Career / Management

12 Terms for New Agile Developers

by Team Nuggets
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Published on December 22, 2017

As eccentric as Agile's vocabulary is, a solid understanding of terminology is essential to success in an Agile environment. We made a handy guide to help you find your way to a Niko-Niko calendar full of smiley faces.


It's called Agile, not as the result of some Silicon Valley marketing consultant if that were the case it would be called "Agyle®". Not only is the method called Agile, it's also agile, which means the development process is flexible. It bends to the needs of the client and developer by offering frequent code changes for small teams that move quickly.

Burn Down Chart

A burn down chart sounds like the product of a highly organized arsonist, but it's a visual representation of the work remaining. Where most downward slopes are bad, a negative slope here is positive. As the project continues, the line should steadily approach zero.


Since Agile is flexible, a backlog is created to keep track of change requests and new feature requests as the developer's code. A growing backlog shows up in the burndown chart as an uptick, and slows your downward progress.

User Story

User satisfaction is the ultimate end-goal, so a user story explains features in future software from the user perspective so developers can make the software more intuitive.


Sprints are a set amount of time with a given workload and range from two days to weeks. Agile project managers ensure developers complete each task within the sprint time frame.


Velocity is the sum of accepted features in a sprint. A velocity chart indicates the speed at which the team can produce features and deploy changes. It's a useful tool for product planning and deciding if more team members are needed.


All these tools are part of a development framework called Scrum, a rugby term for when the team pushes forward with arms interlocked and heads down. Agile is the methodology and Scrum is the framework developers follow to get work done.


Impediments are anything holding back the development process paperwork, meetings, other employees, or even problems getting code to work.

Planning Poker

Agile makes a game of planning workload and judging effort for each task. Each developer is given cards with numbers. For each task, the developers ask the product owner questions, and then they reveal a card to indicate the amount of effort needed to complete the task. Everyone talks until they agree upon a number and consensus has been achieved. 

Scrum Master/ Meeting

The Scrum Master is not a D&D role. They lead the Scrum, a daily 15-minute stand-up meeting where team members explain what they did yesterday, what they will do that day, and any impediments.

Acceptance Test

You know that movie you show every prospective partner to see if you're truly compatible? This is like that, but for software. It's the fundamental criteria. Basically, does the product do what it was designed to do?

Backlog Grooming

Not a term of art for manscapers. Without editing, backlogs can grow out of control. A project manager or team leads review the backlog and occasionally breaks down current stories into smaller, more manageable ones to keep the sprint moving.


In case you're a more visual learner (or you want your terms laid out on a Scrum board), check out our graphic version of this post and download it for your use here.

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