04 February 2009

Scrum Project Naming

In the Scrum Practitioners Group on LinkedIn, project manager David Koba asked members:

Do you use code names for your projects?
Well, yes. All of us love laugh-out-loud monikers. I still use the cloaking pseudonym Cleatus Spitznoggle when I peruse high school classmates on Classmates.com.

But for Scrum projects, I prefer meaningful names.

One of 10 critical unity factors in cross-functional teams is TEAM IDENTITY. (see my blog post 10 Critical Factors in Cross-Functional Teams).

A well-oiled Scrum team has:

  • Common purpose;
  • Pride in what the team stands for; and
  • Pride in the incremental accomplishments of delivering a superior product.

Since Scrum teams are often comprised of members who initially identify with their functional organization (e.g., Information Technology, Operations, Quality Control, or Marketing), it's important that the Scrum TEAM IDENTITY evolve over a series of Sprints so that it becomes centered about the product.

I favor project names that promote TEAM IDENTITY centered on the product.

Let the product lead.
I am fortunate to be engaged with a smart group of people building a networking and collaboration product for law professors. We’re the Law School Exchange project.

Our project name is not as memorable as using Star Wars characters like Chewbacca or Biggs Darklighter. And, it is not as intoxicating as a mixed drink project name like The Wet Hen or The Nose Cooler.

On the contrary, our project name suggests a product-focused identity to rally around. It’s a name that doesn’t seem geeky to non-programmers. And, perhaps more importantly, our project name is self-explanatory to the organization footing the bill.

Some folks in the Scrum Practitioners group mentioned the naming of individual Sprints (e.g., after the month they happen to correspond to). Be careful not to lock the team into naming conventions that don’t fit when the team decides that 2-week Sprints are preferable to month-long Sprints.

Take-Away Tips:

  • Give your Scrum Project a self-explanatory, product-focused name that the team can rally around and is easily recognized by the organization.
  • Give your Sprints incremental numbers. Nothing conveys progress to the Stakeholders more succinctly than a trusty old integer.