines the sprint length; sprint lengths should be consistent for the entire project.

At the end of the sprint, the team demonstrates the resulting product or piece of software to the product owner. He or she provides feedback to the team and either accepts or rejects the product, based on the acceptance criteria established in the sprint planning meeting. Once all the sprints for a project are completed, the team should be ready to release a final software package.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Keeps teams from feeling overwhelmed.
  • Promotes predictability and reliability for customer deliverables.
  • Shortens feedback loops.
  • Keeps work from getting too far into development before problems are found.

Sprint Backlog

Definition: A sprint backlog is a segment of Product Backlog Items (PBIs) that the team selects to complete during a Scrum sprint. These PBIs are typically user stories taken from the product backlog.  

How It’s Used: During the sprint planning meeting, the team decides which PBIs or user stories to include in the next sprint, based on the estimated work effort and team capacity needed to complete each one. The team breaks the PBI’s or user stories down into tasks and assigns an estimate in work hours for completing each task. 

Also Known As: iteration backlog 

Project Management Benefits:

  • Ensures that the highest-priority PBIs are completed first.
  • Allows for longer term planning.
  • Breaks down work into manageable components.
  • Allows the team to determine the amount of PBIs they can accomplish during the sprint.

Sprint Planning Meeting

Definition: The Sprint Planning Meeting is a working session held before the start of each sprint to reach a mutual consensus between the product owner’s acceptance criteria and the amount of work the development team can realistically accomplish by the end of the sprint. The length of the sprint determines the length of the planning meeting, with two hours being equivalent to one week of the sprint. Using this formula, the planning meeting for a two-week sprint would last about four hours, although this can vary.

How it’s Used: The Sprint Planning Meeting sets the stage for the sprint. The Scrum Master facilitates the meeting while the product owner presents and prioritizes the Product Backlog Items (PBIs) or user stories to be completed by the end of the sprint. The team then breaks down the PBIs or user stories into manageable tasks. Ultimately, the team determines the amount of work they can accomplish during the sprint.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Establishes a clear goal for the team.
  • Results in team commitment to completing the number of PBIs and tasks agreed to during the planning meeting.
  • Prevents team overload during the sprint.

Sprint Plan

Definition: The Sprint plan is the tangible outcome of a Sprint Planning Meeting. The Sprint plan is a written document assembled by the development team and includes 1) the goal for the sprint—a brief description of the product or deliverable to be completed by the end of the sprint, and 2) a detailed list of the Product Backlog Items (PBIs) or user stories the team has committed to completing by the end of the sprint, based on the team’s availability and velocity. Each PBI or user story is broken down into tasks according to the priority set by the product owner and assigned to a team member. 

How it’s Used: The Sprint plan is a roadmap for team members to refer to and follow during the sprint. This plan provides the product owner and Scrum team with a written agreement as to what the team has committed to accomplishing during the sprint.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Establishes a clear goal for the sprint.
  • Keeps development on track.
  • Prevents the product owner or other parties from giving the team additional work.
  • Discourages team members from deviating from completing agreed-upon tasks.
  • Provides a tangible document for review after the sprint is completed to determine whether workload and sprint times were realistic.

Sprint Retrospective

Definition: A Scrum Retrospective is a meeting held following the completion of a sprint to discuss whether the sprint was successful and to identify improvements to be incorporated into the next sprint. 

How it’s Used: The Scrum team holds a retrospective meeting to briefly analyze the sprint, and identify one or two priority items for the team to address during the next sprint. The intent of the retrospective is not to conduct an extensive post-mortem but rather, to focus on specific steps the team can take moving forward toward a goal of continuous improvement. Retrospectives are typically broken down into three parts: data gathering, data analysis, and action items.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Teams learn from mistakes and collaborate together to arrive at solutions.
  • Improvements are immediately incorporated into the Agile process.
  • Energizes team to brainstorm solutions to issues.
  • Releases frustration and stress.
  • Process of continuous improvement leads to better value for customer.
  • Empowers team.

Sprint Review

Definition: The Scrum team holds a Sprint Review meeting immediately following the completion of a sprint to review and demonstrate what the team has accomplished during the sprint. This meeting is attended by the product owner or customer, Scrum Master, Scrum team, and stakeholders. The Sprint Review is an informal meeting (no Powerpoint slides allowed). The length of the sprint determines the length of the review meeting, with one hour being equivalent to one week of the sprint. Using this formula, the planning meeting for a two-week sprint would last two hours, although this can vary.

How it’s Used: The purpose of the Sprint Review is to assess what happened during the sprint and to determine whether the sprint produced a functional, and potentially shippable, deliverable. The team presents or demonstrates the deliverable developed during the sprint. The product owner provides feedback to the team and decides if the deliverable meets the acceptance criteria, and either accepts or rejects the product.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Determines whether the goal of the sprint was met.
  • Demonstrates visual result of sprint.
  • Provides immediate opportunity for feedback from the product owner, customer, and other stakeholders.
  • Reveals areas where improvement is needed.

Stakeholder

Definition: A stakeholder loosely refers to anyone outside the Scrum team who has an interest in the product that the team is producing. Stakeholders can include but are not limited to direct managers, subject matter experts, account managers, salespeople, and legal officers. 

How it’s Used: While Stakeholders do not hold an official role in Agile, the customer is considered to be the most important. The overriding Agile goal is to add value to each product or deliverable produced by the iteration or sprint. Product acceptance depends on whether the Product Owner, acting on behalf of the customer, is satisfied that the customer’s acceptance criteria has been met. Other Stakeholders may have varying roles.
 
Project Management Benefits:

  • Ensures that customer’s needs and vision are accurately met.
  • Increases customer’s trust in team’s ability to deliver a high-quality product.
  • Alerts account managers of budget required for iterations.
  • Informs salespeople of products in the pipeline.
  • Encourages stakeholders to be engaged with the process.

Standup/daily meeting

Definition: Agile teams hold a 15-minute standup meeting each morning in the same location to communicate their current work status during an iteration or sprint. The idea of a standup is that it should be relevant, yet brief enough that team members don’t become uncomfortable with standing.

Also Known As: Daily Scrum, daily standup, daily huddle

How it’s Used: During a standup, Agile team members gather around the team’s physical task board to  share progress, report impediments, and make commitments for the current iteration or sprint. Teams typically answer three questions about their work status:

  1. What did I accomplish yesterday?
  2. What will I commit to, or complete, today?
  3. What impediments or obstacles are preventing me from meeting my commitments?

All discussion during the standup should be focused on answering these three questions. Other questions that arise are addressed outside of the standup. 

Project Management Benefits:

  • Keeps workflow on track.
  • Keeps the meeting short (due to standing).
  • Helps identify issues sooner than later.
  • Increases team accountability, communication, and collaboration.
  • Stimulates team self-organization and personal planning.
  • Helps team members address issues and make small course corrections, if needed.
  • Provides face-to-face interaction (if on site).

Story

Definition: A story, or user story, is a brief, non-technical statement of a software system requirement written from the end-user’s point of view. A story is written according to the following structure: as a <type of user>, I want to <perform some task> so I can <achieve some goal.>

How it’s Used: The product owner prioritizes the stories to be included in each sprint during the sprint planning meeting. The team assigns story points to each story to estimate workload effort, and then breaks the stories down into tasks to be completed during the sprint. When the iteration or sprint is completed, the team should have produced a functional product or deliverable that corresponds to the initial requirement specified in the story.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Increases productivity.
  • Provides teams with a clear understanding of software requirements and acceptance criteria.
  • Provides flexibility for the product owner or customer to make small changes before the story is implemented.
  • Promotes continuous improvement.
  • Increases product value and quality.
  • Reduces risk of defects.

Story Points

Definition: Story points are a non-unit measure used to determine the complexity of a user story. Story points are relative, not absolute, and do not relate to actual hours—they can be anything from tee-shirt sizes to the Fibonacci Sequence. 

How it’s Used: Story points are used to determine workload effort for a user story. Planning Poker is one example of how teams may use and assign story points to arrive at a workload estimate.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Provides a common measure of workload for cross-functional team members who work at different speeds.
  • Prevents teams from spending too much time attempting to make precise estimates.

Story Mapping

Definition: Story mapping refers to a top-down visualization, or roadmap, of product backlog. The story map starts with a goal or specific functionality, which is then broken down into user stories. A story map is created in tree format either physically, using post-its on a wall, or digitally.

How it’s Used: Story mapping provides the team and stakeholders with a visual representation of product backlog and prioritized user stories that need to be completed.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Provides visual, holistic representation of backlog.
  • Increases understanding of goals or functionality requirements.
  • Reveals holes in product backlog.
  • Increases value to customers.

Swarming

Definition: Swarming is when team members with appropriate skills work together to complete a task that a team member is having trouble completing on his or her own.

How It’s Used: Swarming is used to quickly bring a task or work item to completion before moving on to the next in order to keep workflow and delivery on track. Kanban teams in particular use swarming to ensure continuous workflow and maintain Work-in-Progress (WIP) limits.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Keeps workflow and delivery on track.
  • Maintains WIP limits in Kanban.
  • Encourages team collaboration.

Sustainable Pace

Definition: The Sustainable Pace is the pace that an Agile team can work at indefinitely without resulting in developer burnout (ideally 40 hours per week).

How it’s Used: Sustainable Pace is established to ensure that an Agile team is performing optimally without the need for overtime, evening, or weekend work. Working at a sustainable pace helps expose and remedy scheduling, management, or quality deficiencies that otherwise might be hidden by overtime work. 

Project Management Benefits:

  • Promotes work-life balance.
  • Promotes optimal performance.
  • Keeps team members refreshed.
  • Increases productivity.

T-Z

Task

Definition: A task is a single unit of work broken down from a user story. A task is usually completed by just one person.

How it’s Used: Task is used in Scrum to identify a small increment of work to be completed by a team member during a sprint. The team visually identifies a task to be completed by posting a card or post-it note on their task board.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Breaks user stories down into manageable units.
  • Empowers team members to complete a task or tasks without feeling overwhelmed.
  • Easy to identify on Agile taskboards.

Task Board

Definition: An Agile task board is a physical or online visual representation of user stories broken down into tasks or work units. A physical task board can be as simple as a whiteboard with three columns labeled To Do, Doing, and Done; colored post-it notes or index cards representing tasks are placed in  the column that reflects the task’s current state. A task board can be expanded to hold more columns and can also include horizontal swim lanes. 

How it’s Used: The task board serves as the key visual communication tool for both Scrum and Kanban teams and should always be kept up to date. The board serves as the focal point for Daily Scrums and therefore, should be located in an area large enough area for team members to gather around it, and convenient enough for team members to refer to at other times of the day. 

As teams progress through a sprint or iteration, they move task cards horizontally across the board to reflect the task’s current work state. The task board can be enhanced with color-coded post-it notes and sticky dots to represent priority, status, assignees, etc. Kanban task boards should always display a numeric value for denoting Work-in-Progress limits.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Keeps teams on track.
  • Is easy to use and maintain.
  • Enhances team communication.
  • Improves productivity.
  • Promotes continuous improvement (in Kanban).

Team/Team Member

Definition: In an Agile, Scrum, or Kanban environment, a team is a small, high-functioning group of five to nine people who collaboratively work together to complete an iteration or project. The team has the necessary skills and competencies to work on the project. Scrum teams are cross-functional; Kanban teams can either be cross-functional or specialists. 

Team members have no roles assigned—the team does not include the Product Owner or Scrum Master. A team member may be a developer, designer, tester, technical writer, or or any other qualified individual needed to produce a deliverable. 

How it’s Used: An Agile team works together to complete a user story or project. Each member works on single task or work unit. All team members are accountable and responsible to helping the team reach its goals.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Increases productivity.
  • Leads to continuous improvement and evolution (especially on Kanban teams).
  • Empowers team members to exercise leadership and build commitment.
  • Increases sense of ownership for project.

Technical Debt

Definition: Technical debt refers to the obligation a development team incurs when they use a short-term, expedient approach to developing a software package without considering the long-term consequences. Technical debt increases project cost and complexity due to inefficiencies, inaccuracies, and other issues introduced into the software package. Poor management, incompetency, timeline pressure, or inadvertent mistakes can all contribute to technical debt.

How it’s Used: Technical debt is used as a motivation for the team to focus on quality and added value during development. This can translate into diligently and consistently refactoring and reviewing code, running automated unit tests, and integrating code on a consistent basis. Pair programming is often helpful in guarding against technical debt. Creating an environment where team members are encouraged to increase relevant knowledge and experience also helps prevent technical debt.

Project Management Concerns:

  • Reduces product quality.
  • Results in high defect rates.
  • Reduces productivity.
  • Reduces workflow velocity.
  • Reduces the quality of code maintenance.
  • Results in expensive modifications and implementations.

Test-Driven Development (TDD)

Definition: Test-Driven Development is the practice of designing and building tests for functional, working code, and then building code that will pass those tests. 

How it’s Used: TDD helps increase the team’s understanding of the code’s purpose and how it should work before beginning development. The team then writes code that meets the test criteria. Teams using TDD create more streamlined and higher quality code that meets test and acceptance criteria.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Increases work velocity.
  • Increases code quality.
  • Reduces re-work.
  • Reduces debugging time.
  • Reduces defect rate.
  • Produces test document for reference.
  • Simplifies code.
  • Provides quick feedback loop.

Timebox

Definition: A timebox refers to an assigned period of time during which an individual or team works toward an established goal. The team stops work when the time period concludes, rather than when work is completed. The team then assesses how much work was accomplished toward the specified goal.

How it’s Used: Timeboxes are implemented in Agile software development to increase quality and value when producing a deliverable. In particular, timeboxes are applied in Scrum sprints, as well as spikes, where tasks are assigned fixed lengths. Any work not completed within the timebox is either reassigned to another iteration or reprioritized.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Increases focus on tasks or issues that add the most value.
  • Ensures that customers needs are met.
  • Reduces feature creep.
  • Provides short feedback loop.
  • Ensures that the most important features are included in the software package.

Unit Testing

Definition: A unit test is a short program fragment written for testing and verifying a piece of code once it is completed. A piece of code either passes or fails the unit test. The unit test (or a group of tests, known as a test suite) is the first level of testing a software development product.

How it’s Used: Developers write a unit test for a small piece of code they are developing to document to verify that the code works correctly. Unit tests should also be written for bug fixes. When code is modified, moved, or deleted, the unit test must be edited to reflect that change and then re-run.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Identifies software bugs early in the development process.
  • Provides documentation for each piece of code.
  • Provides short feedback loop.
  • Helps integration testing run more smoothly.

User Story

Definition: A user story is a brief, non-technical description of a software system requirement written from the customer’s or end-user’s point of view. Either the product owner or the team writes the user stories according to the following structure: as a <type of user>, I want to <perform some task> so I can <achieve some goal.>

How it’s Used: The product owner breaks Product Backlog Items (PBIs) down into user stories. To assess the workload effort needed to complete the story, user stories are assigned story points. Once the product owner prioritizes the user stories, team breaks the highest priority story down into tasks to be completed during the next iteration or sprint. The Agile team uses these stories to create code that will meet the customer’s requirements. When the iteration or sprint is completed, the team should have produced a functional and potentially shippable product or deliverable, corresponding to the requirement specified in the user story.

Project Management Benefits:

  • Increases productivity.
  • Provides teams with a clear understanding of software requirements and acceptance criteria.
  • Provides teams with ongoing or frequent feedback.
  • Provides flexibility for the product owner or customer to make small changes before the story is implemented.
  • Promotes continuous improvement.
  • Increases product value and quality.
  • Reduces risk of defects.

User Persona

Definition: A User Persona is a detailed hypothetical description or biography of a typical end-user who will be using the product. Personas usually take the form of a written document, complete with stock photo, name, profession, style of living, and other details pertinent to their being categorized as an end-user.

How it’s Used: Agile designers and developers use personas as a guide toward developing a product that fit the needs of a specific type of end-user, or multiple types of end-users. The team may use personas to decide whether to add specific features, interactions, or visual cues to the product.

Project Management Benefits:
Increases team awareness of the type or types of end-users they are targeting.
Increases the value and integrity of the resulting product or deliverable.
Produces a more focused, realistic, and streamlined product or deliverable that doesn’t try to please everybody.
Provides a focal point for developers who need to determine what to include.

Velocity

Definition: Velocity is a metric that specifies how much work  a team is able to complete within a single, fixed-length iteration or sprint.

How It’s Used: Development teams use velocity as a means to forecast the work effort needed to complete future sprints, as long as the composition of the team and sprint duration remain the same. Velocity is also used as a means to estimate the time it will take to complete the product backlog: the team divides their established velocity by the total number of user stories or the sum of story points to determine the number of iterations needed to complete the backlog. 

Project Management Benefits:

  • Decreases amount of time needed to estimate future work.
  • Provides more accurate workload estimations and timeboxing.
  • Provides flexibility to adjust estimates.
  • Helps with resource and release planning.

Work in Progress (WIP) Limits

Definition: Work-in-Progress (WIP) limits refers to work that is currently being developed and not yet ready to be released as a deliverable. For Scrum teams, this would apply to the work being accomplished during a sprint. For Kanban teams, this refers to work that has been pulled from the backlog and is being developed, indicated by cards in the ‘Doing’ or ‘Work-in-Progress’ column of the Kanban task board. 

How it’s Used: Work-in-progress (WIP) limits are the only constraint used in Kanban methodology. Kanban teams establish and post a number on the Kanban board that represents the number of stories or work items that can exist in the pipeline at any one time (indicated by cards or post-it notes placed in the Work-in-Progress column of the Kanban board). These limits are referred to as Work-in-Progress or WIP limits, and are designed to keep work flowing smoothly and reveal any bottlenecks. 

Applying WIP limits forces the team to focus on a limited number of tasks and drive work to completion—no new work can be entered into the WIP column until the team completes the current work. WIP limits that are exceeded or set too high can jeopardize workflow and delivery. WIP limits can also be applied within Scrum teams to keep work flowing smoothly (see Scrumban). 

Project Management Benefits:

  • Reveal bottlenecks in the workflow.
  • Indicate when one or more team members may be overloaded.
  • Keep work flowing smoothly through the pipeline.
  • Increase productivity.
  • Promote continuous improvement.

Using Smartsheet as Your Agile Project Management Tool

Smartsheet is a spreadsheet-based task and project management tool with powerful collaboration and communication features. Smartsheet offers four flexible and easy-to-use interfaces—Gantt Chart, Card View, Calendar, and a traditional spreadsheet to help you manage your Agile iterations and processes. This multi-view functionality let’s you categorize and filter both project and task data, while simultaneously acting as a single data hub for all project information.

Smartsheet provides a highly visual tool for Agile teams to manage projects and monitor iteration progress. Teams can use Smartsheet’s spreadsheet-like interface and embedded, interactive Gantt chart to organize and prioritize Agile iterations, Scrum sprints, or Kanban workflows. Your Agile team will save hours when tracking sprints and preparing sprint status for daily Scrums, and sprint review data for sprint reviews and retrospectives.

Smartsheet’s Card View lets you visually prioritize work and simulate the behavior of a physical Agile task board: you can easily track tasks during a sprint by dragging and dropping virtual cards through each stage of the work process. Customize your cards with symbols, notes, and images to provide a quick visual of task status. Furthermore, Smartsheet lets you intuitively change lanes and filter cards to view your workflow from multiple perspectives. 

Share your Agile task board with other stakeholders for easy collaboration, and to keep everyone up to date on task and project status. 

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The Ultimate Agile Dictionary

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