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Some key (yet funny) terminologies in AGILE Scrum

by Swaraj Gupta

Agile has been the buzz word of the industry since 4-5 years now. It has turned around many businesses. It has not just drastically changed the cost side of the profitability tree but also improved upon the revenue side by shipping better products. Agile practitioners are no longer willing to even talk about the traditional models and are happy with the lean and continuous improvement approach which AGILE prescribes. But these two are not the only words that practitioners love, some others that they are fond of are –

  • Pig: It is a term used to demonstrate the commitment level of team members into the project. It is primarily a term used in SCRUM projects. While making food of eggs and ham, a pig has to sacrifice himself so as to make available the ham which is used in the food. Hence his commitment level into the food making is the highest.

  • Chicken: Chicken however has to provide the eggs which though is a sacrifice is not to the level of that of the pig and hence a chicken’s commitment level is not as high as that of the pig into an AGILE project. Thus as it is mentioned in many agile sites – ‘A pig is really committed in the project however a chicken is only involved, yet both are need to make the recipe.

  • Planning Poker: It’s a group based method of effort estimation. It forms a very critical component of every AGILE project or rather every AGILE sprint. Mostly the exercise happens in sprint planning meetings and as a part of this exercise, team members are handed over with cards which they place on the desk to determine the complexity of the task. The card is placed front-facing down so that the earlier member’s estimations don’t impact the ones made by the later members. Once every member’s estimation are determined, the cards are made open to each member and then members whose cards don’t reflect the majority discuss why they feel that the task is more (or less) complex and based upon this discussion a consensus is achieved and task is assigned a complexity level and number of hours to complete.

     


  • Fibonacci Sequence: The cards used in the planning poker exercise have numbers from Fibonacci sequence on them and as the number increases the complexity of task increases for the exercise. The reason why Fibonacci numbers are used is that as the complexity and uncertainty in a task increases it becomes more and more difficult to predict and thus only the larger number can justify its complexity.

  • Daily Standup: Members of AGILE team commit themselves to over communication and keeping every member informed about the task they have undertaken. As a part of this commitment and a part of AGILE teams they go over a short meeting and share their current status, next steps as planned by them and any blocker that they might be facing. Product owners (along with other members of the team) help the team members to overcome the blockers. The term ‘stand up’ is used to imply that the meeting is done in a standing mode and one cannot stand for a long hence the meeting has to be ended in a short time.

     

  • ‘Owner’ yet ‘servant’ -> Product Owner: Product owner plays the role of facilitator in AGILE projects. He is responsible for the delivery of the product in expected time and budget and acts as a point of contact between the team and the business. He chairs the daily standup and sprint planning meeting and ensures of team’s frictionless functioning. Though he is termed as product ‘owner’ it is his responsibility to help his team members come out of blockers and issues (that are obstructing their work) and help them get back to track. Thus ‘owner’ here in a way plays the role of ‘servant’.

     

  • Roman Vote: A roman vote or thumb vote is a mechanism to understanding the sense of the team members on a decision or agreement.
    • Thumbs up signifies ‘yes’ / ‘agree and
    • Thumbs down signifies ‘no’ / ‘disagree’

  • Backlog Grooming: Is a meeting in which the items in the backlog are discussed, refined, prioritized and reorganized.

  • Information Radiator: A big white board / project display / any large display mechanism that basically highlights the team’s critical details, priorities and progress (their current standing) in the project. It should be built in such a way that it can be easily updated and is clear and concise enough for the team members to understand.

     

  • Burn-down: It basically denotes the work down and the work pending for a project team. It is a chart that displays the amount of work pending against time (at the x-axis) and the outstanding work is at the y-axis.

This post is also available in: French


About Swaraj Gupta

Swaraj is a performance, automation and functional test expert who has worked on variety of desktop and mobile applications. The major areas that he focuses on are - functionality, usability, performance and consistency of application behavior. He manages the entire performance testing cycle of the projects that he is responsible for and works on multiple such engagements simultaneously. He has worked in variety of different business domains that include - Hi tech consulting, Financial services, management consulting, auditing services, e commerce, e learning, etcT

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