In scrum (a project management methodology often used for software development), there are user stories (or items) which team members split into smaller tasks when they start working on them.

To describe that "splitting into tasks", in Finnish I'd simply say something like "Taskitetaan se." ("Let's split it into tasks." And yes, that's a horrible anglicism.)

What would be a shorter way to say that in English?

I'm tempted to just "verb" the noun, and use something like "Let's task it". How acceptable or understandable would you find that?

  • Won't a simple "Let's split it" work? Or would that be ambiguous? (I.e., can items be split into anything other than tasks?)
    – RegDwigнt
    Nov 19, 2010 at 12:04
  • @RegDwight: Good point! Usually that wouldn't be ambiguous (yeah, you can only split them into tasks). But having the work "task" somewhere in the phrase would be nice, if e.g. filling a short work hour report with something like "US-12: Planning; Splitting". Or hmm, maybe it's just a matter of getting used to. :)
    – Jonik
    Nov 19, 2010 at 12:30
  • 1
    The main problem I see with verbing task is that we already have such a verb, but with a different meaning ("to assign a task to", see e.g. Merriam-Webster, Wiktionary). So "Let's task it" would be understood as "Let's assign a task to it". Similarly, "Planning, Tasking" would not convey the meaning you have in mind. ("Let's taskenize it"? "Taskenizing"? That surely sounds horrible.)
    – RegDwigнt
    Nov 19, 2010 at 12:59
  • Keep in mind that "task" is already a verb--(most commonly seen as a participle: someone is tasked to do something)--and so verbing the noun for another purpose is less than ideal. The other comments/answers have good suggestions for how to handle your situation.
    – res
    Nov 19, 2010 at 15:08
  • @res, @RegDwight, what do you think about "Let's task it out", as suggested by Ted Ballou? (Is having "out" in the phrase sufficient to remove confusion with the other meaning of "task" as a verb?)
    – Jonik
    Nov 21, 2010 at 23:12

3 Answers 3


I work in a scrum environment. When we break down a user story we always say "Let's task it out"

  • Thanks, nice to know that also native speakers might use "task (out)" as a verb with this meaning.
    – Jonik
    Nov 21, 2010 at 22:48

You'd be better off talking about "breaking it down" rather than "splitting it." This carries a stronger sense of deconstructing the problem into its conceptual components. So:

Let's break it down.

(Might sound bad in other contexts, but works fine here!)

  • I guess you're right, this is a more idiomatic way to say it (I've never been in a scrum team with native English speakers, so I don't know what they'd use.) As with RegDwight's comment, it might take me some time to get used to writing e.g. "US-12: Planning; Breaking it down". I'll try and see. :)
    – Jonik
    Nov 19, 2010 at 12:39
  • Looking back over your comments, maybe "task breakdown" would be less ambiguous. Good luck with the scrum - I hope the method works well for your team :)
    – PyroTyger
    Nov 19, 2010 at 13:03
  • @Rhodri: You're right - in context, it's clear to a native speaker what is meant.
    – PyroTyger
    Nov 19, 2010 at 13:19
  • (Forgot to add this earlier...) Thanks; I've actually applied scrum since 2005, and have generally been happy with it. (It ain't a silver bullet, and one should probably combine it with XP practices, but the key ideas of scrum and kanban do make sense, in my experience.)
    – Jonik
    Jan 17, 2011 at 2:12

"Let's divide it."

This would imply that the user story is to be divided up into smaller tasks that should be be allocated to an individual. When a group divides the spoils everyone gets a share, when a group breaks something down it's just a pile of smaller bits without a sense of ownership.

Just my 2p.

  • Hmm, then again, in scrum, the team is collectively responsible for getting the whole user story done, whatever it takes (the team can basically self-organise in any way to that end). So there doesn't have to be one responsible person for each task. (Often there is, but "ownership" of individual tasks is not of central importance in any case.) But this gets quite off-topic here. :-)
    – Jonik
    Nov 21, 2010 at 23:00

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