Agile Terms Glossary

Find a short explanation of the most common terms used in Agile.


Agile Operating Model | The holistic and simple definition of what an organisation, programme, project or team mean when they use the term ‘Agile’. This could be a single Agile framework or an integrated implementation of many frameworks, the latter being much more likely. Agile Operating Models align to the ‘Agile Manifesto’.

Agile Persona | Someone (a person or group) who will interact with the system being built, also known as a ‘user’.


Backlog | An ordered list of requirements/stories that the customer wants

Baseline Plan | The plan that defines the start point from which an evolving product starts, normally high level.

Best Practice | The learned best approach for something at a particular point in time, best practice evolves over time.

Business | The customers stakeholders and users of the product.


Command and Control | A style of management where the manager commands the team to do something and then controls them to do it. This style of management is the opposite of Agile self-organising teams.

Commitment Plan | Typically a detailed forecast for a short period of time, also known as iteration/sprint (or time-box)plans.

Cost of Delay | The cost of delaying an investment decision.

Customer | The person/people who own the product (eg. known as a ‘Product Owners’ or ‘Business Ambassadors’ in certain frameworks).


Definition of Done | Normally a list that defines the complete product that must be delivered; must be standard across the Team.

Definition of Ready | Normally a list that defines when artefacts within the delivery process are ready e.g. story ready to go into iteration/sprint.


Environment | The combination of all factors within an organisation, project, team etc that drives suitability of a delivery or governance framework. In a dynamic environment, where things change all the time, an Agile framework would be suitable.


Facilitated Workshops | Groups of people coming together in a forum to achieve a stated objective, the achievement of which is facilitated by a workshop facilitator. Many activities (such as planning) within Agile are delivered within Facilitated Workshops.

Feature | A feature of the system that the customer wants, normally described as a story and ordered within a backlog.


Iteration/Sprint | A short focussed amount of delivery effort to deliver stories within an Iteration/ Sprint goal, normally between 2 to 4 weeks.

Iteration/Sprint goal | The goal that the Team commit to in relation to an Iteration/Sprint Plan.

Iteration / Sprint plan | The forecast of what will be delivered within a short focussed ‘sprint’ by the Team.

K, N

Knowledge Based Work | Work where the main capital is knowledge, such as Doctors, Engineers and Information Technology workers.

Noise | Anything that interrupts the team within an iteration/sprint, noise causes significant disturbance within a Team and causes lack of focus on delivery and ultimately failed delivery.


Regression Testing | Software testing that seeks to uncover new problems, or regressions, in an existing system after changes have been made to them.

Requirements | Are described as ‘stories’ within most Agile frameworks.


Source Control System | Part of software Configuration Management, manages the central repository of code versions etc.

Stakeholder | Any person or group who can help the Team, or screw them up.

Story | A requirement or feature that may be delivered at some point; a story is a token to remind everyone that something may need to be delivered. stories reside on the backlog.


Time-box | A fixed period of time within which delivery is made, stories are prioritised within a time-box. With Agile; projects, releases and Iterations/Sprints are all time-boxes.

U, W

User | People who will use the product, known as ‘Agile Personas’ within Agile. 

Working Software | Software that works, has all the elements associated with the ‘Definition of Done’ and is ready to deploy into an environment which should be the live production environment.