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The Engineer’s Complete Guide To Backlog Grooming


Review the backlog to identify if there are any issues that could break down into smaller tasks or be removed from your backlog altogether. Build the ultimate successful product development organization. The Kanban board is the best tool to achieve visibility and discipline by making the status and progress of the preparation work visible. Yes, the Product Owner is an expert on the product and customer needs. That doesn’t mean they are the best expert on everything. Other team members might have more knowledge and different, valuable viewpoints on the problem.

The scrum master, who guides the process, is there to listen to feedback and offer guidance during the backlog refinement session. Before a story is ready for sprint planning, it needs to be “groomed.” With the product owner, the development team decides the sprint’s goals, duration, and story points. The development team then chooses what should be prioritized in the sprint backlog. The sprint backlog consists of product backlog items that the team agreed with their product owner to include during sprint planning.

He is the author of User Stories Applied for Agile Software Development, Agile Estimating and Planning, and Succeeding with Agile as well as the Better User Stories video course. Mike is a founding member of the Agile Alliance and Scrum Alliance and can be reached at If you want to succeed with agile, you can also have Mike email you a short tip each week. Monday has fully customisable backlog templates to organise, manage, and prioritise items in one central space. Chairing the meeting to ensure that the agenda is on track and that the meeting moves forward instead of getting caught up dissecting a particular backlog item. It’s not just about reporting what the dev team is working on, but an opportunity to get customer feedback .

Are some things higher priority but too large to tackle in your next iteration? See if you can break down that item into smaller pieces so you can get the highest priority piece done first. The more prepared you are for backlog refinement meetings, the shorter they are.

Dependencies in a product backlog refer to any task you can’t get started on until your team has completed another user story. Make sure to identify the dependencies in your backlog before updating it with new tasks. Every member should have a shared understanding of their work. Backlog refinement meetings allow team members to discuss user stories, have a conversation about business challenges, and gain clarity on their responsibilities. Discipline and goal-setting is critical to having successful Refinement sessions that your team will actually begin to look forward to. Savvy product owners rigorously groom their program’s product backlog, making it a reliable and sharable outline of the work items for a project.

Backlog Grooming Activities

Instead, focus on tasks that you can get started on immediately or knock out the tasks you need to get done in order to do others first. Your customers are who you’re building your product for, and they’re who you need to keep in mind during your backlog grooming sessions. This will help you figure out what needs to be prioritized and what can be pushed until later.

Having a backlog refined will support effective communication among the team and keep everyone on the same page in terms of new features, any bugs that have been discovered, user insights, etc. Product backlog refinement is the process by which the The concept of Product Backlog Refinement scrum team keeps its backlog in good order. Near the end of a sprint, the scrum team will meet and look over their backlog to make sure it’s ready for the upcoming sprint. UserVitals helps teams collect, organize and prioritze customer feedback.

Team Development

The development team doesn’t work through the backlog at theproduct owner’space 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 or by iteration . I’d prefer to conduct the meeting without such team members.

  • Look over the product backlog and see which user stories points had value once but are no longer relevant and a team member can delete them from the list.
  • Tips & tricks on how to collect customer feedback like a pro.
  • Now that we’ve discussed what backlog grooming sessions are and what takes place within them, here are our top tricks and tricks for getting the most out of those sessions.
  • During the sprint planning meeting, the product owner describes the highest priority features to the team.
  • Adding and removing user stories or features is probably the most well-known part of backlog grooming.
  • The product owner is free to re-prioritize work in the backlog at any time due to customer feedback, refining estimates, and new requirements.

The purpose of backlog refinement is to have a product backlog ready for the next sprint. This is done by the scrum team having a chance to ask questions of the product owner. Since kanban boards traditionally don’t have backlog functionality, product managers, development managers, and team leads use issues in the first column to plan. This combination of the backlog screen from scrum and the kanban board into one agile board functions like a scrum board backlog. Finally, a core part of sprint backlog grooming meetings is splitting user stories and larger features up.

Why Run A Backlog Refinement Meeting?

That way, you can show stakeholders the outcome of your backlog refinement session and get their final approval. The backlog refinement template allows you to reexamine what’s relevant in your backlog, what’s not, and what new user stories you should include. That way, your team gets a clear view of the tasks they must complete in the sprint. Backlog refinement is where the Product Owner and the team get aligned.

backlog refinement agenda

These discussions should be documented for future use in other backlog grooming sessions. I like to hold the product backlog refinement meetings three days before the end of the current sprint. This gives the product owner sufficient time to act on any issues that are identified. Some teams find that doing shorter meetings every week rather than once per sprint are more suited to their cadence, and that is, of course, fine. This question depends on if you run an agile or scrum methodology.

Then, you decide the amount of effort necessary to implement, as well as the order to do it. Product backlog grooming is not yet an official Scrum meeting. If we make that person attend another meeting, we could risk the delivery of whatever product backlog item the person is working on. A good rule of thumb is that about 5 to 10 percent of the effort in each sprint should be spent on backlog grooming.

Backlog Refinement: A Quick Guide With Examples

If your team needs to cover a lot of work items, they won’t be able to go into much detail. Let’s say your team wants to cover five work items in an hour. Once the backlog grows beyond the team’s long term capacity, it’s okay to close issues the team will never get to. Flag those issues with a specific resolution like “out of scope” in the team’s issue tracker to use for research later.

This leaves you with extra time to check out upcoming work items and even volunteer for them. The backlog is a prioritized list of deliverables that must be completed during the project. A scrum framework allows teams to execute in agile project management, the backlog is very important and backlog refinement keeps work flowing. Unlike other Scrum meetings, I do not think the product backlog refinement meeting requires the participation of the whole team. One of the best ways to make the backlog grooming process more efficient is to make sure your backlog refinement meetings themselves are efficient. Once you’ve finished the backlog refinement meeting with your team, you can share your template with others as an image or PDF.

backlog refinement agenda

By having a shared resource for everyone to access and easily figure out what needs to be done next helps keep everyone on the same page and builds momentum going forward. Import and export tasks in the backlog refinement template. Once you update the backlog, you can send it back to Jira with the refined updates. Your product team needs to agree on a standardized measure to assess the effort involved in each user story. This process drives your team forward and helps them get more out of backlog refinement.

Disciplined preparation will lead to better results and less stress. All team members understand the requirements and the implementation just well enough to provide a reasonable story point estimate for enough small stories to fill up two sprints with work. Figure out what risks or obstacles are inherent in the user stories you’re close to implementing and plan how to avoid those issues. Mike Cohn specializes in helping companies adopt and improve their use of agile processes and techniques to build extremely high-performance teams.

Email notifications are automatically triggered whenever team members make a comment or an item on the backlog is updated. But you also have in-app alerts so you don’t have to leave your tool to stay updated. This keeps you working on your sprint and adjusting it according to the most current data, which boosts productivity. One-click reporting goes deeper into the data and helps the product owner make insightful decisions. Reports on time, tasks and more can all be filtered to show only what you want to see.

This allows a couple of sprints to write stores with clear requirements, and present them to the scrum team at least one sprint ahead of when the work will be started. Every project view feeds automatically into the live dashboard, which doesn’t require any time-consuming setup as you’ll find in other software. The real-time dashboard captures data and automatically calculates the information to display it in easy-to-read graphs and charts. The product owner can view six project metrics whenever they want to monitor the sprint and remove any roadblocks they find. Kanban boards are the preferred tool when managing a backlog, but that can be done on a task list, too.

It Service Management

Once work is in progress, though, keep changes to a minimum as they disrupt the development team and affect focus, flow, and morale. While the product owner is tasked with prioritizing the backlog, it’s not done in a vacuum. Effective product owners seek input and feedback from customers, designers, and the development team to optimize everyone’s workload and the product delivery. You want your product backlog stacked with relevant user stories that are well-documented and prioritized correctly so that they’re of value to your customer and company. Remember, only those items in the backlog will be built but just because it’s on the backlog doesn’t mean it should be executed. One of the biggest reasons for having product backlog refinement is that it keeps your backlog clean.

Typically, the product manager or the product owner would run and lead a backlog grooming meeting agenda and ensure they are executed successfully. ProjectManager is cloud-based work management for hybrid teams that are collaborative to the core and provides a single source of truth that keeps everyone on the product team on the same page. Real-time data helps you make more insightful decisions when in a backlog refinement meeting, which leads to more successful sprints. The product owner is responsible for building the right product. Development team members are responsible for executing the item correctly.

Then they can be saved as a PDF or printed out and shared with stakeholders to keep them updated on progress. Determine the order in which your backlog items should be executed and revisit their priority as you gain further details and insights. Successful product owners will see their stakeholders as a team, not merely a set of individuals. Pro tip 💡 To decide what to put into your issue tracker, use Stepsize VSCode and JetBrains editor extensions.

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