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PMP 2021 Agile Definitions 

 October 8, 2020

By  Dave Litten

The new 2021 PMP Exam Syllabus is just weeks away, and the new PMP Accreditation exam contains a massive 50% of project management agile-related questions.

So you will need to get up to speed with the PMP2021 Syllabus agile definitions – pronto!

Keep an eye out for our forthcoming brand new Projex Academy PMP Exam Preparation Masterclass for 2021 and onwards …

PMP 2021 Agile Definitions

Until its launch in a few weeks, here are the key agile definitions you need to get to grips with:

PMP 2021 Agile Definitions Agile

Acceptance Test-Driven Development (ATDD). A method of collaboratively creating acceptance test criteria that are used to create acceptance tests before delivery begins.

Agile. A term used to describe a mindset of values and principles as set forth in the Agile Manifesto.

Agile Coach. An individual with knowledge and experience in agile who can train, mentor, and guide organizations and teams through their transformation.

Agile Life Cycle. An approach that is both iterative and incremental to refine work items and deliver frequently.

Agile Manifesto. The original and official definition of agile values and principles.

Agile Mindset. A way of thinking and behaving underpinned by the four values and twelve principles of the Agile Manifesto.

Agile Practitioner. A person embracing the agile mindset who collaborates with like-minded colleagues in cross-functional teams. Also referred to as agilist.

Agile Principles. The twelve principles of agile project delivery as embodied in the Agile Manifesto.

Agile Unified Process. A simplistic and understandable approach to developing business application software using agile techniques and concepts. It is a simplified version of the Rational Unified Process (RUP).

Agilist. See Agile Practitioner.

Anti-Pattern. A known, flawed pattern of work that is not advisable.

Automated Code Quality Analysis. The scripted testing of codebase for bugs and vulnerabilities.

Backlog. See Product Backlog.

Backlog Refinement. The progressive elaboration of project requirements and/or the ongoing activity in which the team collaboratively reviews, updates, and writes requirements to satisfy the need of the customer request.

Behavior-Driven Development (BDD). A system design and validation practice that uses test- first principles and English-like scripts.

Blended Agile. Two or more agile frameworks, methods, elements, or practices used together such as Scrum practiced in combination with XP and Kanban Method.

Blocker. See Impediment.

Broken Comb. Refers to a person with various depths of specialization in multiple skills required by the team. Also known as Paint Drip. See also T-shaped and I-shaped.

Burndown Chart. A graphical representation of the work remaining versus the time left in a timebox,

Burnup Chart. A graphical representation of the work completed toward the release of a product.

Business Requirement Documents (BRD). Listing of all requirements for a specific project.

Cadence. A rhythm of execution. See also Timebox.

Collective Code Ownership. A project acceleration and collaboration technique whereby any team member is authorized to modify any project work product or deliverable, thus emphasizing team-wide ownership and accountability.

Continuous Delivery. The practice of delivering feature increments immediately to customers, often through the use of small batches of work and automation technology.

Continuous Integration. A practice in which each team member’s work products are frequently integrated and validated with one another.

Cross-Functional Team. A team that includes practitioners with all the skills necessary to deliver valuable product increments.

Crystal Family of Methodologies. A collection of lightweight agile software development methods focused on adaptability to a particular circumstance.

Daily Scrum. A brief, daily collaboration meeting in which the team reviews progress from the previous day, declares intentions for the current day, and highlights any obstacles encountered or anticipated. Also known as daily standup.

Definition of Done (DoD). A team’s checklist of all the criteria required to be met so that a deliverable can be considered ready for customer use.

Definition of Ready (DoR). A team’s checklist for a user-centric requirement that has all the information the team needs to be able to begin working on it.

DevOps. A collection of practices for creating a smooth flow of delivery by improving collaboration between development and operations staff.

Disciplined Agile (DA). A process decision framework that enables simplified process decisions around incremental and iterative solution delivery.

Double Loop Learning. A process that challenges underlying values and assumptions in order to better elaborate root causes and devise improved countermeasures rather than focusing only on symptoms.

Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM). An agile project delivery framework.

Evolutionary Value Delivery (EVO). Openly credited as the first agile method that contains a specific component no other methods have: the focus on delivering multiple measurable value requirements to stakeholders.

eXtreme Programming. An agile software development method that leads to higher quality software, a greater responsiveness to changing customer requirements, and more frequent releases in shorter cycles.

Feature-Driven Development. A lightweight agile software development method driven from the perspective of features valued by clients

Fit for Purpose. A product that is suitable for its intended purpose.

Fit for Use. A product that is usable in its current form to achieve its intended purpose.

Flow Master. The coach for a team and service request manager working in a continuous flow or Kanban context. Equivalent to Scrum Master.

Framework. A basic system or structure of ideas or facts that support an approach.

Functional Requirement. A specific behavior that a product or service should perform.

Functional Specification. A specific function that a system or application is required to perform. Typically represented in a functional specifications document.

Hoshin Kanri. A strategy or policy deployment method.

Hybrid Approach. A combination of two or more agile and non-agile elements, having a non- agile end result.

IDEAL. An organizational improvement model that is named for the five phases it describes: initiating, diagnosing, establishing, acting, and learning.

Impact Mapping. A strategic planning technique that acts as a roadmap to the organization while building new products.

Impediment. An obstacle that prevents the team from achieving its objectives. Also known as a blocker.

Increment. A functional, tested, and accepted deliverable that is a subset of the overall project outcome.

Incremental Life Cycle. An approach that provides finished deliverables that the customer may be able to use immediately.

Information Radiator. A visible, physical display that provides information to the rest of the organization enabling up-to-the-minute knowledge sharing without having to disturb the team.

I-shaped. Refers to a person with a single deep area of specialization and no interest or skill in the rest of the skills required by the team. See also T-Shaped and Broken Comb.

Iteration. A timeboxed cycle of development on a product or deliverable in which all of the work that is needed to deliver value is performed.

Iterative Life Cycle. An approach that allows feedback for unfinished work to improve and modify that work.

Kaizen Events. Events aimed at improvement of the system.

Kanban Board. A visualization tool that enables improvements to the flow of work by making bottlenecks and work quantities visible.

Kanban Method. An agile method inspired by the original Kanban inventory control system and used specifically for knowledge work.

Large Scale Scrum (LeSS). Large-Scale Scrum is a product development framework that extends Scrum with scaling guidelines while preserving the original purposes of Scrum.

Lean Software Development (LSD). Lean software development is an adaptation of lean manufacturing principles and practices to the software development domain and is based on a set of principles and practices for achieving quality, speed, and customer alignment.

Life Cycle. The process through which a product is imagined, created, and put into use.

Mobbing. A technique in which multiple team members focus simultaneously and coordinate their contributions on a particular work item.

Organizational Bias. The preferences of an organization on a set of scales characterized by the following core values: exploration versus execution, speed versus stability, quantity versus quality, and flexibility versus predictability.

Organizational Change Management. A comprehensive, cyclic, and structured approach for transitioning individuals, groups, and organizations from the current state to a future state with intended business benefits.

Paint-Drip. See Broken Comb.

Pairing. See Pair Work.

Pair Programming. Pair work that is focused on programming.

Pair Work. A technique of pairing two team members to work simultaneously on the same work item.

Personas. An archetype user representing a set of similar end users described with their goals, motivations, and representative personal characteristics.

Pivot. A planned course correction designed to test a new hypothesis about the product or strategy.

Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA). An iterative management method used in organizations to facilitate the control and continual improvement of processes and products.

Plan-Driven Approach. See Predictive Approach.

Predictive Approach. An approach to work management that utilizes a work plan and management of that work plan throughout the life cycle of a project.

Predictive Life Cycle. A more traditional approach, with the bulk of planning occurring up- front, then executing in a single pass; a sequential process.

Project Management Office (PMO). A management structure that standardizes the project- related governance processes and facilitates the sharing of resources, methodologies, tools, and techniques.

Product Backlog. An ordered list of user-centric requirements that a team maintains for a product.

Product Owner. A person responsible for maximizing the value of the product and who is ultimately responsible and accountable for the end product that is built. See also Service Request Manager.

Progressive Elaboration. The iterative process of increasing the level of detail in a proje management plan as greater amounts of information and more accurate estimates become available.

Refactoring. A product quality technique whereby the design of a product is improved by enhancing its maintainability and other desired attributes without altering its expected behavior.

Retrospective. A regularly occurring workshop in which participants explore their work and results in order to improve both process and product.

Rolling Wave Planning. An iterative planning technique in which the work to be accomplished in the near term is planned in detail, while the work in the future is planned at a higher level.

Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®). A knowledge base of integrated patterns for enterprise- scale lean–agile development.

Scrum. An agile framework for developing and sustaining complex products, with specific roles, events, and artifacts.

Scrumban. A management framework that emerges when teams employ Scrum as the chosen way of working and use the Kanban Method as a lens through which to view, understand, and continuously improve how they work.

Scrum Board. An information radiator that is utilized to manage the product and sprint backlogs and show the flow of work and its bottlenecks.

Scrum Master. The coach of the development team and process owner in the Scrum framework. Removes obstacles, facilitates productive events and defends the team from disruptions. See also Flow Master.

Scrum of Scrums. A technique to operate Scrum at scale for multiple teams working on the same product, coordinating discussions of progress on their interdependencies, and focusing on how to integrate the delivery of software, especially in areas of overlap.

Scrum Team. Describes the combination of development team, scrum master, and process owner used in Scrum.

Self-Organizing Team. A cross-functional team in which people fluidly assume leadership as needed to achieve the team’s objectives.

Servant Leadership. The practice of leading through service to the team, by focusing on understanding and addressing the needs and development of team members to enable the highest possible team performance.

Service Request Manager. The person responsible for ordering service requests to maximize value in a continuous flow or Kanban environment. Equivalent to product owner.

Siloed Organization. An organization structured in such a way that it only manages to contribute a subset of the aspects required for delivering value to customers. For contrast, see Value Stream.

Single Loop Learning. The practice of attempting to solve problems by just using specific predefined methods, without challenging the methods in light of experience.

Smoke Testing. The practice of using a lightweight set of tests to ensure that the most important functions of the system under development work as intended

Specification by Example (SBE). A collaborative approach to defining requirements and business-oriented functional tests for software products based on capturing and illustrating requirements using realistic examples instead of abstract statements.

Spike. A short time interval within a project, usually of fixed length, during which a team conducts research or prototypes an aspect of a solution to prove its viability.

Sprint. Describes a timeboxed iteration in Scrum.

Sprint Backlog. A list of work items identified by the Scrum team to be completed during the Scrum sprint.

Sprint Planning. A collaborative event in Scrum in which the Scrum team plans the work for the current sprint.

Story Point. A unit-less measure used in relative user story estimation techniques.

Swarming. A technique in which multiple team members focus collectively on resolving a specific impediment.

Technical Debt. The deferred cost of work not done at an earlier point in the product life cycle.

Test-Driven Development. A technique where tests are defined before work is begun, so that work in progress is validated continuously, enabling work with a zero defect mindset.

Timebox. A fixed period of time, for example, 1 week, 1 fortnight, 3 weeks, or 1 month. See also Iteration.

T-shaped. Refers to a person with one deep area of specialization and broad ability in the rest of the skills required by the team. See also I-Shaped and Broken Comb.

User Story. A brief description of deliverable value for a specific user. It is a promise for a conversation to clarify details.

User Story Mapping. A visual practice for organizing work into a useful model to help understand the sets of high-value features to be created over time, identify omissions in the backlog, and effectively plan releases that deliver value to users.

UX Design. The process of enhancing the user experience by focusing on improving the usability and accessibility to be found in the interaction between the user and the product.

Value Stream. An organizational construct that focuses on the flow of value to customers through the delivery of specific products or services.

Value Stream Mapping. A lean enterprise technique used to document, analyze, and improve the flow of information or materials required to produce a product or service for a customer.

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Dave Litten


David spent 25 years as a senior project manager for USA multinationals, and has deep experience in project management. He now develops a wide range of Project Management Masterclasses, under the Projex Academy brand name. In addition, David runs project management training seminars across the world, and is a prolific writer on the many topics of project management.

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