Speaking engineer: How to talk to your dev team

When I first joined ShareFile, I had to dive head first into a world of software and technical language of which I’d only skimmed the surface. That was a challenge, but then came the, “We’re deadlocked in a sprint. Do you have more cycles? We’ll get that fixed, but not live.”

Sprinting? We’re runners now?

Or wait, cycles? We’re biking?

Fixed, but not live? Is that code for killing something? I’m so confused.

In my defense, my only work experience thus far was in the agency world, where I had zero contact with engineers. However, my own brother is a software engineer, so the language gap is just plain sad.

Some of my more technical friends can insert an eye-roll here, but for the rest of us, I’ve put together my glossary of terms and phrases for ‘speaking engineer.’

Our sprint is deadlocked: No, this does not mean that our engineers are having track races out back and they’re locked in a close tie at the finish line. Although, I will be sure to get some photos if that ever happens. It does mean there’s a requirement, such as an approval or a technical problem, blocking progress on engineers’ work.

Do you have cycles?: Why, yes. I bike often. Wait, that isn’t what they mean. Cycles are how engineers break up their time, so when they ask if you have any, they want to know if you have any time to set aside to work on something.

Fixed, but not live: This one is a little more straightforward; it means that a bug has been fixed in testing and test versions of the software, but not yet in the actual version of the product that the customers have.

I’m out of bandwidth: Much like the Internet struggling to stream your movie at home, this just means that the engineers can’t take on anything else. They have all of the tasks they can handle.

I’ll look into that and get back to you: While not confirmed, I suspect this is just code for, “we are never, ever getting back to you.” I’m just kidding! Well…sort of.

My list is still growing, but  already I’ve learned that engineers are the ones who fix the problems, who make the features work and who work endless code into beautiful products — even if they confuse me with their cycle-speak.

What about you? Are there any engineering phrases that threw you off the first time you heard them?