We can sidestep the risk of our backlog becoming a stumbling block rather than a stepping stone. Sometimes, product managers or owners may be handed a pre-prepared http://fawara.ru/dopatxtas474.htm product backlog that is probably supposed to make their work easier. The lists are typically too long and excessively or needlessly detailed.

    We’ll cover all of these attributes in detail, including how you can ensure your product backlog is in good health. But first, let’s get on the same page about product backlogs and the refinement process. An acronym coined by Roman Pichler and Mike Cohn for remembering a set of criteria used to evaluate the quality of a product backlog. The criteria are Detailed appropriately, Emergent, Estimated, and Prioritized.

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    • The closer an item is to being completed, the more detail it should have.
    • Backlog items represent what it will take to develop a new product or improve an existing one with new features.
    • A product backlog stores, organizes, and manages all work items that you plan to work on in the future.
    • All participants of the process are responsible for the decisions and results.
    • The product backlog resembles a disguised requirements specifications, which is a common trap to fall into.

    In these cases, use a simple agile estimation technique, such as t-shirt sizing to make a guesstimate. Based on the information you have at that moment in time, make an approximate estimate on the exertion required for that backlog item. On the other hand, items that are lower on the priority list don’t require nearly as much detail.

    Tasks should be prioritized to reflect the order in which they should be completed and which offers the most customer or user value. Stories are discussed to uncover ambiguities, then clarity is provided so stories are ready for sprint-planning sessions. Tasks are estimated based on the amount of effort it will take the team to complete them, then assigned points to reflect that effort. Large user stories are split into smaller ones that can be addressed on a per-sprint basis and then reorganize points to reflect each work chunk’s complexity and effort. User stories are often updated to provide clarity and new details. Items that may be added or removed include features, bugs and technical work.

    Focusing on the Right Stories

    The product backlog should be sorted with the most valuable items at the top and the least valuable at the bottom. By always working in priority order, the team is able to maximize the value of the product or system being developed. To ensure that the product backlog is DEEP and stays that way, you have to regularly update and refine it. Refining the product backlog is an ongoing, collaborative process that involves the product owner and team, as I describe in more detail in the post Refining the Product Backlog. Note that the Scrum framework does not suggest any prioritisation factors.

    This timing for backlog grooming guarantees that the backlog items are prioritized, discussed, estimated, and ready to be discussed during sprint planning. Without a backlog grooming session, the team cannot conduct a sprint planning session and therefore cannot begin the sprint. Backlog grooming is a process in which the product owner and product managers review, discuss, and prioritize the list of user stories in the backlog with the entire team. A backlog is a prioritized list of tasks for the team to work on.

    The team must estimate the time and resources require to complete all the items in the backlog. Rough estimates provided initially can be revised later during sprint planning; this is often necessary when developers come across some additional information that could impact the sprint. The backlog needs to be regularly updated and realigned to keep up with changes in the product roadmap.

    Because a product backlog evolves, it’s easy to add new stories and items—or remove them—as new information arises. Items in the backlog should contain enough contextual information for your cross-functional team to understand and discuss. Higher-priority user stories will have greater detail and context and be clearly defined. Typically, a product manager will do this prioritization by themselves, because it requires meticulous review and can be kind of tedious. If the backlog isn’t too long , this is a great place to start. First Principles is the idea of breaking down something complex into its simplest, smallest parts, like taking a cell and breaking it down into molecules.

    In a backlog refinement session, you might remove or de-prioritize unimportant, non-urgent items, then refine items that are important and non-urgent, or are important and urgent. These are the items for consideration during your next Sprint Planning meeting. If you find you have a particularly large queue of urgent items, you might need a different process to manage those – like even over statements.

    Some teams decide to assign time limits to each user story to keep things moving. This is where the project manager, scrum master, or another facilitator can be incredibly helpful. Even then, it might seem like you’re squeezing a lot of work into a short block of time, but if you’re properly prepared you can easily have effective sessions. While executive stakeholders may want to participate , they usually don’t need to be present during grooming meetings. As the product owner or product manager, your conversations with stakeholders should happen in advance of backlog refinement sessions, not during.

    During a backlog grooming session, the team may discover steps or tasks that need to be done prior to starting work on a user story. Backlog grooming is a recurring event where a team comes together to ensure the next few sprints are prepared for sprint planning. As a backlog item gets closer to being completed or moved into a sprint backlog, it requires more detail. Upcoming backlog items should be detailed appropriately, so they can be better understood by the development team.

    Creating a DEEP Product Backlog

    The general consensus around the ideal length for a backlog grooming session is between 45 minutes to 1 hour. Before your backlog grooming meeting, prepare well to set the stage for a productive and efficient meeting. In addition, limit your backlog grooming meetings by focusing on more than one sprint in each meeting as time allows. Then, during your meeting, practice and model active listening, use a DEEP format, prioritize the preferences and needs of the customer, manage your time well and note dependencies. With these benefits, backlog grooming now means future sprints are more focused. More focused sprints mean higher productivity in a shorter amount of time.

    deep backlog

    It is the single source of requirements for any changes to be made to the product.” The Product Owner is responsible for the Product Backlog, including its content, availability, and ordering. By whitelisting SlideShare on your ad-blocker, you are supporting our community of content creators. Emergent — keeping new ideas and adding to the list as and when the more recent discoveries are made. Creating a shared understanding of the goal and actions to achieve it. With all these tools now in your hands, the only thing left is to get started.

    What is a sprint backlog? How to create one, with examples

    Moreover, at the implementation level, these stories should also be as independent of each other as possible. However, sometimes certain implementation-level dependencies may be unavoidable. Become part of Digital.ai global partner network to fundamentally change the way customers create and deliver software.

    deep backlog

    Each expert, for example, contributes information about new discoveries and answers questions about new or existing user stories. Then, come sprint planning days, backlog clarity and familiarity fosters immediate collaboration. In addition, an appreciation for team members’ contributions encourages everyone to work together. A product backlog captures the details about all we are planning to do, to achieve our vision. It is a prioritized list of everything that is deemed necessary related to required initiatives, projects and even the smaller things like requests and tech debt. This estimation can be done by comparing relative sizes of large epics.

    If a story needs to take no more than N/4 staff week of team effort (ex. 20 staff-hours for two-week sprints), all SMART tasks in a story should add up to no more than N/4 staff week of team effort. If you have five tasks, each task on an average should take four hours of ideal time effort or less. A product backlog stores, organizes, and manages all work items that you plan to work on in the future. While providing agile training, consulting, and coaching engagements at Digital.ai, formerly VersionOne, our clients often ask how to logically structure, organize, and manage their product backlog. Clients also want to know how to prioritize or rank work items.

    More Doable Task Lists

    Now an action plan of best practices implementation has to be developed. The team will communicate and collaborate efficiently and be involved in the planning process. Custom formulas work well for prioritizing backlogs in situations with a lot of data and a lot of complexity.

    The person who serves as the backlog grooming lead may differ based on the team and its needs. However, it is common for a Scrum master or project manager to lead. I use the strategy of INVESTing in stories and SMART tasks only for the next sprint backlog, but not doing so at the release or product backlog levels. INVESTing in stories and tasks over a longer time horizon will yield poor returns. Although product backlog management is the responsibility of the Product Owner, the whole team can participate in refinement. This collaborative process removes the typical anti-pattern of passing stories to the development team with no context.

    If it happens on a Friday, then sprint planning might get pushed to Monday morning before a sprint starts. In this guide, we explore what backlog grooming is, including its key terms, what meetings look like and who should attend them. We then dive into the best practices and tools you can use to make the most of your backlog grooming process. Typically, many of these work items are epics; however, they should be still small enough to fit in a release cycle and can be completed over two or more sprints in a release cycle.

    For example, let’s say you have a set of features from the roadmap and you receive a requirement from the stakeholders to include another feature. Based on this change, the product owner needs to place additional stories in the backlog. At the same time, there might be another feature that previously appeared earlier in the prioritized list but now takes a back seat as per the updated product roadmap. The team must aim to resolve any foreseeable obstacles as soon as possible before a sprint starts. If this is not done, the item should be removed from the prioritized user stories list.

    Prepare yourself to communicate not only what they are but also why they’re important. If you can’t explain why something is a high priority in the backlog, it isn’t ready to be there. Many agile practitioners say a “DEEP” product backlog is the key outcome of a backlog refinement session. Pivotal TrackerPivotal Tracker offers a free plan for up to five employees and paid plans that start at $10 per month for six to 10 team members.

    Upcoming items in the backlog can be easily understood by team members, without being overly detailed. Mike Cohn specializes in helping companies adopt and improve their use of agile processes and techniques to build extremely high-performance teams. 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. Easy Agile is dedicated to helping agile teams work more effectively. We have a suite of Jira apps designed for teams that want to develop products that put the customer at the forefront of decision making.

    Each letter stands for a specific characteristic of a well-groomed backlog. What you need to know to conduct a story-writing workshop with your team. Product backlogs are discussed in much more detail in Succeeding with Agile.