Scrum Agile Development: Bad Language?

In the Scrum agile development methodology, the list of work to be done (including bugs, enhancements, new features, whatever) is called the ‘Product Backlog’. An iteration in Scrum is called a ‘Sprint’ and the work to be done in the Sprint is called the ‘Sprint Backlog’.

Makes sense to me.

But there are some who are uncomfortable with the name ‘Backlog’ because it seems too negative. It seems as though the team is behind before it even starts!

In reality, of course, *it is*.

Because in software development, there will always be more work than you can possibly ever deliver, because with software there is no limit to what you could potentially do.

Therefore I think the term ‘Backlog’ makes complete sense. It helps your team, and more importantly it helps your Product Owners, to acknowledge the fact that you have limited resources, unlimited possibilities.

And then there’s the benefit of a common language. Some argue that the terms don’t really matter. Personally, I beg to differ.

Have you ever tried communicating when you’re on holiday and don’t speak the language? It’s awkward, uncomfortable and tends to be error prone.

You might well argue that it’s not as extreme as this… that’s true. Not if you change just one term. But change too much and you do run a risk. You run the risk of losing the very clear benefits of a common language.

Scrum (and agile development generally) is an approach that relies heavily on close collaboration, teamwork and verbal communication. Therefore, I would personally recommend that you don’t change the language unless there is a really compelling reason to do so.