Understanding the seven basic Agile concepts

This blog post describes basic Agile concepts and why they are necessary in the scrum.

What is:

A backlog?

Agile4A backlog is a long to-do list of ranked product requirements. It changes all the time. An item’s priority tells the Agile team what to develop and implement first. The comprehensive list of all to-do-items is called the product or release backlog. Each Agile team creates a backlog for each development cycle. This is known as an iteration or sprint backlog. The to-do items on the backlog are called user stories.

Backlog grooming?

Backlog grooming is the name of the meeting where the team adds new user stories to the backlog. We also use this meeting to do the following:

  • re-prioritise existing stories
  • estimate the workload for stories
  • segment stories into tasks

A scrum?

A scrum in the project management world is a simple, repetitive cycle of managing work.  It is a process that can be applied to nearly any project, but is mostly used in software development. The scrum process is best suited for projects that change rapidly.

A sprint?

A sprint is a pre-defined period of time, usually two weeks. During this time, a team completes specific, previously agreed on work. This cycle is repeated until the end of the project or backlog.

A user story?

A specific user describes a portion of desired functionality in one or two sentences. He/she expresses the reason for the desired functionality from his/her perspective in plain English. Once a user story is planned, it will consist of tasks.


Several user stories, which together form a large piece of functionality, are combined to form an epic. User stories can thus be grouped under epics.

Burn-down and burn-down chart?

Agile5A burn-down chart marks units of work that still have to be accomplished (Y axis) against units of time (X axis). In scrum, the burn down chart is an important object in terms of understanding how the team is doing in the sprint and how much work still needs to be completed.

The initial value of work in the chart is derived from the work to which the team committed during an analysis and design session. During the sprint, the remaining work is generally burned down and graphed daily. The number of points the team takes on is based on their customary team velocity, i.e., the amount of work they routinely complete. In scrum, no new work may be added once a sprint has begun, so the trend line should never rise. But in extreme programming, work may be added during a sprint, so the trend line may rise.