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Agile Terminology Cheat Sheet

Agile terminology cheat sheet

Anthony Mersino

Wed Nov 22 2023

10:19 AM

Article at a glance
    • For several years, Vitality Chicago has been providing a glossary of terms in our agile and Scrum training classes.
    • This year, we have updated and enhanced the glossary of agile terms and created a free downloadable resource called the Agile Cheat Sheet of Terms.
    • The cheat sheet contains 125 of the most popular Agile terms and is particularly beneficial for those new to Agile or looking to master Agile practices.

For several years now I’ve been including a glossary of Agile Terms as a handout in my classes. I decided this year to invest in updating the list to make it current and spruce up the appearance. I hope that you find it helpful!

An Agile Cheat Sheet of Terms

As a result, we now have a beautiful and powerful tool that provides the meaning of over 200 commonly used agile terms. This Agile Cheat Sheet is particularly useful for people who are new to agile or who want to master agile ways of working.And best of all – our new Agile Cheat Sheet is free to download and use.

There are a lot of terms! We had to whittle down our original list of nearly 300 terms to the 125 most important most relevant ones. If you don’t agree with our priorities, please leave a comment about the terms you would like to add or delete from our list.

Download Your Free Agile Cheat Sheet of Terms Today

You can download your copy here: Downloadable Agile Cheat Sheet of Terms
Agile glossary of terms
Here are the terms included in our Cheat Sheet:

Term Definition
Absolute Estimation An estimation approach that uses hours, days or weeks; often contrasted with relative estimating approaches.
Acceptance Criteria Acceptance Criteria are often used as tests of the completeness or behavior of a feature being developed.
Acceptance Test Driven Development (ATDD) An approach for testing that begins with the customer acceptance criteria.
Acceptance Testing Tests that are performed by the end-users or client to determine whether an application or feature fulfills its purpose.
Adaptation One of the 3 pillars of empiricism; adaptation is the changes that are adopted by the team based on what is learned in inspection.
Adaptive Approach Often used in contrast to predictive approaches, adaptive approaches introduce flexibility and responsiveness to change.
Agile Agile is a mindset and set of values that centers around people and using incremental and iterative steps to deliver value.
Agile Champions Agile Champions are advocates for agile ways of working in an organization; they support change within the organization and remove impediments.
Agile Manifesto Formally called the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, the Manifesto is a set of 4 Values and 12 Principles developed by thought leaders in 2001.
Agile Mindset A flexible way of thinking that enables people to respond quickly and adapt to change.
Agile Principle There are 12 Agile Principles that were created as part of the Agile Manifesto in 2001. Formally called the Principles behind the Manifesto.
Agile Release Train (ART) Used in the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), a team of Agile teams, which develops, delivers, and possibly operates, one or more solutions in a value stream.
Agile Release Train Engineer (RTE) Used in the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), the RTE is a servant leader and coach for the Agile Release Train (ART).
Agile Software Development A development approach where small, self-organizing teams leverage close collaboration and short delivery cycles to reduce cost and speed development.
Agile Transformation The process of transitioning the process and culture of an organization away from traditional or waterfall to an approach based on agile principles and thinking.
Agile Values The 4 value statements that are part of the Agile Manifesto created in 2001 when agile was formally launched.
Agile Working Group Advocates for agile ways of working in an organization; they support change within the organization and remove impediments. See also Agile Champions.
Artifacts A term in Scrum for the 3 tools that support team development; Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog and Increment.
Automated Build Automated builds include retrieval of source code, compilation into binary code, automated tests, and publishing the build to a common repository.
Automated Test A key feature of XP, automated tests are unit level tests of functionality that are run on code check-in or a set times throughout the day.
Backlog A prioritized list of items, features, or requirements that an agile needs to complete. See Product Backlog and Sprint Backlog.
Batch Size Reduction Reductions in the size of work items. Small batches go through the system more quickly which reduces risks and speeds feedback and learning.
Behavior Driven Development (BDD) An agile development approach that encourages close collaboration between developers, testers and customers.
Bottleneck A process or operation that has limited capacity and reduces the capacity of the entire chain of events.
Burndown Chart A burndown chart is a visual tool for measuring and displaying team progress for completing a sprint or a release.
Burnup Chart A burnup chart is a visual tool for measuring and displaying team progress; typically used for progress of a release.
Business Agility The ability to compete and thrive by quickly responding to market changes and emerging opportunities with innovative solutions.
Business Value The perceived worth of a backlog item or feature from the perspective of the customer.
Capacity A measure of the scope of work an agile team can take on based on available team members and work days.
COD – Cost of Delay The potential loss from not delivering value to the market at the right time
Collective Code Ownership All code is jointly owned; any developer can change any line of code to add functionality, fix bugs, improve designs or refactor removing a potential bottleneck.
Collocated Team Teams that can sit and work together in the same space.
Communities of Practice A common interest group that collaborate to share knowledge and tackle challenges. Frequently used in agile when functional organizations migrate to cross-functional teams.
Continuous Delivery A software development practice that leverages short cycles and small batches to release a steady stream of changes to production.
Continuous Deployment A practice that builds on continuous delivery to push new features into production without human intervention.
Continuous Integration A technical practice where new code changes are integrated into the main codebase in small batches rather than big ones. Typically includes automated testing for defects.
Cumulative Flow Diagram (CFD) A chart showing the number of work items in various queues of development. Frequently used with Kanban.
Cycle Time The time it takes for a team to deliver a work item to a customer once they begin working on it.
Daily Scrum The Daily Scrum is a short meeting of the Developers of a Scrum team to inspect their progress toward the Sprint Goal; it is timeboxed at 15 minutes.
Daily Stand-up | Daily Meeting A short daily meeting of a team where members standup so that the meeting is kept short.
Definition of Done (DoD) The Definition of Done is a team quality standard or agreement on what constitutes done for a backlog item.
Definition of Ready (DoR) A quality standard agree by the team and based on those characteristics of a backlog item that would make it ready to bring into a sprint to be worked on.
Developers In the Scrum Guide, Developers is the generic name for the team members committed to creating a usable Increment each Sprint.
DevOps  A set of technical practices that remove boundaries between teams, shorten delivery cycles, and improve quality.
Disciplined Agile Disciplined agile is an agile decision-making toolkit created by Scott Ambler and Mark Lines and acquired by PMI in 2019.
Distributed Teams Teams that are not co-located are distributed or remote.
Dot Voting A democratic technique that allows participants to choose from several alternatives.
DSDM (Dynamic systems development method) An agile methodology created in 1994 that focuses on the full project lifecycle.
Emergence The process of the coming into existence or prominence of new facts or new knowledge of a fact, or knowledge of a fact becoming visible unexpectedly.
Empirical Process Control An approach based on inspecting the results of the process and making regular adjustments.  Often contrasted with predictive approaches.
Empiricism Approach where decisions are based on observation, experience, and experimentation rather than speculation. Relies on transparency, inspection, and adaptation.
Epic A term for a very large user story that is eventually broken down into smaller stories.
Extreme Programming (XP) A lightweight agile approach based on a set of technical development practices popularized by Kent Beck in the 1990’s.
Feature Driven Development  An agile framework that organizes software development around making progress on “features” that are similar to user stories.
Feature Team An agile team with all the skills required to deliver customer needs without handoffs to other teams.
Fibonacci Sequence The sequence of numbers used for estimating in story points. The next number is derived by adding together the previous two (1,2,3,5,8,13,21…)
Flow Metrics Metrics that measure the rate of business value delivery for software products through the lens of your customers.
Frequent Releases A concept mentioned in the 12 Agile Principles that fosters short feedback cycles with customers.
Given When Then An approach or template used guide the writing of acceptance tests for a backlog item.
Impediment Things that slow team progress or prevent the team from meeting their goals.
Increment The Increment is one of 3 artifacts in Scrum. It represents a valuable subset of the overall solution delivered by the Scrum Team in a Sprint.
Incremental Development A method of developing solutions piece-by-piece. The system is broken down into small elements which are designed, built and tested independently.
Information Radiators An up-to-date display of team progress posted in a visible place. Passers-by can tell the status of the team without interrupting them.
Information Refrigerators A display of team information that requires interested parties to rummage around looking for it, often in an online tool.
Inspection The second pillar of empiricism; it involves frequently observing progress toward the agreed product goal and the current sprint goal.
INVEST An acronym used for characteristics of effective user stories; Independent, Negotiable, Valuable, Estimatable, Small and Testable.
Iteration A timeboxed period (usually two weeks) in which a development team completes a set amount of work. In Scrum the iteration is called Sprint.
Iterative Development An approach to delivering technical solutions that involves using improved versions of the solution. Often coupled with incremental development.
Kaizen Kaizen is a combination of two Japanese word that translate as good change. It has come to stand for “continuous improvement” in lean and agile ways of working.
Kanban A card-based method of managing work using a visual board with columns/boards representing each stage of the work process.
Kanban Board An information radiator used in Kanban to model the workflow of a group of people and the stages or queues that the work goes through.
Lean Software Development An agile framework based on optimizing development time and resources, eliminating waste, and delivering only what the product needs.
Lean Thinking A framework focused on organizing human activities to deliver more benefits to society and value to individuals while eliminating waste.
Milestone Retrospective A review held at the end of a project or at a major milestone to identify areas of strength and opportunities for improvement.
Minimum Marketable Feature (MMF) A minimum marketable feature is the smallest set of functionality in a product that must be provided for a customer to recognize value.
Minimum Viable Product (MVP) The smallest version of a product that has sufficient features to be usable by early customers to gain feedback and insights about customer needs.
Mob Programming A software development approach where the whole team works on the same thing, at the same time, in the same space, and on one computer.
Nexus An agile scaling framework developed by Ken Schwaber that includes up to 9 Scrum teams developing from a single product backlog.
Pair Programming An Agile software development technique introduced in Extreme Programming in which two programmers work together at one workstation.
Pairing Pairing is a variation of pair programming extended outside developers. People with various skills work together on one computer at the same time.
Participatory Decision-making A democratic technique that gives ownership of decisions to the whole group, finding effective options that everyone can live with.
Personas User archetypes that help teams have empathy for and understand the needs of end-users.
Planning Poker A team-based technique for etimating based on relative size of backlog items.
Product Backlog An emergent, ordered list of what is needed to improve the product. It is the single source of work undertaken by the Scrum Team.
Product Backlog Item A product backlog item is an individual feature or need that is included in the product backlog.
Product Backlog Refinement The ongoing act of breaking down and further defining Product Backlog items into smaller more precise items. Formerly called backlog grooming.
Product Owner Product Owner is a member of the Scrum team that represents the voice of the customer and is accountable for ensuring that the team delivers value.
Product Roadmap A high-level plan that outlines the direction, priorities, and progress of a product over time, typically 4-5 quarters.
Program Increment Planning (PI Planning) Technique for planning multiple dependent teams delivering an increment of work. Also called Big Room Planning.
Pull System A lean manufacturing strategy that relies on downstream pull signals to move materials thereby minimizing inventory, work in process, and waste.
Queue A holding place for items as they wait for the next action in a work stream. Agile teams avoid queues by reducing batch sizes and addressing bottlenecks.
Ready Similar to the Definition of Done, some teams use a Definition of Ready as a checklist to ensure items can be started and finished in the same sprint.
Refactoring Refactoring is an XP technical practice.  It is the process of improving software design, without changing the functionality.
Relative Estimation An estimation approach that uses relative measures like story points or t-shirt sizes to make fast estimates that are precise enough.
Release Incremental delivery of a product or solution; internal releases are for internal use only and external releases go to customers.
Release plan The rough agile equivalent to a project plan showing the work items and sprints needed to deliver a release of your product or solution.
Release Train (RT) Same as Agile Release Train in SAFe.
Release Train Engineer (RTE) Similar to the Scrum Master in Scrum, the RTE is a servant leader and coach for a group of agile teams participating in a Release Train.
Retrospective A Retrospective in Scrum is the last event to be held during a Sprint. Teams work together to identify and prioritize action steps they can take to improve their process.
Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) A scaling technique popularized by Dean Leffingwell that includes a set of organizational and workflow patterns for implementing agile practices at enterprise scale.
Scaling Scaling in Agile is the process of translating established team-based agile approaches like Scrum and Kanban to larger groups of people.
Scrum Scrum is a lightweight framework developed by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland that helps teams explore value through adaptive development.
Scrum Event A Scrum Event is a formal opportunity to inspect and adapt Scrum artifacts. Previously called meetings, Scrum Events also include the Sprint itself.
Scrum Master One of the accountabilities of the Scrum Team; a servant leader accountable for fostering Scrum and removing team impediments.
Scrum of Scrums A technique popularized by Jeff Sutherland to scale Scrum to multiple teams working on the same product.
Scrum team A cross-functional and self-organizing group responsible for delivering the product. The team includes all the skills needed to deliver end-to-end functionality.
Scrum Values Scrum values include Commitment, Focus, Openness, Respect, and Courage. These give direction to the Scrum Team with regard to their work, actions, and behavior.
Scrumban Scrumban is the term used for teams that use elements of Scrum (the events) along with the Kanban approach.
Self-Organization In agile, empowering teams to self-manage. A self-organizing agile team is solely responsible for assigning and tracking their own work and progress.
Spike A specific type of user story that represents a short, time-boxed piece of research or technical proof of concept.
Sprint A fixed-length timebox or iteration that serves as a container for all the Scrum events.
Sprint Backlog The Sprint Backlog is an output of Sprint Planning, where the team forecasts the backlog items and tasks that they will complete during the sprint.
Sprint Goal An overarching objective for the Sprint that communicates why the Sprint is valuable to stakeholders.
Sprint Planning A Scrum event where the Scrum Team initiates the Sprint by laying out the work to be performed during the Sprint
Sprint Retrospective The Retrospective is the Scrum event that happens at the end of every Sprint to review the team process and discuss how the team can be more effective in the future.
Sprint Review The Scrum event held at the end of each Sprint where stakeholders review and provide feedback on the product Increment.
Stakeholder Those individuals who are impacted by or invested in the success or failure of a project. May be internal or external to the organization.
Story Points Relative units of measurement used by some agile teams to quickly estimate the effort needed to complete items in the product backlog.
Sustainable Pace An concept introduced in XP and memorialized in the agile principles whereby all team members and stakeholders work at a pace they can continue indefinitely.
Task Tasks are an attribute of Product backlog items. Teams will generate tasks to complete the backlog items during Sprint Planning.
Taskboard A visual representation of the work of an agile team. Originally this was a wall chart with cards and/or sticky notes; most teams today use online tools.
Team An agile team is a cross-functional and self-organizing group responsible for end to end delivery.
Team Room Team rooms are used by co-located teams to sit and work in the same place. Distributed teams may use virtual teams rooms.
Technical Debt Technical Debt is the cost associated with maintaining code. It represents the overhead that results from poorly designed code that is risky or costly to maintain.
Three Questions A prescribed check-in for the Daily Scrum, the questions are: 1) what did I do since we last met, 2) what am I going to do next and 3) do I have any impediments?
Timebox An agreed period of time, such as a Sprint or iteration, during which a person or a team works steadily towards the completion of some goal.
Transparency One of the 3 pillars of empiricism; transparency means everything is open and available for inspection. Nothing is hidden.
User Story A simple expression of a business need, that describes the who, what and why of the need and serves as a placeholder for a future conversation.
User Story Mapping A technique popularized by Jeff Patton that uses lightweight methods to map out the interactions that users to go through when using a product.
Value Stream Map A tool from lean that involves charting out the flow of an existing process to identify bottlenecks and delays and to propose improvements.
Value Stream Mapping A process allows you to create a detailed visualization (value stream map) of all the steps in your work process.
Velocity Velocity is a relative throughput measure for a team that reflects the number of items or story points a team completed in a particular period.
Wait time A lean concept, it represents steps in a process that don’t add value since work items are simply waiting for someone to do something.
Waterfall A popular project management approach that emphasizes a linear progression from beginning to end of a project.

You can download your copy here: Downloadable Agile Cheat Sheet of Terms
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