What is your project making for dinner tonight? Requirements Repository or Backlog...


Recently a learner asked what the difference was between a Requirements Repository and a Requirements Backlog? I thought, before I answer, I should perhaps understand where the words originated from and how it relates to our current understanding of projects.

Backlog (also back-log), was first recorded in the 1680s, as a "large log placed at the back of a fire" to keep the blaze going and concentrate the heat. By 1883 this word and meaning changed to a figurative sense, meaning “something stored up for later use”.

Repository in classical Latin refers to "a stand on which food is placed," and by 1640s is the word was used more in the figurative sense, as a “store”.

According to BABOK® "A backlog occurs when the volume of work items to be completed exceeds the capacity to complete them." While a repository is “a real or virtual facility where all information on a specific topic is stored and is available for retrieval.”

My simple answer to this question was: Think of the repository as storage space (like a garage) that keeps your requirements. Now imagine from this garage of requirements, you are asked to send requirements out to the development team. However you under pressure and the truck is too small to carry them all, so you would look at what are the most important to ship off first. The requirement you leave in the garage is a "backlog" because you are not going to need it right now. 

If we went back to the literal meaning, in today’s projects, we’d be stacking large logs on food stands and leaving them until we ready to eat them. (Yeah I made this up).

So, what’s your project making for dinner tonight?

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