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Top 8 Best Practices for Product Backlog Refinement

By March 24, 2021November 4th, 2022No Comments

Several approaches are used for weighting the importance and urgency of each item in the backlog, so that they can be prioritized against each other. The MO brings the team and stakeholders together for sessions dedicated to refining it. This means no two items in the backlog can have the same priority; there are no two number one items. If you’re sizing work, you may want to limit the long-term backlog to just 3’s and above.

deep backlog

Successful product owners will see their stakeholders as a team, not merely a set of individuals. As the project progresses, more and more information and knowledge are obtained, and the user stories in the product Backlog are also added, removed, or rearranged. Items in the backlog should contain enough contextual information for your cross-functional team to understand and discuss.

Step 3: Prioritize the items

The Backlog Item Status dashboard displays the total number of backlog items by status for every product owner and scrum master. It’s a complicated process their product owner, Rikard, simplifies through real-time backlog management. When change happens — whether feedback from customers, sales teams, executives, or other stakeholders, he’s able to adapt quickly. A good product manager should own the backlog and act as the gatekeeper who controls what features appear on it and are executed.

Therefore, it is so very vital to go back and work on earlier ideas, time, and again. It is also important to keep amending and adjusting the ideas to suit the current requirements. This is why it is critical to follow Product Backlog Refinement best practices for productive and optimized effect.

A backlog is constructed so that the high-priority items appear at the top of the list, and the least important ones are at the bottom. Product managers are supposed to promote the inclusion of items in the backlog rather than blocking them. Blocking should occur only in extreme cases, when a product manager is fully confident that a feature is worthless. Instead of blocking the items, let the prioritizing process do the filtering. 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.

At any point of the project, the ones working on it should keep in mind what the main goals of the project are. So, even when preparing for the grooming sessions, the high-level objectives of the project should be kept in mind. Generally, these sessions take about 45 minutes to an hour. So, the lead has to also try to ensure that the meetings don’t take too much time. At this stage, a product manager has to be hands-on and support execution by answering questions and removing bottlenecks.

Sync up with stakeholders

After features are implemented and released, label them as “done” and archive under the master backlog. You might need them for sprint retrospective and KPI measurement. The concept is applied throughout the product backlog refinement process, which is a key part of backlog management. This process takes the items at top of the ordered product backlog and decomposes them into ‘good’ user stories. ‘Good’ stories have the three magic C’s–“Card, Conversation, Confirmation” — and should be written according to the INVEST principle.

deep backlog

How surprised she was when I told her that she doesn’t have to describe everything that is added to the backlog in detail! She kept items separately in her private backlog until all details were precise. She felt overwhelmed all the time, and she couldn’t manage her time effectively since she was spending much time on items that were not a priority for the team right now. When I coach a team to help it to raise its productivity and to open its eyes to the mistakes in its way of working, I always start with an audit of its Product Backlog. Not by accident, it is the artifact at the start of the Scrum diagram.

The 3 Essential Elements of a Streamlined Product Strategy

The vision backlog is a strategic list of initiatives that span a year or more. It’s used by leadership to refine and prioritize the direction of the department or organization at large. It provides execution teams with context, but isn’t specific enough for daily task management. To make this easy, the Hansoft deep backlog backlog is placed in a separate window. With Hansoft, you can keep your backlog updated easily with input from stakeholders, such as customers, sales and marketing teams, or executives. E – Estimated – Teams should draw a good estimate of the work needed to deliver backlog items which are at the top.

The criteria that are more likely to not be given enough attention are the first and the third . By trying to make our product backlog DEEP, we can ensure that we do not overlook those attributes as many do. The items at the top of the backlog have more accurate estimates. The lower priority items are estimated at high level and can be re-estimated as team gets more information.

How to manage product backlog properly?

Also, if it is a meeting that takes typically about 1 hour, go in for a weekly session. If, you, however, choose to go in for shorter meetings- then repeat the regularity of the sessions. It is important to call only key Stakeholders or top representatives from each team. Busywork has to be controlled and reduced, otherwise, it can easily take up most of the working day. It is especially important in Agile projects where the teams are not fully immersed in Agile principles yet and can deviate from working on the main tasks.

Keeping your customers embedded in your process will help you make refinement decisions that are in the best interest of the customer, no matter what phase of development you’re in. The concept is applied throughout the product backlog refinement process, which is a critical part of backlog management. Backlog refinement, previously called backlog grooming, is an ongoing process that ensures a backlog is in tip-top shape. We like to think of it like trimming the branches of a plant.

Raytheon logs declines in defence sales despite billions in backlog – Flightglobal

Raytheon logs declines in defence sales despite billions in backlog.

Posted: Tue, 25 Oct 2022 07:00:00 GMT [source]

The objective of the item – how it will help a customer or user do their jobs. Items with a lower priority, the ones further down, can and should have less effort invested in them and have fewer details. You can reflect new insights easily by adding, changing, and removing items. Identifying risks and obstacles for items close to implementation.

Newbie PM’s Guide to the Product Requirements Document

The items on top tend to be described more comprehensively, while the level of detail decreases with priority as you go down the backlog list. As noted, you may prefer a more technical way of describing your backlog items instead of using user stories and epics. Items at the top are a higher priority, and items toward the bottom are a lower priority. When deciding which items should be prioritized, consider the value each item will provide. Thorough estimation should be focused on high-priority items that will be tackled soon.

  • Product Backlog Refinement can be productive only when it becomes a collaborative platform – each open to sharing ideas, brainstorming, and discussing the same.
  • A product manager has to be proactive and drive the team in order to push the best stories into the development stage.
  • Obviously, these are opposite ends of the spectrum, and we want to be somewhere in the middle.
  • All items in the backlog must have estimates, although the level of accuracy can vary.
  • This session should focus completely on ideas refinement.

Hansoft makes it easy to conduct backlog grooming using the best practices of a DEEP backlog. A DEEP backlog is Detailed, Estimated, Emergent, and Prioritized. We’ve mentioned above who the ideal people in the story grooming process are. You need to decide who are the best people to invite if you’re the one conducting the meeting.

What is Productboard?

Quickly breakdown items to the level of detail you need, from coarse to granular. E – Emergent – The agenda isn’t concrete and changes over time. Since your team’s working style could evolve over time, it’s good to get an idea of what to keep and what to discard. Tracking and reviewing performance metrics helps with this. Now that you know what Story grooming is, let’s understand how the practice came into being. The Overview module will also be adapted for greater flexibility.

Usually, the product owner or product manager facilitates the backlog refinement events. It’s not limited to them, though, and the Scrum master, a project manager or another member from the team also occasionally leads the events. Occasionally, the scrum master estimates the user stories and assigns story points in these sessions.

If you have multiple MOs, you lose time in negotiation and it may be impossible to arrive at a meaningful consensus. But if you must have more than one MO, make sure you have a tie-breaker ready to settle disagreements about priorities. Any favoritism displayed by the MO falls on them, not the Agile marketing team. We need someone who understands both the business needs and the team’s capacity so they can make daily decisions about what work gets done and when. More about them here), is responsible for the team’s output. Whatever the Agile marketing team produces falls on the MO’s head.

What is the difference between product backlog and sprint backlog?

Higher-priority user stories will have greater detail and context and be clearly defined. That modifier “prioritized” is crucial because that’s what helps differentiate the backlog from any other non-Agile to-do list. Important, time-sensitive, valuable work lives at the top; work gets less important and less valuable as you move toward the bottom. Good product backlogs should be D.E.E.P. This acronym summarises the characteristics of a good product backlog.

Because, it represents feedback from many sources, such as developers, sales, marketing and end-users. Product Backlog helps you understand the main goal, and achieve it by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable chunks. Following the DEEP guidelines and best practices will lead to a quality backlog, which will lead to smooth product development and a successful result. Don’t forget to share transparent updates with stakeholders to communicate the current status of your backlog.

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