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What is backlog grooming aka backlog refinement? LogRocket Blog

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. In fact, it takes strategic, deliberate thinking to maintain a well-managed backlog, through a process called Backlog Refinement . It also takes commitment, as refining the backlog is not a one-off task.

backlog grooming best practices

A good way to do that is to put it in a visible place near the team on a wall or a whiteboard. For example, the Lucidspark backlog planning template is cloud-based and can be accessed by team members and stakeholders at any time no matter where they are located. In addition, a digital backlog promotes collaboration as teams and stakeholders can meet virtually and work on the same documents in real time. Making the product backlog visible is important so everybody involved knows what is being worked on and what still needs to be done. If you come from a more traditional product development environment, you might think that you need to create a “complete” backlog that includes the entire scope and requirements. But in an agile environment, you focus on delivering value, not on delivering a finished product.

Agile advocate Roman Pichler came up with the acronym DEEP, which stands for detailed appropriately, estimated, emergent and prioritized. Taking your entire team’s advice can be disruptive – it’s often better to involve those most informed and experienced in the matter. Once the team has prioritized their Product Backlog, they should start at the top of the list and work down. Prioritization only works if the team follows through on their commitments.

Deliver your projectson time and under budget

Do not overstretch it to an extent where everyone feels exhausted and running out of time to complete the present sprint deliverables. The sprint backlog contains all the works which the team is committed to complete, either right away or as a part of the sprint (usually a one- to four-week period). You prioritize each and every item relative to all other items, simplifying the process and making it more transparent. This is usually a more specific and easier way to prioritize than to provide absolute values (such as “very high priority”). At the end of the activity, the team is set to have a prioritized list of new ideas.

  • According to Net Solutions’ Agile Product Development report, 21.4% of the product development teams face challenges with backlog refinement.
  • Our kanban boards let teams manage their backlog and then collaborate in real time to plan sprints.
  • But, if you are trying to ascertain how much time an item is going to take to execute, the team members who will be working on the task are often best placed to make that estimate.
  • The technique is very well known in project management for scoping projects and prioritizing stakeholder requirements, and can also be used for user story grooming.
  • Prioritizing the backlog items regularly helps deliver the best value to the customers and deal with the items which need to be deployed most urgently.
  • Regular backlog refinement is important because it keeps the lines of communication open to your teams and stakeholders.

For example, the Scrum Master may be better prepared to help the team break the user stories down into smaller ones or estimate story points. Prioritized — The product backlog should be ordered with the most valuable items at the top and the least valuable at the bottom. Every single backlog item is ranked in relation to its business value and alignment with the strategic goal of the company. As you capture new user insights, the backlog will be changed to adapt to customer needs. Depending on how big your organization is and your company structure, your backlog can receive input from several different teams and departments. Left unattended, this could lead to a messy backlog with a lack of cohesive qualities across backlog items and an overwhelming number of outdated items.

Why do we do product backlog grooming for the next sprint in the middle of the current sprint?

Many employees feel like they already attend too many meetings, so make sure you’re not scheduling meetings just to have a meeting. The meeting should leave the team feeling familiar with the product backlog and with a clear understanding of the goals for the next sprint. At the end of each sprint, we do a sprint planning meeting to verify there are no major changes to the backlog and decide the expected content for the next sprint.

backlog grooming best practices

Backlog grooming allows the manager to ensure appropriate items on their backlog list and listed in order of priority. Here are some handy tips or best practices required to maintain a healthy backlog. Have a solid of what you want to achieve and make sure everyone is aware of it. Make sure everyone on the team understands how they can contribute to the goals, so you get the most out of your meeting. Shorter user stories make your backlog more manageable and easier for developers to implement the required features.

benefits of a backlog grooming session

Ensure to consult with the stakeholders regularly and keep their interests in mind. We understand that.This is precisely why we made a podcast on the topic. Mitul Makadia, CEO & Founder of Maruti Techlabs, talks to Bikshita Bhattacharyya about his Agile implementation, strategy, and process during the nascent stages of the company. Sign up to get the latest Lucidspark updates and tips delivered to your inbox once a month. The acronym D.E.E.P., coined by long-time Agile advocate Roman Pichler, is commonly used to describe the ideal, well-managed backlog.

Stakeholders from other departments probably won’t understand vague descriptions or technical jargon. You’ll also want to look at the key metrics up to this point and be ready to talk about any changes or discrepancies that have occurred recently. Categorization of features depends upon how customers react to the offered functionality. The satisfaction that resonates with client enjoyment product features depends on the level of functionality provided. If prioritizing customer satisfaction and delight is your goal, the Kano model is one of the most excellent options you would want to consider.

backlog grooming best practices

First and foremost, you want to make sure tickets at the top of the backlog are fully fleshed out and ready to be put into the next sprint. Have the team think through unknowns and any technical questions and assign needed research to appropriate team members. Week by week, tickets will become more defined, which may lead to additional tickets or supporting work. You also want to prioritize the remaining tickets, so the highest priority items get the most attention. Although you could spend hours discussing backlog items, we’d suggest capping your refinement meeting at 1 hour. Using this time frame is going to motivate you and the development teams to stay focused and keep the conversation on track.

How should a product manager prepare for backlog grooming?

Either way, the goal is to identify how to build the right product that fits within the scope of the product roadmap and vision. While it’s important to have a vision, the initial product backlog is little more than a list of assumptions that must be validated and refined using feedback from customers and users. The technique is very well known in project management for scoping projects and prioritizing stakeholder requirements, and can also be used for user story grooming. Collect user feedback to prepare for grooming sessions with Userpilot.When collecting feedback, focus on identifying the friction points.

If they know what they want to achieve, it is easier to identify the best ways to achieve the goal. However, if the product team is very large and consists of sub-teams, it may be necessary only for representatives of each group to attend the meeting. Backlog refinement meetings normally last 45 minutes to an hour. Backlog refinement improves Sprint planning productivity and improves work velocity. It’s also beneficial to invite members from customer success, support, and QA, as they have valuable user insights related to the inputs in the backlog. Whoever is running the meeting should prepare beforehand by looking through the backlog and choosing which items to look at.

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. In the Agile world, backlog grooming refers to the process of refining and prioritizing a list of tasks to ensure the product development team has enough work to pick up in the next sprint. Some may refer to it as backlog refinement, backlog management, or story time. No matter the name, it can either be a recurring meeting or ongoing activity that helps development teams prioritize the right stories and avoid chaos and confusion. 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.

backlog grooming best practices

Review and update your estimates when new requirements show up or when you gain a better understanding of expectations. Backlog grooming is something that all agiledevelopment teams need to do regularly. Scrum teams work in sprints, which are short, time-boxed periods in which they accomplish a small chunk of a larger project. After your meeting, make sure prioritized backlog work is actionable by communicating the next steps and providing clarity to your team. First, send follow-up notes clarifying and documenting important decisions surrounding your backlog. Also, reach out to team members to answer questions that went unanswered during your meeting.

Who should attend a product backlog refinement session?

A product manager is standing at the intersection of product and strategy. So, they must regularly interact with the internal stakeholders and external stakeholders to understand everything thoroughly. This can be a major step toward making product backlog sessions a success. The purpose of backlog grooming is to ensure that the product manager is having an updated product backlog list in place.

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Backlog grooming helps your entire team to stay on the same page and ensure that all team members can work efficiently without any confusion or interruptions. If you are a product manager, the concept of the product backlog is surely not new. For example, let’s say a user story describes the functionality to be implemented along with the acceptance criteria. The description of the feature and acceptance criteria are not sufficient; deep backlog the user story must also have all the relevant designs attached and technical details written by the tech lead. Working on the backlog can get confusing and unproductive with too many people involved, so resist the urge to invite every team member to keep the session on track. Net Solutions is a strategic design & build consultancy that unites creative design thinking with agile software development under one expert roof.

Best practices for backlog grooming

A successful backlog refinement session needs the participation of the key stakeholder representatives, the Scrum Master or a Project Manager, and the developers who build and test the product. The Product Manager or Product Owner leads the grooming sessions and encourages all team members to participate. Value — the business value of the item, as determined by the person who runs the backlog grooming process. The individual who leads the meeting — product manager, product owner, or someone else. Nothing gets developed until it is in the queue, but having something on the backlog does not mean it will be done. The backlog refining product process guarantees that only the most important tasks of your teams are scheduled for completion in the next sprint.

This backlog includes the full set of user stories that aren’t in the current sprint that define the remainder of the project’s scope. 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. Even then, it might seem like you’re squeezing a lot of work into a short block of time, but if you’re properly prepared you can easily have effective sessions. Backlog grooming is a way to cut out inefficiencies and work more productively.

The Tools Required to Groom Backlogs

It is easy and quick to complete and defines the priorities of features that are in progress. In a product backlog, the high urgency, smaller and well-defined tasks are placed at the top, while the low priority, larger, and vaguely defined tasks are placed somewhere down the list. The final step is actually pulling the backlog items into the new sprint and verifying that each of them is clear, feasible, and testable from a development standpoint.

Finally, look at the data that you are getting from your users, and not just their feedback. Your users may be saying one thing, but their behavioral data could be telling a completely different story. The developers and testers do the actual work, so their input is also invaluable. For example, they are in the best position to estimate how much effort it will take to deal with a backlog item. Backlog refinement has a more long-term role and its aim is to ensure that the work of the team is aligned with the wider product strategy. Regular grooming keeps the backlog organized, and helps to ensure the most urgent and valuable stories are developed first.

Splitting user stories to fit the scope of the upcoming Sprint. How do you prepare for this event and which techniques can facilitate effective discussions within the team? Sync up with your team and any other relevant counterparts or execs to get their feedback and adjust accordingly. It’s just as important to keep the conversation going with your customers or any other external stakeholders to get their feedback, too. ResourcesBlogLeadership, productivity, and meeting insights to fast-track your way to being a great leader. Remote MeetingsTransform remote meetings into productive work sessions through collaborative agendas and time-saving templates.

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