What is Backlog Grooming? Definition and Overview

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As you consider the above tips, don’t forget the agile principle to ‘keep things simple .’ These tips aim to provide guidance and are not prescriptions. Every product development effort is unique and has its own set of nuances, which will help you determine the most effective methods to conduct effective backlog grooming sessions. 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. Then, do a preliminary prioritization of backlog items so you know what items to focus on in your meeting. Finally, share your notes with team members so they can be prepared for a productive backlog grooming meeting.

Allow everyone to be heard and valued while keeping the team focused. Stakeholders should be consulted regularly, both internally and externally . As a product manager, you serve as a link between stakeholders and strategy. The backlog is also an excellent opportunity to provide business updates. The sprint backlog provides a place to track any changes when deadlines or KPIs change, new initiatives emerge or clients’ demands change. Sync up with your team and any other relevant counterparts or execs to get their feedback and adjust accordingly.

  • Nothing gets done unless it’s on the backlog, but simply listing an item doesn’t guarantee that it will be accomplished.
  • Sometimes during a grooming session, the team discovers another task that must be completed before executing a new feature.
  • As such, during sprint planning and execution, team members are unhindered by fear of the unknown, which often hinders buy-in.
  • A great way to avoid this is involving some members of the Development Team in backlog refinement.
  • There may also potentially be one or two stakeholders, if subject matter expertise is needed.
  • One will usually serve as the facilitator and run the meeting.

Backlog grooming is an ongoing process and focuses on long-term goals; Sprint Planning happens at the beginning of each iteration and focuses on its goal. Has tickets created by multiple users, showing the team is forward-thinking, and everyone is contributing. Emergent- is for the new ideas that should be kept adding to the Product Backlog as and when the newer discoveries are being made.

Sustain Backlog’s Relevancy

User stories that are divided into multiple smaller, independent stories are more testable than longer user stories. Not being on the same page about the description or acceptance criteria of user stories can lead developers to implement half-baked stories or stories that lead to unexpected results. In situations like that, during review, the product owner would provide more clarification and send the user story back to the developer to revise and implement it as expected. It’s not hard to see how this back-and-forth might delay the delivery of the feature. If the team is working a one-week sprint cycle, running a backlog refinement meeting every week is a recommended practice.

This data can be quantitative (e.g. statistical results from an A/B test) or qualitative (e.g. new feature requests from users). Either way, the goal is to identify how to build the right product that fits within the scope of the product roadmap and vision. A backlog is a dynamic artifact that constantly changes as per the product roadmap. New stories are added and outdated user stories are removed as the need arises.

For this reason, you also shouldn’t consider Backlog Refinement vs. Sprint planning as an either/or activity. Consistent, embedded use of Backlog Refinement techniques will make planning for Sprints easier. Indeed, during refinement you should also check that the items are still actually relevant and that they haven’t morphed into something else in the meantime. Another planning item that needs to be taken into consideration is dependencies and any research that needs to be conducted before acceptance criteria can be added and work can be estimated. Attendance at a backlog refinement event is ideally the entire Scrum Team, including the Product Owner, the Scrum Master, and Development Team. There may also potentially be one or two stakeholders, if subject matter expertise is needed.

backlog grooming best practices

Assign accurate prioritization to your backlog items to help you decide if they are worth escalating to the sprint backlog. But you can adjust these to better fit your team’s operations. To prioritize accurately, consider factors like ship value, urgency, business goals, stakeholders’ interests, and product/project strategy. For instance, a software development team’s backlog may consist of new features, technical debt, user stories, and bugs. Meanwhile, a marketing team’s backlog may consist of content-related tasks, campaign strategies, and creative deliverables.

Refining the backlog saves time and money by ensuring that its items are ready for development at the right time. On the other hand, it guarantees that only customer-valuable items are implemented. Better sprint planning and retrospectives with user story maps in Jira. It’s constantly growing, shrinking, and changing as the team receives feedback from the project’s stakeholders. Backlog items may be deleted, added, or edited and may change in priority. The process starts with collecting and analyzing feedback from customers and users.

When deadlines or metrics change, new initiatives emerge, or clients’ needs change, the sprint backlog offers a place to document all of these changes. Since it’s a repository for all work that needs to be completed, it makes sense to put these kinds of updates in the backlog so that the entire team stays up to date. It’s also helpful to have task lists structured on boards — like Teamwork’s Board View.

Got a Project in Mind? Get Started Now.

Refining also means breaking down big items and initiatives into smaller, more doable tasks. If your team is focused on product development, then you will be building a product backlog, but if project management is more up your alley, then you need a project 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. The backlog refinement meeting takes place before the Sprint planning. Without a properly-groomed backlog, the planning session won’t be as productive as it could have been.

backlog grooming best practices

One popular Product Backlog Refinement technique, which works equally well in a project context, is to define what a ‘Ready’ item looks like. But if Backlog Refinement doesn’t become embedded, backlog refinement techniques it can soon fall by the wayside. And when that happens, just watch the backlog become a free-for-all wishlist, full of undefined and unconnected items that lack rhyme or reason.

Ideally, all product team members should attend backlog grooming sessions to ensure a shared awareness of different perspectives. Scrum teams shouldn’t be larger than 9 people, so it’s easy to accommodate such a number in a meeting. Product teams add or remove, prioritize and estimate user stories and other items during backlog refinement sessions. Everyone who attends a backlog grooming session should do some form of preparation ahead of time. This especially applies to product owners and product managers, whose failure to prepare can lead to frustratingly inefficient sessions.

Boosts Team Efficiency

It’s something your team is referring back to for updates and it ensures that everyone is on the same page. What’s even more beneficial than just you and your team getting updates as they occur, is that your information teams receive feedback from customers during demos. That way, after you showcase the product, the backlog captures stakeholder or customer feedback which will help you make adjustments and modifications as necessary. Use a meeting management tool like Fellow to collaboratively keep track of backlog items, talking points, and easily send meeting notes to attendees and stakeholders.

A product backlog is a list of tasks that the product development team creates from the product roadmap. In a product backlog, essential items are typically placed first to highlight the tasks that the team should prioritize. In a backlog grooming session, the team prioritizes the backlog of tasks to be discussed during sprint https://globalcloudteam.com/ planning. Based on that discussion, the developers commit to work on a selected set of user stories. A typical backlog grooming error is to combine all of these data into a single backlog list with no classification. It is essential to segregate your development backlog from your product backlog and insights backlog.

backlog grooming best practices

The product owner is the only person whose presence is a must for the backlog grooming sessions. Additionally, you can invite one or two development team members to share their inputs and ideas. There is no need to invite the entire product development team. Plus, you can also add any stakeholder who is directly involved with the product and might have relevant inputs.

Turn backlog refinement meetings into collaborative experiences so that everyone on the product team gets an in-depth look at the agile project. These sessions are also the perfect opportunity to update the team on new features, user insights, bugs, and other information that accumulates over time. The product owner, the product manager, and the development team attend the backlog grooming meetings.

As fresh user insights are gathered, the backlog will be adjusted to meet the demands of the customers. When executed rightly, it will help your team maximize their efficiency but also smoothens the product development process. Think about which tools are going to be the most efficient for you to collect data and share it.

Owner of Backlog Grooming Process

Implementing well-managed meetings will improve the overall speed and efficiency of the sprint planning meetings that follow, helping to boost commitment and product familiarity. Meetings have a nasty tendency to interrupt workflows and, so, reduce productivity. Too many can also leave team members frustrated by their inability to manage their time around meetings. So, when possible, combine meetings to focus on more than one sprint per meeting. In doing so, you reduce the number of meetings needed to get the same amount of backlog grooming done. As more information comes in, you should expect to update it with items and stories being added, removed and reprioritized.

backlog grooming best practices

Some tasks cannot begin until another dependent task is completed. These dependencies can halt team members and delay progress if not identified or managed. Many ideas are thrown into the mix, as with every other team meeting.

Know what is in your backlog

However, there is no standard time for how long it should be running. The Scrum Master facilitates planning for the Sprint meeting to help the team develop the Sprint Backlog. They pick items for discussion from the top of the list and create their sprint backlog according to the capacity and complexity of parameters. Arrange backlog items based on how ready they are for the sprint backlog and how much value they deliver to help with accurate prioritization. Backlog grooming is key as it significantly improves sprint planning.

What is Sprint Backlog?

At the end of the activity, the team is set to have a prioritized list of new ideas. They help in understanding customers’ perspectives on product features by assessing their satisfaction and sentiment. Similarly, we prioritize functionality or tasks in software development because few functionalities are more important than others. 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.

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. If a user story is re-prioritized and becomes a low priority, there is no point in discussing it.

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

GuidanceGuidance allows admins to suggest talking points for managers to discuss during their 1-on-1s. Leverage a grooming tool to improve the grooming process if necessary. Improve prioritization and collaboration by defining the dependencies between items. Features that are better to be avoided as they can have a negative impact on the customer.

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