Agile Terminology


Earned Value and Agile Series

By Howard Zillman



Feature/Epic/User Story – based on the information from the internet and in discussions with some of the AGILE users I know, there terms are interchangeably and represent a requirement (scope) that needs to be accomplished. They are things that can be estimated, tested, tracked and measured. These terms are the equivalent to Work Packages or Planning Packages. A User Story may also be a subset of a Feature or EPIC. The User Story is scope that can be delivered inside one Sprint. User Stories together may form larger systems (Features, EPICs)

Story – A Story seems to be synonymous to a User Story in AGILE. Stories are sometimes utilized as inch stones or Quantifiable Backup Data (QBD) for EVM tracking.

Story Points – AGILE describes Story Points as the scale of effort required to implement a User Story. I equate it to the budget (BCWS) associated with the effort defined by the Feature/Epic/User Story. Story Points relate to scale or complexity of a User Story – it can be used to allocate budget to a User Story (but might be team dependent). Story Points can also be the basis for BCWP % Complete.

Iteration/Sprint – In AGILE terms, these are defined as a Period of Performance (PoP). That typically spans approximately 1-4 weeks.

Spiral – In AGILE terms, this are defined as a Period of Performance (PoP). We define that time span as approximately 3 months. This would imply that an Iteration/Sprint is a subset of the Spiral. Sometimes referred to as a Release. A Release or Spiral represents a body of scope with a ‘formal’ delivery at the end. Due to the possible confusion with Spiral Development, it may make more sense to use the term Release instead of Spiral.


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Editor’s note: The College of Performance Management (CPM) published a Compendium of articles on Earned Value and Agile based program management in The Measureable News in late 2014. The articles are now being republished in the PM World Journal, as agreed with CPM and the authors. This introduction by Ray Stratton launches the series. For information about CPM, visit their website at https://www.mycpm.org/

About the Author

pmwj34-May2015-Zillman-PHOTOHoward Zillman

Northrop Grumman Electronics Systems




Howard Zillman
is the Western Region Manager for Earned Value Management and Program Assessment for Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems Sector. Howard has 30 years of experience in both earned value management and program financial control management. Howard is responsible for developing and providing EVM training, program guidance and all aspects of support related to program EVM implementation and Government EVM audits. Howard is recognized as an EVM subject matter expert for NGES. Howard holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in both Accounting and Finance from California State University Northridge, USA.