Scrum definitions explained

Scrum has a lot of terms used to describe specific parts or roles that are used from day to day.  This sometimes confused people and daunts them when they hear a term that they don’t understand.  Some are easy to relate to, but some are pretty obscure.  So if you don’t know your Pigs from your Chickens… Read on 🙂

Average Velocity

     The number of points completed in each of the Team’s Sprints divided by the number of Sprints completed.

Burndown Graph.

The trend of work remaining across time in a sprint, a release, or a product.  The source of the raw data is the Sprint backlog and the Product Backlog, with work remaining tackled on the vertical axis and the time periods (days of a sprint or sprints) tracked on the horizontal axis.


     Someone who is interested in the product but does not have formal Scrum responsibilities and accountabilitys (is not a Team Member, Product Owner, Scrum Master or other stakeholders).  Chickens can attend Scrum Meetings, but they must not speak as they are not part of the team.

Daily Scrum Meeting

     A short alignment meeting held daily by each team during which the team members synchronize their work and progress and report any impediments to the Scrum Master for removal.  Dependencies on other scrum teams can also be reported here in order for the Scrum Master to try and deal with before they become an impediment.

Estimated work remaining

      The number of hours that a Team member estimates remain to be worked on any task.  This estimate is updated at the end of every day the sprint backlog task has been worked on.  The estimate is the total estimated hours remaining, regardless of the number of people that perform the work.


     Product functionality that is developed by the team during each sprint.

Increment of potentially shippable product functionality

     A completely developed increment that contains all of the parts of a completed product, except for the Product backlog items that the team selected for the sprint.


     One cycle within a project.  In scrum, this cycle is 30 sequential calendar days or a Sprint.  Companies can tailor this to their needs.  We currently use a 14 day Sprint.


     Someone occupying one of the three scrum roles (Team member, Scrum Master or Product Owner) who has made a commitment and has the authority to fulfill it.  Just like a real life pig, who likes to get dirty, think of the members of your team who like to get their hands dirty completing the work.  Compare this with people not in your team who wont be getting their hands dirty, they are known as chickens.

Product Backlog

     A prioritized list of project requirements with estimated times to turn them into completed product functionality.  Estimates are in days and are more precise the higher an item is in the Product backlog priority.  The list evolves, changing ad business conditions or technology changes.

Product Backlog items.

     Functional requirements, nonfunctional requirements and issues, which are prioritized in order of importance to the business and dependencies and then estimated.  The precision of the estimate depends on the priority and granularity of the Product backlog item with the highest priority items that can be selected in the next sprint being very granular and precise.

Product Owner

     The person who is responsible for managing the product backlog so as to maximize the value of the project.  The Product owner represents all stakeholders in the project.


     Not an acronym, but mechanisms in the game of rugby for getting an out-of-play ball back into play.

Scrum Master

     The person who is responsible for the scrum process, its correct implementation and the maximization of its benefits.  All round genius 🙂


     A time-box of 30 sequential calendar days during which a Team works to turn the Product Backlog it has selected into an increment of potentially shippable product functionality.  This means that a team must aim to have potentially releasable software by the end of their sprint.

Sprint Backlog

     A list of tasks that defines a Team’s work for a sprint.  The list emerges during the sprint.  Each task identifies the story being worked on, those responsible for doing the work and the estimated time remaining on that task on any given day during the sprint.

Sprint Backlog task

One of the tasks that the team or a Team member defines as required to turn committed Product Backlog items into system functionality.

Sprint planning meeting

A one-day meeting time-boxed to 8 hours that initiates every Sprint.  The meeting is divided into two 4-hour segments, each also time-boxed.  During the first segment, the Product owner presents the highest priority Product Backlog to the team.  The Team and the Product owner collaborate to help the team determine how much Product Backlog it can turn into functionality during the up and coming Sprint.  The team commits to this Product Backlog at the end of the first segment.  During the second segment of the meeting, the Team plans how it will meet this commitment by detailing its work as a plan in the Sprint Backlog.

Sprint Retrospective Meeting

A meeting time-boxed to 3 hours and facilitated by the Scrum Master at which the Team discusses the just-concluded Sprint and determines what could be changed that might make the next Sprint more enjoyable or productive.

Sprint Review Meeting

     A meeting time-boxed to 4 hours hours at the end of every Sprint at which the Team demonstrates to the Product Owner and any other interested parties what it was able to accomplish during the Sprint.  Only completed work will be demonstrated.


     Someone with an interest in the outcome of a project, either because he or she has funded it, will use it, or will be affected by it.


     A cross functional group of people that is responsible for managing itself to develop software every Sprint.


      A period of time that cannot be exceeded and within which an event or meeting occurs.  For example a Daily Scrum meeting is time boxed to 15 minutes and terminates at the end of those 15 minutes regardless.

Taken from “Agile project Management with Scrum” by Ken Schwaber with some personal touches by myself 🙂


Published by The Daily Scrum

A CSP, CSM, CSPO who lives and works in Glasgow, UK.

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