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Agile project management glossary

Iterative or agile terminology can be confusing. We have compiled a list of the most common agile terminology you may come across, and their definitions:

  • Agile – a project management approach based on delivering requirements iteratively and incrementally throughout the life cycle.
  • Agile development – an umbrella term specifically for iterative software development methodologies. Popular methods include Scrum, Lean, DSDM and eXtreme Programming (XP).
  • Agile Manifesto – describes the four principles of agile development: 1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools. 2. Working software over comprehensive documentation. 3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation. 4. Responding to change over following a plan.
  • Backlog – prioritised work still to be completed (see Requirements).
  • Burn down chart – used to monitor progress; shows work still to complete (the Backlog) versus total time.
  • Cadence – the number of days or weeks in a Sprint or release; the length of the team’s development cycle. 
  • Ceremonies – meetings, often a daily planning meeting, that identify what has been done, what is to be done and the barriers to success.
  • DAD (disciplined agile delivery) – a process-decision framework.
  • Daily Scrum – stand-up team meeting. A plan, do, review daily session.
  • DevOps (development/operations) – bridges the gap between agile teams and operational delivery to production.
  • DSDM (dynamic systems development method) – agile development methodology, now changed to the ‘DSDM project management framework’.
  • Kanban – a method for managing work, with an emphasis on just-in-time delivery.
  • Kanban board – a work and workflow visualisation tool which summarises the status, progress, and issues related to the work.
  • Lean – a method of working focused on ‘eliminating waste’ by avoiding anything that does not produce value for the customer.
  • LeSS (large-scale Scrum) – agile development method.
  • RAD (rapid application development) – agile development method; enables developers to build solutions quickly by talking directly to end users to meet business requirement.
  • Requirements – are written as ‘stories’ that are collated into a prioritised list called the ‘Backlog’.
  • SAFe (scaled agile framework enterprise) – agile methodology used for software development.
  • Scaled agile – agile scaled up to large projects or programmes, for example by having multiple sub-projects, creating tranches of projects, etc.
  • Scrum – agile methodology commonly used in software development, where regular team meetings review progress of a single development phase (or Sprint).  
  • Scrum of scrums – a technique to operate Scrum at scale, for multiple teams working on the same product.
  • Scrum master – the person who oversees the development process and who makes sure everyone adheres to an agreed way of working.
  • Sprints – a short development phase within a larger project defined by available time (‘timeboxes’) and resources.
  • Sprint retrospective – a review of a Sprint providing lessons learned with the aim of promoting continuous improvement.
  • Stories – see Requirements.
  • Timeboxes – see Sprints.
  • Velocity – a measure of work completed during a single development phase or Sprint.
  • Waterfall – a sequential project management approach that seeks to capture detailed requirements upfront; the opposite to agile.
  • XP (eXtreme Programming) – agile development methodology used in software development; allows programmers to decide the scope of deliveries.