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What is Essence?

Essence is a Language that Unites all Your Practices

Essence is a language for defining methods and practices common to all software engineering. Essence was created by Software Engineering Method and Theory (SEMAT) and approved by The Object Management Group as a standard in 2014.

Essence intuitively describes all common aspects of a software development endeavour and helps teams understand where they are, what’s missing or what needs to be addressed - regardless of each team’s prescribed way of working. Essence is method-agnostic and helps create a common language between disparate practices so everyone is talking the same language.

Essence helps you think about the ‘universals’:

  • Alphas are the essential things you always work with
  • Competencies are essential capabilities required
  • Activity Spaces are essential things to do.
  • Understand where you are
  • Understand what needs to be addressed
  • Track progress and health
  • Keep projects in balance and avoid catastrophic failures
  • Form good sprint goals and other objectives
  • Form teams
  • Define practice independent checkpoints, milestones and lifecycles


Watch this quick introduction to Essence and learn how Essence can immediately deliver value to your organization.

What next? Sign-up for Practice Library and see Essence in action.

Essence is Freely Available

Nothing in the Essence standard is company specific and it can be applied to any software development endeavor. IJI’s Alpha State Cards are an easy way to get started learning and applying Essence.

Once you’ve mastered the use of the cards, you can begin to investigate Essence as a way to create new practices and unite all your existing practices!

View IJI’s Essential Practice Packs to learn more about Essence Powered Practices.