Glossary of Terms

A      B      C      D      E      F      G      H      I      J      K      L      M      N      O      P      Q      R      S      T      U      V      W      X      Y      Z


A

80:20 Rule
See Pareto Principle.

Agile
A style of working where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organising, cross-functional teams. It promotes adaptive planning, iterative development and incremental delivery. A timeboxed, iterative approach encourages rapid and flexible systemic response to change.

Agile Coach
A person responsible for guiding individuals and teams in their adoption of agile ways of working; they serve as mentors who facilitate agile thinking and practices.

AgilePfM (Agile Portfolio Management)
AgilePfM is a bespoke approach to agile portfolio management created by the Agile Business Consortium.

AgilePgM (Agile Programme Management)
AgilePgM is a bespoke approach to agile programme management created by the Agile Business Consortium.

AgilePM (Agile Project Management)
AgilePM is an agile project management approach based on the DSDM Agile Project Framework. AgilePM adds depth and detail to DSDM that is relevant to project management and de-emphasises some other elements related to solution development.

AgilePM for Scrum
AgilePM for Scrum is an evolution and customization of AgilePM that is designed to provide a wider agile project perspective for one or multiple Scrum teams working to achieve a specific business (as opposed to product) goal.

Agile Procurement
An agile way of procuring products and services for an organisation.

Agile Release Train (ART)
A long-lived team of Agile teams that incrementally develops, delivers, and often operates one or more solutions in a value stream. A feature of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe). 

Agilist
A person knowledgeable in agile methods, frameworks, theories and practices who is able to apply such knowledge to shape novel, pragmatic and practical applications of agility.

Alpha
The term Alpha may be used to describe an early form of a prototype of a product or service as it evolves to meet its intended purpose (an Alpha – see also Minimum Viable Product) – or to describe an early phase in the evolutionary development of such a product or service (the Alpha phase). In this context of four phases, in order, are Discovery, Alpha, Beta and Live.

Ambiguity
In the context of VUCA, describes something that can be understood in more than one way. 

Analytics
The process of analysing data in order to identify meaningful trends. Used in an agile context shape decisions around team purpose and performance.

Antipattern
An agile antipattern describes a way of working that contradicts the philosophy of agility.

Artefact
An object with special importance to an agile process, method or framework. It may be an input to or an output of such a process or it may be created as part of the process to help in its execution.


B

Backlog
A list of things waiting to be done. There are different types of backlogs for example Scrum features a product backlog and sprint backlog as two of its artefacts.

Backlog Grooming
A redundant term from earlier versions of Scrum. Now called Backlog Refinement.

Backlog Refinement
From Scrum: Also (redundantly) known as backlog grooming, this is the ongoing process of reviewing updating and ordering product backlog items to ensure that they are ready ‘just in time’ for development.

Benefit
The measurable improvement resulting from an outcome perceived as an advantage by one or more stakeholders, which contributes towards one or more organisational objectives.

Beta
The term Beta may be used to describe a prototype of a product or service that is ready for exposure to its target audience (a Beta) – or to describe a phase in the evolutionary development of such a product or service (the Beta phase). In this context of four phases, in order, are Discovery, Alpha, Beta and Live.

Big Room Planning
A collaborative and time-boxed planning event where teams (in agile, typically a team of teams) come together to create a coherent high-level plan based on a common understanding of, and working towards, a common goal.

Blocked
When work cannot proceed because something, a 'blocker' is preventing it from doing so.

Blocker
Something that is preventing an individual or a team from making progress towards an agreed goal.

Burn-Down Chart
A publicly displayed chart illustrating the estimated effort needed to achieve a predefined goal. In an agile team context, an extrapolation from periodic data points is used to predict how much work will remain ‘not done’ by the end of a timebox or Sprint.

Burn-Up Chart
A publicly displayed chart used to illustrate progress towards an agreed goal, typically in terms of tangible value delivered so far, in the context of the total value planned for delivery.

Business Agility
A people-centred, organisation-wide capability that enables a business to deliver value to a world characterised by ever-increasing volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. It is achieved by inspiring and harnessing the collaborative, creative ways of working of the people of the organisation in meeting its core purpose.

Business Ambassador
A person who, on a day-to-day basis, and in detail, represents the needs and expectations of the end-users and/or business stakeholders in the evolution of a business solution.

Business Analyst
A role for an individual who helps a development team and the wider organisation to understand what is needed of, and help shape a business solution that will add value to its stakeholders.

Business Case
An artefact that provides a vision and a justification for a project from a business perspective, determining whether the value of the solution to be delivered by the project warrants the cost to produce, support and maintain it into the future, all within an acceptable level of risk.


C

Capability
An ability or capacity for an individual or an organisation to deliver value to its customers or other stakeholders. A capability generally consists of four major components: business processes, people, physical assets and information.

Ceremony
A redundant term taken from early versions of the Scrum Guide – see Event.

Collaboration
The act of two or more individuals working together to achieve a common goal.

Community of Practice (CoP)
A group of individuals who share a common competence and interact regularly to improve their individual and collective performance.

Complexity
In the context of VUCA, describes a whole that it is made up of many interrelated parts.

Cross Functional
An essential characteristic of an agile team within which team members may have different individual functional competencies but collectively have everything they need to achieve their goal. See also multidisciplinary.

Culture
The set of shared attitudes, values, beliefs and behaviours that characterise a population of individuals (such as a business, a team or a professional group) and reflect it’s collective personality. An agile culture values flexibility, collaboration, customer-centricity and continuous improvement and is influenced by a range of factors (such as its people, size and geographic spread).

Cumulative Flow Chart
A publicly displayed chart that illustrates the state of progress of multiple work items through various stages of development. In Kanban it is used as a visual metric to analyse the stability of the workflow.

Customer Centricity
A mindset in which meeting the customers' needs is the primary focus of all the activities and decisions associated with communicating, creating, marketing, selling, supporting and maintaining the products, solutions and services for them.

Cycle Time
In Kanban this measures the time it takes for an item on the Kanban board to move from the start to the end of the flow described by the layout of the board.


D

Daily Stand-Up
A short team meeting, often lasting 15 minutes or less each day that provides team members with the opportunity to inspect their progress towards their collective goal and to plan how best to continue. It is called a stand-up from the original intent that participants should stand rather than sit in their shared workplace to encourage them to keep the meeting as short as possible. The Daily Scrum event in Scrum is an example of a daily Stand-Up meeting.

Definition of Done (DoD)
What it means for a job to be complete. It usually involves a list of criteria that must be met before an item can be considered finished. In Scrum the DoD is the commitment for the product Increment being developed and is defined as “a formal description of the state of the Increment when it meets the quality measures required for the product.”

Definition of Ready
A checklist of what needs to be in place before work can start on something such as having clear goals or checking there are no blockers.

Developer
An individual who is involved in the development of a product. Development may refer to initial creation and ongoing refinement of the product. Note: Some people abbreviate the role of ‘software developer’ to ‘developer’ causing some confusion around this term.

DevOps
A combination of practices and tools that combines software Development (Dev) and IT Operations (Ops) in an integrated approach to software engineering that delivers value more quickly and maintains that value more effectively than the treating Dev and Ops as independent disciplines.

Discovery
Discovery is about understanding and defining the problem to be solved, or the opportunity to be progressed, before work on the solution itself starts. It is the first of four phases in the UK Government Digital Services (GDS) lifecycle: Discovery, Alpha, Beta and Live.

DSDM
The Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM) defines an agile approach that integrates software development and project management. Later versions of DSDM offer applicability beyond software and can be applied to the development of any product in the wider context of an agile project. AgilePM builds on DSDM to provide depth and detail around agile project management.


E

Empathy Map
A collaborative visualisation of what a customer is likely to ‘think’, ‘feel’, ‘do’ or ‘say’ in a defined context such as being presented with a specific problem, opportunity, product or service. 

Empowerment
Refers to the delegation of authority and responsibility from those leading or managing an endeavour to those most closely involved in the work, involving them in the decision-making process, not in mere job activities. 

Epic
An Epic describes a large body of work that will be broken down into smaller more manageable units of work described by features and user stories. 

Estimate
A forecast of what it will cost and/or how long it will take to deliver a specified outcome or, conversely, what outcome can be delivered for a given cost and/or within a given timeframe. 

Event
Formal, structured meetings that take place as part of several agile approaches including Scrum. The Scrum events are Sprint Planning, the Daily Scrum, the Sprint Review and the Sprint Retrospective, all encompassed by the Sprint – which is also described as an event. 

Extreme Programming (XP)
Extreme Programming – typically referred to as XP – is a lightweight methodology for small to medium sized teams developing software in the face of vague or rapidly changing requirements. XP takes common-sense principles and practices for software to ‘extreme’ levels.


F

Facilitated Workshop
A structured meeting that encourages collaborative working and enables high quality team-based decisions to be made in a shortened timeframe.

Feasibility Phase
The DSDM phase which gives the first opportunity for deciding whether or not the project is viable from a technical and/or business perspective.

Feature
In a product context a Feature is a distinct element of form or function that has specific value to a customer or user. It is sometimes used to describe a subset of an epic. In this context, the feature still needs to be broken down into smaller, more manageable user stories.

Feedback Loop
Part of the control mechanism for an agile process that allows the learning from inspecting the efficiency or output of that process to improve its next execution. This can include customer reviews, stakeholder feedback or internal retrospectives.

Fibonacci Sequence
The Fibonacci Sequence is a series of numbers in which each number is the sum of the two preceding ones. It is the basis for the relative estimating of work using the Planning Poker technique. (The adjusted Fibonacci sequence used for planning poker is 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 20, 40, 100 and µ [i.e. bigger than 100]).

Fit for Purpose
Something that is good enough to do the job it was intended to do.

Flow
The smooth, uninterrupted passage of work through a development process that results in continuous delivery of value.

Foundations Phase
The DSDM phase to establish firm and enduring foundations for a project from the three leadership perspectives of business vision, solution architecture and project management.


G

Gantt Chart
A type of bar chart that illustrates a project schedule including activities and tasks and their interdependancies, milestones and resources and provides a mechanism for visualising progress towards completion of those work items. Originally evolved by Henry Gantt between 1910 and 1915.


I

Increment
One of a series of additions to a Project (see Project Increment), Product (see Product Increment) or Solution (see Solution Increment), with each increment being added to, and including, the content of the previous increments.

Incremental Delivery
A form of development that involves delivering a product one piece at a time with each increment delivered being integrated with the work of all previous increments. Ideally ‘delivery’ means ‘into live use’ so that the product can start generating business value, but this is not always possible.

Iteration
One of, or relating to, a repetitive series of short, structured cycles of development.

Iterative Development
The process of developing a product through repeated short, structured development cycles (iterations). Each iteration features a built-in review and feedback opportunity that allows the product to evolve to achieve a specific goal.


K

Kaizen
A systematic approach to business improvement from the Japanese word meaning "change for better" or "continuous improvement".

Kanban
From the Japanese, meaning “signboard”, kanban is an approach for visualising and controlling the flow of work through a defined process. Flow is optimised by limiting work in progress (WiP) for each step in the process and encouraging collective effort (known as swarming) to resolve blockages caused by WiP limits.


L

Lean
A collection of principles, supported by practices and tools, aimed at optimising the delivery of customer value by eliminating ‘waste’ (time, effort and resources that do not add customer value) from the process.

Lifecycle
A segmented process through which a product (feature) will progress. Examples: From a sales perspective a product lifecycle may have the stages of introduction, growth, maturity, decline and retirement. From a product development perspective, the same product may have a lifecycle with stages of market research, engineering, manufacturing, support and maintenance and recycling.


M

Minimum Marketable Feature (MMF)
The smallest combination of form and function in which a customer will perceive value.

Minimum Marketable Product (MMP)
The smallest set of features in a product that makes it useful and desirable to a customer group while providing a positive Return on Investment (ROI) for the creating business.

Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
A version of a new product, or feature, which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the minimum of effort.

Model
A visual, graphical representation of something ideally created using a standard notation in which elements such as the shape of that element or the style of an arrow that connects it to another element have specific meaning.

MoSCoW Prioritisation
A prioritisation technique mainly used on requirements although also useful in other applications. M stands for ‘Must Have’, S stands for ‘Should Have’, C stands for ‘Could Have’ and W stands for ‘Won’t Have This Time’.

Multidisciplinary
An essential characteristic of an agile team where team members may have different individual functional competencies, but collectively have everything they need to achieve their goal. See also cross functional.


O

Obeya
A business practice that emerged from the lean manufacturing ‘Toyota Production System’ in the 1990s. Obeya describes an information sharing and decision-making forum that involves the consideration of mindset, alignment, workspace and content. Eleven principles spanning these perspectives further define how operate an Obeya.

Objectives & Key Results (OKRs)
A framework for defining and tracking objectives and their outcomes.


P

Pareto Principle
A rule of thumb stating that 80% of consequences stem from 20% of causes. Also known as the 80:20 rule; it advocates pragmatism on a project by focusing on the 20% that matters most.

Portfolio
The set of capabilities that an organisation has, or is creating, to deliver value to customers.

Programme
A temporary, flexible structure created to deliver outcomes and benefits related to the organisation’s strategic objectives by driving, monitoring and coordinating a set of related projects and activities.

Planning Poker
A group consensus-based technique for estimating using sets of numbered cards. It is typically used as a non-time-based mechanism to estimate the relative effort required to get a job done.

Prioritised Requirements List (PRL)
From DSDM (AgilePM). A document holding a list of requirements for the proposed solution which have been prioritised using the MoSCoW technique.

Product
A vehicle to deliver value. Most commonly this is a tangible commodity, but the term is also used more generally to include a service or something more abstract that delivers value.

Product Backlog
An accumulation of uncompleted work and other matters associated with a specific product that contributes to the solution – typically expressed as an ordered list and specifically including Product Goals.

Product Backlog Refinement
See Backlog Refinement.

Product Goal
An objective or a desired result to be achieved by the product.

Product Increment
A concrete stepping stone toward the product goal that can be, and ideally is, deployed to achieve that goal.

Product Lifecycle
The stages that a product goes through including introduction, growth, maturity and decline.

Product Marketing
The process of promoting and selling products to customers; including, market research, advertising and distribution strategies.

Product Owner
From Scrum: One person, not a committee who has primary responsibility for representing the needs of stakeholders in the content and ordering of the Product Backlog. Also accountable for maximising the value of the product or service resulting from the work of their Scrum team(s).

Product Pipeline
The products or features that are in various stages of development, testing or release. The pipeline begins with an idea and ends with a product, or a feature of a product, in live use.

Product Portfolio
A collection of all the products or services offered by a company.

Programme Increment (PI) Planning
A form of Big Room Planning or an Obeya specific to incremental delivery of programmes. 

Project
An undertaking requiring concerted, typically team-based effort. 

Project Manager
A role responsible for ensuring that a project runs smoothly. In an agile environment the project manager is responsible for managing the interface between the project team and the environment in which they operate. This includes ensuring that all necessary resources are available as needed, including people but, specifically, is not responsible for detailed planning or allocation of work. This is the responsibility of self-organising teams.


R

Rapid Application Development (RAD)
A software development approach that empahses ‘doing’ the work, in terms of rapid prototyping of software, over up-front designing and planning. To be successful it requires a highly competent software developers, short customer/user feedback loops and thorough testing.

Requirement
Something that is needed or wanted as part of a business solution to a problem or opportunity, typically expressed as a User Story in an agile context.

Retrospective
A Facilitated Workshop to look back on a recent event and to assess what went well and what could be improved.

Return on Investment (ROI)
A ratio derived by dividing the value output from an investment opportunity by the value input to it. A ratio less than 1 represents a loss or a negative return (the smaller the figure, the worse the loss). A value greater than 1 represents a profit or a positive return (the larger the figure the better the profit).


S

SAFe
See Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe).

Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)
A framework that combines process, tools and guidance, inspired primarily by Agile, Lean and DevOps thinking, to help an enterprise turn digital strategy into meaningful execution and impact in a market-responsive way.

Scope
What is included as part of an endeavour, or a solution (in scope) as opposed to things that are not (out of scope).

Scope Creep
The gradual, incremental expansion of scope. Note: The expansion of work needed to achieve a defined objective is not considered to be scope creep. In this context, scope creep would relate to the changing of the objective itself.

Scrum
The most commonly used Agile approach world-wide for software product development. The Scrum Guide (2020) defines Scrum as “a lightweight framework that helps people, teams and organisations generate value through adaptive solutions for complex problems”.

Scrum Board
An interactive, typically Kanban representation of Scrum’s Sprint Backlog illustrating the Sprint Goal and the set of product backlog items within the scope of the Sprint used by the Scrum Team to visualise their progress and planned activity towards achieving their Sprint Goal.

Scrum Guide
A guide authored by the creators of Scrum, Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber, that defines the philosophy and practical foundations of Scrum including the Scrum values, accountabilities for members of the Scrum Team, the Scrum Events and the Scrum Artefacts.

Scrum Master
Someone who is accountable for establishing Scrum as defined in the Scrum Guide and for the effectiveness of the Scrum Team. To make this a reality the Scrum Master provides advice and guidance to the Scrum Team and the wider organisation in which it operates in order to optimise the value delivered by the Scrum approach.

Scrum Product Owner
See Product Owner.

Scrum Team
The Scrum Team consists of one Scrum Master, one Product Owner, and Developers. Within a Scrum Team, there are no sub-teams or hierarchies. It is a cohesive unit of cross functional professionals focused on one objective at a time, the Product Goal. 

Scrumban
A hybrid agile framework that combines elements of Scrum and Kanban.

Self-organising
A system or group’s ability to order themselves without external direction or centralised control. In teams, members decide collectively how they will tackle and solve problems rather than being directed by someone outside of the team.

Service
A vehicle to deliver value that does not produce a tangible commodity. Sometimes considered a subdivision of a product.

Solution
A set of products, systems, services, people and other resources that collectively solve a business problem or meet a business opportunity.

Spike
See Minimum Viable Product.

Sprint
The Sprint is the heartbeat of Scrum where ideas are turned into value. It is a fixed-length event of one month or less that includes all the activities needed to achieve a Sprint Goal including the events of Sprint Planning, the Daily Scrum, the Sprint Review and the Sprint Retrospective.

Sprint Backlog
The Sprint Backlog is a plan by and for the Developers in a Scrum Team. It is a highly visible, real-time picture of the work that the Developers plan to accomplish during the Sprint in order to achieve the Sprint Goal. Consequently, the Sprint Backlog is updated throughout the Sprint as more is learned.

Sprint Goal
In Scrum, the Sprint Goal is the single objective for the Sprint. It is created during Sprint Planning to provide coherence and focus for the Scrum Team, encouraging them to work collaboratively rather than on separate initiatives.

Sprint Planning
Sprint Planning is the event in Scrum that initiates the Sprint by laying out the work to be performed to achieve the Sprint Goal. The resulting plan, that is created by the collaborative work of the entire Scrum Team, is combined with the Sprint Goal to form the Sprint Backlog.

Sprint Retrospective
The purpose of the Sprint Retrospective is to plan ways to increase quality and effectiveness. The Scrum Team inspects how the last Sprint went with regards to individuals, interactions, processes, tools, and their Definition of Done and plan a limited number of improvements to try in the next Sprint.

Sprint Review
The purpose of the Sprint Review event in Scrum is to inspect the outcome of the Sprint and determine future adaptations. The Scrum Team presents the results of their work to stakeholders with any feedback on the product being used to shape the Product Backlog moving forwards.

Stakeholder
Anybody involved in a project, impacted by it or the solution it delivers, or with the potential to have influence over the project or its outcome. 

Standup
See Daily Standup.

Story Points
A relative unit of size, used for estimating, planning and tracking in an agile project.

Success Criteria
Specific measures that must be met for the project to be considered successful.

Swarming
The act of having multiple team members focus on the same work item to ensure completion as quickly as possible.


T

Task
A unit of work that needs to be completed individually or in collaboration with others.

Throughput
In the context of Kanban, the number of work items completed in a given time period.

Timebox
A fixed period of time within which a team organises itself to deliver value. Timeboxes may be nested, for example a Project may have a timebox of 12 weeks duration organised into 6 2-week Sprints which are themselves timeboxes.

Tranche
A set of projects and related activities that are required to deliver one or more of the capabilities defined within a programme.

T-Shirt Sizing
An estimating technique for sizing project components using categories, e.g. XL, L, M, S, XS etc. This technique is useful to avoid definitive time estimates being given too early.


U

Uncertainty
In the context of VUCA, describes a lack of clarity or precision related to a future state.

Unified Modelling Language (UML)
Pertaining to development of IT systems, UML is a language used to help specify, visualize, and document models of software systems, including all aspects of their structure, behaviour and interactions.

User Story
A requirement expressed from a user point of view and with associated acceptance criteria. The usual format is: As a <role> I want <this feature> so that <I can achieve this objective/derive this value>.


V

Value
The benefits that stakeholders derive from the product, feature or functionality being built.

Value Stream
The series of value-adding steps an organisation takes to deliver a product or service to a customer.

Value Stream Mapping
A fundamental lean practice for visualising and analysing the flow of materials and information required to bring a product or service to a customer.

Velocity
A simple measure of the rate at which a team delivers business value; it is used for forward planning to predict how much work a team can successfully complete within a development timebox such as a Scrum Sprint.

Volatility
In the context of VUCA, describes a tendency to change quickly and unpredictably.

VUCA
Describes an environment characterised by Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity.


W

Work in Progress (WiP)
The work items that have been started but are not yet completed; limiting WiP improves workflow.

 

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