Backlog grooming: Definition, benefits, and best practices

The new product development process can be messy and unwieldy if it’s not managed carefully. In agile projects, product backlog grooming is the key to making sure that projects stay on track. 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. In backlog grooming meetings, a few activities are commonly included.

Understanding Agile Product Backlog and Product Roadmap – Appinventiv

Understanding Agile Product Backlog and Product Roadmap.

Posted: Thu, 30 Sep 2021 07:00:00 GMT [source]

The acronym D.E.E.P., coined by long-time Agile advocate Roman Pichler, is commonly used to describe the ideal, well-managed backlog. We design and engineer award-winning technology products that users love, across mobile, web and Internet of Things platforms. Information provided on Forbes Advisor is for educational purposes only. Your financial situation is unique and the products and services we review may not be right for your circumstances.

Tips to Prepare for Informal Interviews

The refinement meeting itself is an effective communication means within the Scrum Team. It accumulates a shared, comprehensive understanding of requirements among the dev team reducing the level of unplanned rework. This means that they can be realistically “Done” within the Sprint time-box. Arrange backlog items based on how ready they are for the sprint backlog and how much value they deliver to help with accurate prioritization.

  • Remember that while you want entire team representation, don’t invite too many people because they can slow things down.
  • Furthermore, we advise you to give the rest of your cross-functional team a heads up before your grooming session.
  • It is not the responsibility of the Product Owner only to keep the meeting on track and oriented towards the customers.
  • If required, the team may divide huge backlog items into smaller ones.
  • It’s an intrinsic aspect of dealing with the fuzzy uncertainty of defining a new software system.

Meanwhile, a marketing team’s backlog may consist of content-related tasks, campaign strategies, and creative deliverables. This is yet to include new requirements that come up during product testing or user stories. Teams that resort to adding last-minute work to an ongoing sprint end up with scope creep, which isn’t an ideal situation. In other words, not all tasks should be completed in the immediate sprints.

Why is backlog grooming important?

Instead, the goal should be to refine the list and keep the backlog filled with relevant PBIs. The product backlog should be the single source of truth for the product requirements. If it’s not in the backlog, the team shouldn’t be working on it.

backlog grooming best practices

Scrum, one of the most popular Agile frameworks, suggests building software in iterations, aka Sprints, which last from two to four weeks. As a result of each Sprint, the team releases a product increment. Added to one another, increments eventually make up a complete software application. Add items for upcoming work or new initiatives to the backlog and groom them accordingly. Enrich prioritized items with adequate information to provide clarity and context.

How to Write Software Requirements Specifications: Best Practices and SRS Tools

It means that you commit to the regular delivery of increments. To achieve this, agile teams need to be focused and effective. As fresh user insights are gathered, the backlog will be adjusted to meet the demands of the customers. The Product Owner should influence estimation by helping the dev team understand and select trade-offs, but the final decision is theirs. If the agreement still can’t be reached, the facilitator , can go with the highest, the lowest, or the most common estimation.

Slack IntegrationCollaborate on meeting agendas, share notes, and exchange feedback – without leaving Slack. Cross-Functional MeetingsStay aligned on projects, drive progress and accountability, and improve collaboration. GuidanceGuidance allows admins to suggest talking points for managers to discuss during their 1-on-1s.

Manage Session Time Well

Additionally, involving stakeholders in backlog grooming helps build buy-in for the product roadmap. When stakeholders feel like they’ve had a say in how the product is developed, they’re more likely to support it. Learn how agile release planning can help you with your software development and agile project plan. And unless you have a polished backlog, your mission guide will get you no further than the first page of your backlog. We hope the backlog refinement tips shared in this blog helped you answer that question. There will be different opinions about prioritizing and organizing the team during development.

Usually, there are up to three voting rounds for each user story. But this approach won’t work if your product backlog has a significant amount of uncertainty that requires thorough discussions. In this case, it’s better to have a separate meeting for that. Splitting user stories to fit the scope of the upcoming Sprint.

backlog grooming best practices

Keep in mind that backlog refinement is a process and not a task. Just because a user story is selected to be refined doesn’t mean it will be fully refined that day. It’s common for the product owner to need time to obtain clarification from other subject matter experts.

Tips for running product backlog refinement sessions

Move low-priority items to a separate list, making the Backlog list shorter and easier to understand. Backlog grooming must have a founding principle, and the foundation of all principles is the customer. When considering which stories to choose from your backlog, always remember that you’re eventually aiming to satisfy customers. The product is being created for customers, and hence, you should keep them in mind every step of the way.

Whether you’re practicing scrum or kanban, it’s all about pulling a team together with a variety of tools to create a high-performance environment that maximizes productivity. Backlog grooming is part of that — and it’s a meaningful way to keep product development organized and running smoothly. In Stack Ranking, you examine each backlog item and place it in the order of priority. Starting with one, then two, three, and continue to n, followed by the total number of items in your backlog.

Product Backlog prioritization plays one of the most critical exercises in agile software development. Your backlog needs to be structured, organized, and arranged to favor your team’s most strategically important things to work on. The product manager needs to ensure that no one feels left out and unheard. For example, a feature that needs API integration with another platform might need to be completed before the UI can be developed on the application. This additional task of API integration must therefore take priority. In this scenario, the task for API integration is created and placed above the actual feature to be implemented.

backlog grooming best practices

However, it is not recommended to devote too much time to these sessions. The consensus is that a backlog grooming session should last 45 minutes to an hour. Third-party backlog grooming apps are great for project managers that need a speedy way to groom their backlogs.

When the backlog receives input from a large number of individuals or teams inside the company, it might be chaotic. As a result of the refining activities, the next chunk of backlog items is ready for delivery meaning that it has the necessary level of transparency for its accurate implementation. Here are useful tips for Product Owners functioning as facilitators backlog grooming best practices of the backlog refinement meeting. The Product Owner presents a user story and the Development Team asks questions to get a common understanding. They also discuss what needs to be done and how it needs to be done to satisfy the acceptance criteria. The meeting is usually recorded so that the Product Owner can document the summary afterward.

How Agile backlog grooming improves productivity

As teams move through sprints, backlogs are created automatically within the software. Before your backlog grooming meeting, review your quarterly goals so you know which stories should be prioritized in light of them. In addition, gather feedback from stakeholders on their expectations surrounding product development.

Your estimates are also going to change, and these too need to be reflected in the backlog. This discussion should happen during the sprint planning meeting. The whole team should be involved so that everyone has a chance to provide input and ask questions. This will help ensure that the story is well-understood before it’s added to the sprint, which will make it more likely to be completed successfully.

They should be present at all backlog grooming meetings to verify steps are taken for quality assurance. Product backlog grooming sessions also allow product owners and managers a chance to align on priorities and strategic purposes for improved cross-functional team collaboration. Backlog grooming is often considered a practice that adds granularity to the product backlog and helps create an actionable list of Agile user stories ready for sprint planning. Sometimes during a grooming session, the team discovers another task that must be completed before executing a new feature. Adding new user stories in this situation ensures there are no gaps or missed steps as the team works on tasks in the backlog. In a typical backlog grooming session, the product owner walks the team through new features and designs based on the user stories in the backlog.

Short and frequent meetings can be much more effective than long infrequent meetings since there are more opportunities to address any issues as they arise. For example, the team may add, remove, or edit various user stories or product workflows. If the feedback invalidates a core assumption, the team may need to adjust the wider product strategy, remove most or all of the backlog content, or even start over with a new backlog. 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. Appropriately Detailed — Cross-functional teams must understand user stories and other things in the backlog that will be completed shortly.


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