Key Tips For Maintaining Good Product Backlog in Agile and Scrum

Introduction

Backlog refinement trough time

Key tips for maintaining a good backlog

Conclusion

 


 

Introduction

Backlog is living part of the project or heart of the project which should be maintained in a proper way on a regular basis. This doesn’t mean that we should refine every single work item in the backlog, but we should focus to have finely groomed work items, that will be sufficient always for next two coming sprints.

 

So as the timing to deliver work items is getting closed, we should be more certain that the top work items are going to be delivered soon. In that time, we would definitely want to understand requirements better, with higher level of details of what is actually expected from the work or delivery perspective.

 

This is a great opportunity to get inside the head of Product Owner and ask the questions in order to understand requirements in a detailed way, that will help the team to deliver expected result.

 

Backlog refinement trough time

In the image below, you will see that at the end of Backlog there are work items, which will be probably divided in later grooming sessions into smaller work items. During our development, we’ll be adding new work items or removing existing ones, if they become obsolete. The more we’ll be approaching to the work items with higher priority, the more detailed and refined they will be.

 

Backlog_Refinement

This means that the work items with higher priority will capture requirements in more details, with having more meaningful title, more detailed description and well defined acceptance criteria. The more we go lower or down in the backlog, items will be less defined and detailed.

 

In some approaches requirements are captured as User Stories, which are explaining actually what is expected from user’s perspective. If you wish to read in more details about user stories, I welcome you to read this post about User Stories.

 

There are many benefits from capturing requirements as User Stories, and one among them is certainly the ability to define requirements from perspective that will bring value for the end user. Refining the requirements has a significant meaning for delivering working piece of product or service and this refinement is usualy done in the stages when development of this items is getting closer to actual beginning of the work or of development. In Scrum we usualy use some successful techniquies for defining the requirements’s size and content. I will explain more in details about reqirements size and estimations in my next post.

 

Key tips for maintaining a good backlog

Every team will choose the right fit for them in order to keep the Backlog in vital condition, but there are still some main points that every team should take into consideration in order to keep the backlog ready and well maintained.

 

Some featured or key tips on how to keep the backlog vital:

  • Always be ready for next two weeks, have all the work items for following two weeks prioritized and fine refined or groomed
  • Prioritize work items in the backlog wisely and include on the top of the backlog only high-level requirements
  • Use appropriate details level meaning that all the user stories which will be developed soon need to be well understood from all team members, so that they can be completed in the coming sprint.
  • Regular Maintenance of the Backlog

 

Backlog_Cycle

 

Conclusion

Keeping the Backlog in a good state is not only important from perspective of capturing the requirements, but also from team’s understanding of requirements. Backlog Refinement will help teams to understand the requirements better and to gain better visibility.

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