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Backlog Refinement Grooming for Product: Cheat Sheet

If the item cannot be refined in 10 minutes, it usually means that either the item is too big and needs to be split, or, that you don’t have the right people in the room who are knowledgable about the item. Some people are critical of the use of the Definition of Ready. I don’t see it as much of an issue and if these types of things occur, they are easy to coach around. deep backlog A backlog can include hundreds of items or more, so it’s important to categorize them using labels and epics. A well organized and categorized backlog will makes the jobs of both the product owner and engineering team infinitely easier for upcoming sprints. Do not schedule backlog refinement meeting during the first and last 20% of the Sprint Planning session.

  • It keeps moving from idea to completed work and adapts to changing customer needs.
  • Working with requirements is crucial for Agile software development, Product Backlog Refinement is often used by teams to ensure that all parties understand what is expected of them.
  • Ultimately, the question of who attends Backlog Grooming sessions is dependent on the context and information you need.
  • Plus, refined backlog items are much easier to estimate and implement.
  • We empower organizations to build the right things by growing product leadership in the heart of a company.

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. The objective of a backlog grooming session is to position the team to deliver a better product more efficiently. The product owner who is spearheading the team has the crucial responsibility of maintaining the product backlog and conducting the grooming sessions to communicate next steps for the team.

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We wrote the first version of the Scrum Guide in 2010 to help people worldwide understand Scrum. We have evolved the Guide since then through small, functional updates. Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings. Stefan—based in Berlin, Germany—has been working for 16-plus years as an agile coach, Scrum Master, and Product Owner.

The Scrum Team members learn and explore the values as they work with the Scrum events and artifacts. When these values are embodied by the Scrum Team and the people they work with, the empirical Scrum pillars of transparency, inspection, and adaptation come to life building trust. Adaptation becomes more difficult when the people involved are not empowered or self-managing.

Who should be involved with backlog refinement meetings?

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. Plus, refined backlog items are much easier to estimate and implement.

Product Backlog Refinement

Product backlog refinement is sometimes called product backlog grooming, and we will use those terms interchangeably in the article. We’ve discussed product backlog item with product owner and they’ve provided feedback. One or more models that provide further insight into the product backlog item. May include wire frame, report mockup, spreadsheet showing data calculations, state chart or process flow. We then discussed each item starting with the highest vote-getters and working our way down. It’s essential to separate your development backlog from your product and insights backlog and make sure each item is marked accurately.

Food for Agile Thought #291

Below are some tips and best practices for running a successful backlog grooming session. The best backlog refinement sessions happen when every team member gets a say. Make sure people’s opinions are heard, especially of those that are not directly involved in the PBI development. Product Backlog refinement is the act of adding detail, estimates, and order to items in the Product Backlog. This is an ongoing process in which the Product Owner and the Development Team collaborate on the details of Product Backlog items.

The idea behind the refinement is to create a shared understanding with all team members of why a particular work item is valuable, what the Developers shall build, and how to realize the work technically. Contrary to this, many teams treat backlog refinement as purely about putting acceptance criteria and/or estimates on the current PBI’s, i.e. with a “next Sprint” lens rather than an “entire backlog” lens . Behind every efficient and effective agile team, there is a beautifully managed, refined backlog. Every item in the backlog is clear and defined, with a reasonable time estimate. There’s no need for the team to go hunting for more context or information as all the detail needed is right there, ready for someone to take the task and get to work.

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. Log all updates to the backlog items in a clear and short format. Do it either on the go during the meeting or shortly after, before you forget the nuances and important details. It will help the project in general but also will make your next refinement sessions much more efficient as people won’t have to go through a ton of notes. This would usually be the job of the product owner but any team member can take care of it.

Product Backlog Refinement

Hence, they remember what was decided from gathering all tasks for the next sprint! Other people are more relaxed about it and don’t want to spend a lot of time planning out every detail of their next sprint before they get started on it. However, if you find yourself in this position and care about improving the team’s efficiency, having a thorough grooming process allows everyone to better prepare themselves during the sprint.

Quick Reminder: What is Scrum?

Product refinement is the result of the product refinement meeting held between the product owner/manager, Scrum Master, or CTO and the development team. The product backlog is a prioritized list of work for the development team that consists of product backlog items . Because a new user story can be added at any point of the project, the backlog is ever-increasing, can easily get out of hand, and turn into a scope creep. Product backlog refinement is one of the most critical meetings in an agile project. This is where one makes sure that the product backlog items are built.

Backlog refinement meeting should be considered as the first part of Sprint Planning. Rather, the story may be for something like a service for another team to consume. Backlog refinement, when it is a regular meeting, improves overall project efficiency, keeps the backlog relevant and clean, and facilitates uninterrupted workflow. Agile Scrum, in turn, is very flexible and welcomes change as an opportunity. And working with change comes in many shapes and forms, one of them is working with product backlog regularly. Analyzing the estimated time each of the items will take to finish.

What productive backlog grooming sessions entail – TechTarget

What productive backlog grooming sessions entail.

Posted: Thu, 23 Sep 2021 07:00:00 GMT [source]

The team should let those with the outlier estimates explain their reasoning and assumptions. It also helps, if you are recording the results of your discussion in an online tool, to have one person entering information in the tool who is separate from the facilitator. And rotate both roles so that everyone on the team has a chance to experience it and will have empathy for those performing the role. Every item in the backlog must be thoroughly explained with all the appropriate details. 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.

Rewrite Written Stories

We all know that shared knowledge / keeping all people informed about everything is in no way easy, which is why Scrum has a lot of events to facilitate communication. If we establish a product owner team, we probably have to add new communication overhead. The purpose of backlog refinement is to make improvements to the product backlog. Though there is no official ceremony detailed in the Scrum Guide, the activity of refining the Backlog is. The product owner takes control of the refinement process to a point where he’s the only one making the decisions.

The Product Owner introduces the topic or product backlog item to be discussed. I teach participants to leverage the ELMO technique during backlog refinement. ELMO is an acronym for “Enough Let’s Move On” and it helps remind people to avoid boiling the ocean or rehashing the same thing over and over. Some teams even find it helpful to bring an Elmo doll to their meetings. I also recommend that the facilitator use a timer for backlog refinement, especially at the beginning. Generally, one backlog item should be “refinable” within 10 minutes.

As such, it cannot be confined to a single time-boxed meeting in each Sprint. Concrete descriptions of the expected behavior of the product as a result of the product backlog item using real-life data. Examples are useful for describing a solution and providing guidance on ways to validate it.

Once we had the notes in groups I asked the team to dot vote in order to indicate their preferences about things that should be included in our definition of ready. I got the opportunity to get a behind the scenes view of recorded music when I toured Zac Brown’s Southern Ground recording studio. During the tour, it occurred to me that recording music can be very similar to developing software products. The Product Backlog is essentially a project’s To-Do list, or requirements repository. All the items in a Product Backlog are deemed in scope for a project, regardless of level of detail.

Introduction to Product Backlog Refinement

Teams have found it useful to take a little time out of Sprint Execution — every Sprint — to help prepare the Product Backlog for the next Sprint Planning Meeting. A Scrum Professional needs to understand and practice Sprint Planning and Backlog Refinement differently to excel in his/her career. It requires a lot of Scrum knowledge and expertise to bring about success to the team as well as to the organisation. The prioritized products are set for a demo to collect feedback and seek scope for improvement.

What is done in a backlog grooming session?

Finally, you can get a potentially shippable product, ready to be deployed in the market. Product backlog refinement meeting is one of the core Scrum ceremonies where the team comes together to review and update each user story in the product backlog for the project. As a Business Analyst, you should always collaborate with development team to maintain a technical backlog which would consist of technical debt over a period of time. If you do so, you have a better chance of guiding the customer in certain cases to resolve dependency between two different backlog items. Another way is to visualize the product and guide development teams to create sprint goals which would lead to optimized increments. Focusing on the most urgent tasks first is essential to avoid wasting time during product development.

Success Principles of the Product Backlog Refinement

All the Scrum Events, including Product Backlog Refinment happen during the Sprint. A Sprint is the heart of Scrum, and is time-boxed period of one month or less, in which a “Done”, useable, and potentially releasable product Increment is created. Sprints have consistent durations throughout a development effort. A new Sprint starts immediately after the conclusion of the previous Sprint.

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