The value of a backlog also lies in its ability to outline the strategic plan of the overall product. When Apple (AAPL) debuted the iPhone X, a 10th-anniversary edition of the iPhone, in October 2017, overwhelming initial demand for the phone created a weeks-long backlog on pre-orders. Apple was forced to delay shipments to late November and then again to December for customers pre-ordering the phone upon launch.

  • A product backlog can be an effective way for a team to communicate what they are working on and what they plan to work on next.
  • A team owns its product backlog and may have a specific role – product owner – with the primary responsibility for maintaining the product backlog.
  • Effective product owners seek input and feedback from customers, designers, and the development team to optimize everyone’s workload and the product delivery.
  • Consequently, product development teams may complete sprint tasks more quickly than expected.

The sprint backlog may need to change through the course of the sprint based on what the team learns as they start working through the sprint backlog. There is no difference between backlog grooming and backlog refinement. Backlog refinement has gained popularity in recent years and is now commonplace among many teams. Although you may still hear “backlog grooming” used, agile backlog refinement seems to be the industry standard. Teams can experiment with different techniques for visualizing, sharing, and seeing the status of items on the sprint backlog. All the work the developers are doing is visible on the sprint backlog.

What are the differences between backlog grooming and sprint planning?

A burndown chart helps decide whether your team’s current workload is too heavy or too light. It can also highlight any discrepancies between time estimates and actual completion time. If a great idea is added to the bottom of a backlog of thousands, who will ever see it? Again, keeping a lean backlog (and limiting the number of sub-backlogs) can prevent this problem from ever rearing its head. Because these groups can sometimes be siloed, the backlog becomes the connective tissue for the whole project and gives everyone an opportunity to view the complete vision.

  • Moreover, they can mitigate any conflicts, dependencies, or advanced work required.
  • Think of the sprint backlog as the team’s plan of action for that particular sprint.
  • Product teams that use the agile development framework divide their work into sprints.
  • These product backlog items are distinct pieces of work that have yet to be delivered for a product.
  • The roadmap’s high-level view does not list specific and detailed items of an individual backlog item.

This helps set expectations with stakeholders and other teams, especially when they bring additional work to you, and makes engineering time a fixed asset. But for PMs to successfully bring products to market, their plans and goals translate into task-level details and where the backlog comes in. Backlog grooming is a collaborative effort that includes the entire project team. However, running a backlog refinement meeting can fall to a product owner, product manager, project manager, and/or Scrum master. A sprint backlog is the subset of product backlog that a team targets to deliver during a sprint in order to accomplish the sprint goal and make progress toward the desired outcome. A scrum team uses a sprint backlog to support focus on the sprint goal.

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Because all the work for a product flows through the backlog, the product backlog provides a base for iteration planning. As your team prioritizes tasks with guidance from the product owner, they’ll also determine how much work they can commit to in a specified block of time. A product backlog is a prioritized list of work for the development team that is derived from the roadmap and its requirements. The most important items are shown at the top of the product backlog so the team knows what to deliver first. The development team doesn’t work through the backlog at the product owner’s pace and the product owner isn’t pushing work to the development team. Instead, the development team pulls work from the product backlog as there is capacity for it, either continually (kanban) or by iteration (scrum).

It’s possible for a product backlog to get too large to be effectively managed. This happens if a team adds every idea that gets suggested for addressing the outcome but never explores the ideas or removes the items that won’t be delivered. Product backlogs can also grow to an unmanageable size if all large product backlog items are split into smaller product backlog items too far in advance of when the team will work on them. When it comes to how much is enough refined work, I advise targeting 1.5 to 2 times the scrum team’s current sprint capacity.

It is recommended to limit backlog grooming sessions to 60 minutes, but this can vary from team to team and company to company. However long the meeting is, it is vital to stick to the agenda so the meeting does not derail. Backlog grooming is an essential activity that benefits any company. A well-maintained backlog provides an opportunity for continuous improvement and iteration. It gives your team a list of priorities when planning their work sprints.

Opportunity scoring is just one of many options for backlog reprioritization. It utilizes user research to understand user expectations and scores items based on that metric. Additionally, backlogs bring the teams together for idea brainstorming (backlog grooming sessions). They also help bridge the time/distance gaps for remote teams and keep them engaged and are often referenced in weekly standups. The standard of success for a sprint should be whether the team accomplishes the sprint goal.

What are the benefits of backlog grooming?

The sprint backlog is a short-term plan to accomplish a series of tasks within a sprint. This article dives into the purpose of sprint backlogs and how to create them effectively using software and tools such as Jira Software. Product owners dictate the priority of work items in the backlog, while the development team dictates the velocity through the backlog. This can be a tenuous relationship for new product owners who want to “push” work to the team.

Experience the new way of doing product management

The product owner may choose to deliver a complete epic first (left). Or, it may be more important to the program to test booking a discounted flight which requires stories from several epics (right). Yes, you want team members to add their ideas in the form of user stories — this is key to collaborative working and innovative thinking. Not only is it easier to assign tasks when everything is clearly itemized, but backlogs are also digital conversation-starters, encouraging cross-team discussion of the entire project roadmap. Product managers naturally take a macro view of the entire development process, and can easily align the how and why of each key milestone — but the same may not be true for development teams.

The product team may consider related backlog items for individual sprints and more significant epics. In short, product backlog refinement is taking a backlog item and ensuring the scrum team can complete it in a sprint, thereby creating a usable increment of value. Let’s acknowledge that and use the language Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland have used in every edition of the Scrum Guide, product backlog refinement.

Who runs and attends a backlog refinement meeting?

Teams find that backlog refinement is most successful when done collaboratively in a recurring  meeting. Backlog refinement needs to happen before each sprint planning meeting which is usually every two weeks. The backlog is managed by the product owner and backlog refinement also happens on the fly as the product owner learns more and integrates feedback from customers and the business. Everyone can see the backlog and see where and how collaboration must happen to complete product backlog items. A product backlog is a prioritized list of work items or features that help you meet product goals and set expectations among teams. In general, each product in development should have a dedicated product backlog.

They can look at the sprint backlog and know precisely the goal and how they can progress toward it. Managing work via the sprint backlog also helps ensure that the work creates value. Both of these living documents serve distinct purposes for agile teams. While the backlog lists tactical details of development, the roadmap focuses on the broader strategy. For a more in-depth comparison, read our overview of the product roadmap vs. product backlog. Let’s take a look at an example of a sprint backlog, which you can easily create during your sprint planning meetings with Jira.

While the entire cross-functional agile team works together on the backlog, the product owner owns it. In most cases, the product owner (or product manager) holds responsibility for organizing and maintaining the product backlog. However, it is general advice to allow various members of the cross-functional team to contribute items to the backlog. In project management, a backlog is the list of tasks that have been prioritized for a given time period. In other words, a backlog is a record of what needs to be done and in which order it should be done.

On the other hand, companies generally want to avoid having a backlog as it could suggest increasing inefficiency in the production process. Likewise, a falling backlog might net working capital ratio definition be a portentous sign of lagging demand but may also signify improving production efficiency. Naturally, unexpected backlogs can compromise forecasts and production schedules.

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