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Techniques and Practices for Product Backlog Refinement

Those wanting to change the Product Backlog can do so by trying to convince the Product Owner. The Product Owner is accountable for maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work of the Scrum Team. How this is done may vary widely across organizations, Scrum Teams, and individuals. If any aspects of a process deviate outside acceptable limits or if the resulting product is unacceptable, the process being applied or the materials being produced must be adjusted. The adjustment must be made as soon as possible to minimize further deviation. Scrum combines four formal events for inspection and adaptation within a containing event, the Sprint.

Why the Product Backlog Refinement is Important

With excellent presentation skills and a solid background, he ensures that all clients gain maximum benefit from his training. Even though Product Backlog Refinement and Sprint Planning share some similarities both Scrum Events strive to ensure success in product delivery and make the organisation a success. Sprint Planning keeps the backlog clean and healthy without any mess so that the products are delivered on time and with full customer satisfaction. Only members involved in prioritizing backlog product list attend the Backlog Refinement meeting. The Scrum Team shares all the information having final delivery kept in mind and discusses it in the meeting of Scrum Planning which brings transparency in projects and in an organisation.

What Goes in the Product Backlog?

A lack of proper channels for communicating these changes can lead to improper product decisions, implementation of the wrong decisions, and, ultimately, a product that doesn’t meet user needs. At the top of this Figure above are the orange, largest bricks. They represent the business goals to be achieved by the system, namely use cases or user features. As time goes on and Sprint Velocity improves, you may want to make coordinated refinement meetings less frequent – weekly or once per Sprint. When you’ve built a high Sprint Velocity, a once-per-Sprint refinement session might be the most time effective approach for you. Whereas starting the week with backlog refinement might provide a nice way of easing into that week’s work.

Identify tasks that were started in the previous sprint but did not get completed. Understand why they weren’t completed, and determine how these tasks will be incorporated into the next sprint. Product Backlog Items are the elements that make up the Product Backlog. Product Backlog Items can range from specifications and requirements, to use cases, epics, User Stories, or even bugs, or time-boxed research tasks.

Backlog refinement meetings help define what will be implemented during the next sprint. This makes Sprint Planning meetings shorter and more efficient because they only need to focus on how the implantation will be done. All the other questions that would have arisen during sprint planning will already have been answered in the backlog refinement meeting. Sprint Planning is often needed to be prepared for ensuring that the Product Backlog has been refined to an appropriate level of detail, with estimates and acceptance criteria . After the product backlog refinement meeting, the team can update the Product Backlog items in line, based on the discussions held. Finally, you can get a potentially shippable product, ready to be deployed in the market.

If a new idea is presented and you’re still heavily in the «I don’t understand» stage five minutes later, it’s a good sign the product owner needs to do more work offline. The product owner or manager is supposed to lead the meeting and make sure all decisions are in line with the overall product strategy. I think the idea behind it is that is two-fold or rather one depends on the other. Rather, the story may be for something like a service for another team to consume. Without it, you can not define the boundaries of a user story and confirm when a story is done and working as intended.

How to Run a Backlog Refinement Session Effectively

Specific details are only finalized when they slide higher on the Product Backlog priority scale or timeline. Scrum consists of the Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Development Team members working in cohesion towards sprint goals, usually involving a product feature or upgrade. Within the Scrum methodology ecosystem, product backlog forms an integral part of https://globalcloudteam.com/ the process, and refining the product backlog is key to Agile success. Productboard is a product management system that enables teams to get the right products to market faster. Built on top of the Product Excellence framework, Productboard serves as the dedicated system of record for product managers and aligns everyone on the right features to build next.

Why the Product Backlog Refinement is Important

It reduces the time product managers and product owners spend planning sprints and increases the productivity of everyone involved in building the product. You need to keep things moving along and ensure conversations stay on track. 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.

How to Prepare for a Backlog Refinement (Grooming)?

Stefan—based in Berlin, Germany—has been working for 16-plus years as an agile coach, Scrum Master, and Product Owner. He has developed B2C as well as B2B software, for startups as well as corporations, including a former Google subsidiary. Stefan curates the ‘Food for Agile Thought’ newsletter and organizes the Agile Camp Berlin, a Barcamp for coaches and other agile practitioners.

This is a simple acronym you can think about when it comes to the key elements of a well refined backlog. Detailed stories help developers to understand what they need to work on. Stories that are estimated for effort can in prioritizing based on the value they will provide. Product backlogs should be emergent, this means they will change over time. Finally, product backlogs must be prioritized from the least to the most valuable item so that the team always knows what work they should be doing to deliver the most value. Another simple acronym you can remember when it comes to helping your team with their product backlog refinement is INVEST.

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You need to prune and clip at it to make sure it is the right shape and size. You need to nourish it and actively manage it to make sure it is following the correct path of growth. But if you only look at your backlog once per Sprint it’s going to be a hot mess. And still others do it mid-iteration and alternate the Backlog Refinement and Sprint Planning meetings.

Creating new user stories and removing others

Such symbiotic relationships need to be studied and accounted for beforehand in the Product Backlog. Three, how difficult or time-consuming is it to implement the feature? This will also influence the timelines and resource allocation. On the extreme side, don’t let an unproductive conversation go on for more than five minutes.

  • ScopeMaster’s ability to analyse a set of user stories looking for missing and duplicate functionality, allows the team to get a better understanding of overall scope much earlier.
  • Known to many as “The Gorilla Coach,” he offers more than 20 years of experience coaching teams and managing products at blue chip software companies.
  • Their description is beyond the purpose of the Scrum Guide because they are context sensitive and differ widely between Scrum uses.
  • Shorter Sprints can be employed to generate more learning cycles and limit risk of cost and effort to a smaller time frame.
  • If your team consistently fails to complete planned work during a Sprint, it is very possible that the backlog items may not include a sufficient level of detail.
  • Product backlog refinement is a challenging and important test that all Scrum teams need to do on a regular basis.

After all, if the product doesn’t work for your customers, nothing else matters. The Interviewer asks questions that the audience would be expected to ask, like a general description of the product backlog item, expectations, limitations, etc. But the Scrum Guide does not give a detailed description of how exactly to undertake this task.

What is a Product Backlog?

While agile is full of different techniques, meetings and processes, you don’t need to follow any of them by the book. You can think of your product backlog like a Japanese Bonsai tree. It’s natural to want to schedule backlog refinement at the end of the Sprint just like the other rituals. All of this helps teams arrive at clearly defined and prioritised blocks of work that can be taken forward into the next sprint. Goodbye to stories that are no more than titles in user story template format. It leverages the benefits of collaboration in detailing user stories and defects.

They can ask questions about specific tasks or items on the backlog to gain a better understanding of what is required. The first step in any refinement meeting is to review the product backlog in full, to identify any tasks that are no longer relevant or need further clarification. If the development team doesn’t understand the task, it’s not going to get done no matter what priority is set. If your team consistently fails to complete planned work during a Sprint, it is very possible that the backlog items may not include a sufficient level of detail.

Why the Product Backlog Refinement is Important

By the time everyone knows what’s what, you have 10 minutes left to add depth to user stories, hold detailed discussions, or estimate effort. Daily sessions are a great option for teams that have just begun implementing agile, because it builds the habit of regularly visiting the backlog and pruning it. You can even try the “walking the board” approach to standups.

Add new tasks

Nothing gets built unless it’s on the backlog, but listing an item on the backlog doesn’t guarantee that it will be executed. The backlog refinement process ensures that only the most relevant tasks get committed for delivery in the following sprint. With the answers to those questions in mind, you can start looking at what the next few sprints might look like. Most likely, you’ll need to re-prioritize the backlog based on new findings and evolving needs.

stacks to streamline workflows, data capture, and transparency across the

Scrum is built upon by the collective intelligence of the people using it. Rather than provide people with detailed instructions, the rules of Scrum guide their relationships and interactions. Detailed Appropriately — User stories and other items in the product backlog that will be done soon need to be sufficiently well understood by cross-functional teams. Items and initiatives that will not be delivered for a while should be described with less detail. Ideally, you’ll have the next 2 or 3 sprints worth of stories prioritized before the grooming session. They don’t need to be fully developed stories with comprehensive acceptance criteria just yet.

This agile refirement technique will help reconnect the leaders, business representatives, and subject matter experts with people who are much closer to the existing product’s challenge deep backlog at hand. Organize people in small groups (2-4) and ask them to combine their lists in 6 minutes. Together they refine their lists, combine them into one document, and add new items.

The functional size of the refined story is a consistent, standardised and immutable value. This frees up team time to discuss the best ways of how to deliver the story most efficiently. A product backlog generally contains user stories , high granularity epics and more detailed user stories.

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