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Topics: Communications Management
Backlog synonymous
Thr project sponsor does not like the term backlog given that he connects this term to negativity (things that are delayed, for example).

Have you ever encountered sponsors with aversion to certain terms? Can you propose a word to replace backlog? (in the sense of project / product backlog). Thanks in advance!
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Happens all the time. They don't like the perceived connotation of an industry standard word, or they just want to put their own spin on it. It's like renaming organizations or job titles. It's unfortunate as as when you decide to brand everything in your own terms, it creates confusion and makes it more difficult to collaborate with external stakeholders.

A synonym might be "planned work queue" which is less convenient than accepting the existing term isn't necessarily negative.
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1 reply by Eduard Hernandez
Sep 24, 2020 3:52 AM
Eduard Hernandez
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How right you are, Keith. Thank you very much for your input.
One of my past employers had banned the word "agile" for a couple of years because of the bad taste their first transformation had left in the mouths of their stakeholders...

Job jar
Honey-do list :-)
Input queue
Requirements wishlist

Kiron
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1 reply by Eduard Hernandez
Sep 24, 2020 3:54 AM
Eduard Hernandez
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Thanks for the list, Kiron. I shall skip the honey-do list if I want to keep my job ;-) I will let you know what we decide to go with.
Sep 23, 2020 11:56 AM
Replying to Keith Novak
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Happens all the time. They don't like the perceived connotation of an industry standard word, or they just want to put their own spin on it. It's like renaming organizations or job titles. It's unfortunate as as when you decide to brand everything in your own terms, it creates confusion and makes it more difficult to collaborate with external stakeholders.

A synonym might be "planned work queue" which is less convenient than accepting the existing term isn't necessarily negative.
How right you are, Keith. Thank you very much for your input.
Sep 23, 2020 12:08 PM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
...
One of my past employers had banned the word "agile" for a couple of years because of the bad taste their first transformation had left in the mouths of their stakeholders...

Job jar
Honey-do list :-)
Input queue
Requirements wishlist

Kiron
Thanks for the list, Kiron. I shall skip the honey-do list if I want to keep my job ;-) I will let you know what we decide to go with.
Dreams to become reality.
My problem with "backlog" in a project context is the impact on other tasks and the project in general. Project delivery is a complex network of interdependent tasks - a task completion date is missed and the network weakens, possibly to the point of collapse.

When someone advises me that a task is "backlogged" I immediately see a threat to the timeline, I see effort to bring the task back on line, I see disruption and planning adjustments. When I'm advised that there are a number of "backlogs" I conclude that the project is in crises. I want to see what is being done to compensate, what adjustments have been made to the delivery plan.

To me "backlog" is not a project terms. If the delayed task need not be undertaken or has no impact on the project then one must question its validity. The response is "delete this task" rather than "we'll do it when we have time". You will never have time until/unless the backlogged task becomes critical in which case it should have been re-planned.
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1 reply by Keith Novak
Sep 24, 2020 11:36 AM
Keith Novak
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There is a good example of how people can attach a negative connotation to the term, but in many project frameworks, it's a natural and desirable way to plan work. Here are some examples I see every day in large scale, mostly predictive project plans:

- When developing a new product, for many systems elements first we establish basic functionality or solve The Big Problem to establish feasibility before adding additional features or aesthetics.

- In a test program, not everything can be tested at once, so first we would focus on safety or mission critical items, while non-critical items will be deferred for later testing.

- For products that have multiple customers each with their own custom configurations, we first develop the first article, and then have a backlog of customer unique configurations that are time phased based on the delivery dates. In this case, a large backlog of customers is a very desirable thing but we work to decrease the flow-time of each new customer delivery.

Phasing programs/projects like that prevents large spikes of effort which helps to maintain a stable work force. It also reduces rework because if you polish a product too much before you find out whether or not significant design changes are required, lots of that work may be wasted.
Sep 24, 2020 9:31 AM
Replying to Peter Rapin
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My problem with "backlog" in a project context is the impact on other tasks and the project in general. Project delivery is a complex network of interdependent tasks - a task completion date is missed and the network weakens, possibly to the point of collapse.

When someone advises me that a task is "backlogged" I immediately see a threat to the timeline, I see effort to bring the task back on line, I see disruption and planning adjustments. When I'm advised that there are a number of "backlogs" I conclude that the project is in crises. I want to see what is being done to compensate, what adjustments have been made to the delivery plan.

To me "backlog" is not a project terms. If the delayed task need not be undertaken or has no impact on the project then one must question its validity. The response is "delete this task" rather than "we'll do it when we have time". You will never have time until/unless the backlogged task becomes critical in which case it should have been re-planned.
There is a good example of how people can attach a negative connotation to the term, but in many project frameworks, it's a natural and desirable way to plan work. Here are some examples I see every day in large scale, mostly predictive project plans:

- When developing a new product, for many systems elements first we establish basic functionality or solve The Big Problem to establish feasibility before adding additional features or aesthetics.

- In a test program, not everything can be tested at once, so first we would focus on safety or mission critical items, while non-critical items will be deferred for later testing.

- For products that have multiple customers each with their own custom configurations, we first develop the first article, and then have a backlog of customer unique configurations that are time phased based on the delivery dates. In this case, a large backlog of customers is a very desirable thing but we work to decrease the flow-time of each new customer delivery.

Phasing programs/projects like that prevents large spikes of effort which helps to maintain a stable work force. It also reduces rework because if you polish a product too much before you find out whether or not significant design changes are required, lots of that work may be wasted.
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1 reply by Peter Rapin
Sep 24, 2020 1:11 PM
Peter Rapin
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Am I to understand that any activity that has yet to start is labelled "backlog". Thus when you start a project everything is a backlog. A synonym would be "pending task" or "future task"

From a project perspective I see backlog as a task that should have been and could have been started/completed but has not. For whatever reason the task has been put aside for later consideration. However, if it does not require current attention it is not backlogged it is just a scheduled future activity.

If a team lead tells me that a certain activity is backlogged or is on a backlog list it suggests that it was to be started but has been delayed. Thus I want to know the impact and the recovery plan.

I understand that from an operational perspective "backlog" can mean pending assignments, work on hand but not started, tomorrows revenue, future commitment.
Sep 24, 2020 11:36 AM
Replying to Keith Novak
...
There is a good example of how people can attach a negative connotation to the term, but in many project frameworks, it's a natural and desirable way to plan work. Here are some examples I see every day in large scale, mostly predictive project plans:

- When developing a new product, for many systems elements first we establish basic functionality or solve The Big Problem to establish feasibility before adding additional features or aesthetics.

- In a test program, not everything can be tested at once, so first we would focus on safety or mission critical items, while non-critical items will be deferred for later testing.

- For products that have multiple customers each with their own custom configurations, we first develop the first article, and then have a backlog of customer unique configurations that are time phased based on the delivery dates. In this case, a large backlog of customers is a very desirable thing but we work to decrease the flow-time of each new customer delivery.

Phasing programs/projects like that prevents large spikes of effort which helps to maintain a stable work force. It also reduces rework because if you polish a product too much before you find out whether or not significant design changes are required, lots of that work may be wasted.
Am I to understand that any activity that has yet to start is labelled "backlog". Thus when you start a project everything is a backlog. A synonym would be "pending task" or "future task"

From a project perspective I see backlog as a task that should have been and could have been started/completed but has not. For whatever reason the task has been put aside for later consideration. However, if it does not require current attention it is not backlogged it is just a scheduled future activity.

If a team lead tells me that a certain activity is backlogged or is on a backlog list it suggests that it was to be started but has been delayed. Thus I want to know the impact and the recovery plan.

I understand that from an operational perspective "backlog" can mean pending assignments, work on hand but not started, tomorrows revenue, future commitment.
...
1 reply by Keith Novak
Sep 24, 2020 1:36 PM
Keith Novak
...
The common definition is a prioritized list of planned work, rather than things that are late to start. Do a search of "scrum backlog definition" and you'll see what I mean.

It's not just any work that hasn't started but more compartmentalized. For example if I have started to work on some feature, the future sequence of tasks to complete that feature aren't part of the backlog per se as the sequence of events may be considered "in work". Other features that are planned to be worked later and their respective chains of events are part of the backlog.

This is an example of where people using the same word for different meanings can result in confusion.
Sep 24, 2020 1:11 PM
Replying to Peter Rapin
...
Am I to understand that any activity that has yet to start is labelled "backlog". Thus when you start a project everything is a backlog. A synonym would be "pending task" or "future task"

From a project perspective I see backlog as a task that should have been and could have been started/completed but has not. For whatever reason the task has been put aside for later consideration. However, if it does not require current attention it is not backlogged it is just a scheduled future activity.

If a team lead tells me that a certain activity is backlogged or is on a backlog list it suggests that it was to be started but has been delayed. Thus I want to know the impact and the recovery plan.

I understand that from an operational perspective "backlog" can mean pending assignments, work on hand but not started, tomorrows revenue, future commitment.
The common definition is a prioritized list of planned work, rather than things that are late to start. Do a search of "scrum backlog definition" and you'll see what I mean.

It's not just any work that hasn't started but more compartmentalized. For example if I have started to work on some feature, the future sequence of tasks to complete that feature aren't part of the backlog per se as the sequence of events may be considered "in work". Other features that are planned to be worked later and their respective chains of events are part of the backlog.

This is an example of where people using the same word for different meanings can result in confusion.
Backlog means the work you intend to do rather than haven't done and is supposed to be a good thing rather than negative. It's interesting that some people have different impressions of that word.

Chambers Dictionary says a backlog is "a reserve or accumulation of business, stock, work, etc that will keep one going for some time" and also that the origin of the word is "the log at the back of the fire". If so then it seems it was always supposed to be something in reserve awaiting attention rather than something incomplete or delayed.

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