I was very surprised to read, in this question, the mention of “batteries” as a PM tool, seemingly linked to Scrum. The OP talks about an article about their use, but none of my desperate Googling efforts helped.

So, since other people seemed to have no trouble with the term, I hope those same can now explain  :)

What is a battery in the context of PM? Within which methodology is it used / usable?

And, if applicable: what are their pros and cons?

Reference articles would be greatly appreciated too  :)

Just for reference, the relevant part of the cited post:

We were handling [live issues] by batteries inside sprint. But I recently read article against using batteries and many points from it are true. Like:

  • Battery is always used fully sometimes for other things not releated
  • This influence on our velocity
  • I'm curious too, and I'm thinking it's more along the lines of an artillery battery metaphor than an eletrical battery...but who knows!
    – CaffGeek
    Sep 7, 2012 at 12:58
  • Glad you asked the question. In context, I assumed it meant stored (e.g. extra or slack) capacity, but I've never heard it used on the job, either.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Sep 7, 2012 at 14:21
  • I'd never heard of it either. Like CodeGnome, I guessed based on context, and my guess was similar. A piece of time within the sprint set aside for doing something other than what was included in the sprint planning. Sep 7, 2012 at 16:44
  • Well, since everyone is speculating, here is how I understood it: as some story points set aside in advance, and used only in case of an emergency (“live issue”), just like some teams in special environments add an “urgent line” to their Kanban boards.
    – MattiSG
    Sep 7, 2012 at 20:42

1 Answer 1


I thought it is a some kind of a slang, but now I've also spent some time searching, and I think it comes from the tool they are using (the OP mentioned agilo for trac).

According to a discussion on the tool's google group the battery is a feature which can be used to add contingents to a sprint:

A Contingent is an amount of time subtracted from the Team capacity, reserved for specific "unplannable" events (e.g.: Bug Fixing in the Production System, Operational Tasks, Support...). (from: agile42.com

  • Great, thanks! I found some other references to the term “contingent”: one on SO and one in a comment on ScrumAlliance. I guess this is not a really common term, but it seems some people use it. Most probably, as you found, coming from a tool.
    – MattiSG
    Sep 8, 2012 at 15:01
  • 1
    +1 for the research. However, I'll add a little bike-shedding. Personally, I'd argue that if you have somehow estimated an on-going amount of necessary slack for each iteration, then it's not really slack (e.g. it's work that should be estimated and queued), and it's also not unexpected or unplannable work since one is actually planning for it by reserving capacity. I'm all in favor of slack; I'm just not in favor of invisible work. Just my $0.02.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Sep 8, 2012 at 16:28
  • 1
    I absolutely agree with you on the slack time, however I was referring to a slang you know a company or urban related terminology ;-)
    – Zsolt
    Sep 8, 2012 at 17:53
  • Scrum Alliance removed their user submitted articles. An archived version is here Jun 28, 2020 at 4:46

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