Software development

Top 8 Best Practices for Product Backlog Refinement

Because the backlog is always having items added to it, sometimes by upwards of 10 individuals in different positions, the backlog can get pretty loose. Backlog grooming agenda helps alleviate some of the messiness created by your product manager, project manager, developers, QA testers, or anyone else contributing . One thing is for sure that the Product Backlog Refinement meetings are not meant for chitchat or time pass. Neither should the sessions be for getting clarity on other inter-team issues. The scope and goals should be clear and concise- everyone should be on the same platform. The greatest motivation of engaging in backlog grooming is to help teams continuously push forward and increase overall productivity.

backlog grooming best practices

The session is often completed in preparation for an upcoming sprint. It’s best to schedule the meeting a few days prior to the next sprint, since the final days are often consumed completing work in the current sprint. Adhering to the best practices above can ensure that you get the most of backlog grooming meetings. 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.

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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. The scrum team further follows this sequence to select product backlog items during sprint planning or backlog grooming. While you want to foster cross-functional interaction, you must be careful not to introduce too many ideas and viewpoints. As a result, just invite those who are essential for the task at hand.

Involve the right people in your backlog grooming session so that every decision made is transparent and understood. In other words, backlog grooming is a lot like housekeeping; teams get rid of irrelevant items, add new ones, and update existing items with the latest information. Tell us in the comments the practices and tools you will be using in your next backlog refinement session. Task automation and approvals can help your team stay focused in the sprint meetings.

backlog grooming best practices

Grooming happens at defined intervals with meetings that last a minimum of 1 hour, typically only once per sprint. Grooming meetings should involve the whole team, but at the very least, product owners, team leads, and senior position members need to participate. This process is also known as backlog refinement or scrum refinement among scrum teams. Do note that there are no key differences between scrum backlog grooming and agile backlog grooming. Backlog grooming is a process where the team meets to review, refine, and prioritize backlog items.

Owner of Backlog Grooming Process

On the other hand, if you have too many stories on the backlog, it can be overwhelming for the team and lead to them feeling bogged down. Grooming your backlog at planned intervals, you keep the backlog aligned with the changing stakeholder priorities. It’s an intrinsic aspect of dealing with the fuzzy uncertainty of defining a new software system. It’s a granular approach used to specify the relative priority to other high priority items. You do that by assuming that #1 is more important than #2, which in its turn is more important than #3.

  • Discuss user stories with the team, answer any related questions to smooth out any ambiguity.
  • Then, do a preliminary prioritization of backlog items so you know what items to focus on in your meeting.
  • You also want to prioritize the remaining tickets, so the highest priority items get the most attention.
  • If you’re worried about not having quite enough time, we recommend using a meeting agenda template or simply assigning time slots to each user story, item or topic that needs to be discussed.
  • Many software development teams employ the agile project management methodology to review, track, and adjust priorities and tasks to reach their ultimate goal of a high-quality deliverable.

Explore the essential topics related to scrum sprinting and learn about how the process works. Address the high-priority tasks first, save less important tasks for the future. To avoid this whole fiasco, make sure you and your team are updating your backlog in real-time so that you can keep up-to-date.

Time Tracking & Timesheet

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. The Product Backlog is a live document requiring continuous updating based on the evolving project requirements throughout the development phase. Effective and Consistent Prioritization of the requirements leads to successful project completion. Leverage a grooming tool to improve the grooming process if necessary. Improve prioritization and collaboration by defining the dependencies between items.

backlog grooming best practices

I am a Certified Scrum Master and I also write my thoughts about product management at Ensure the delivery of the most important items, which should be on top of the backlog. Hire product development experts to bring your backlog refinement techniques ideas to life. To stick to an estimate, 45 minutes to a 1-hour time frame could be a good idea. Do not overstretch it to an extent where everyone feels exhausted and running out of time to complete the present sprint deliverables.

Also, if it is a meeting that takes typically about 1 hour, go in for a weekly session. If, you, however, choose to go in for shorter meetings- then repeat the regularity of the sessions. It is important to call only key Stakeholders or top representatives from each team. Agile advocate Roman Pichler came up with the acronym DEEP, which stands for detailed appropriately, estimated, emergent and prioritized. Writing new user stories, a process we outline in the post, Our Approach to Developing User Stories. Juan Carlos Brown is a Project Manager at Modus Create with a deep interest in bringing true agility to organizations.

Backlog refinement is an essential process

It sets the stage to help team members plan upcoming sprints to deliver product features quickly and efficiently. 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.

Adding an item to the backlog is a way to acknowledge its importance and ensure it gets completed during the sprint. The client should have a chance to weigh in before the meeting, too. Open communication keeps all stakeholders and team members involved and informed of project progress. Several key processes make up agile methodology, and one of them (the one we’re talking about today) is backlog grooming. 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.

Creating a tool to increase web development productivity at work: FixHTML

This will not only keep your backlog less disordered but also accelerate your backlog grooming sessions. A groomed backlog helps you not get overwhelmed by the number of incomplete tasks. It forces teams to deliver their product more rapidly and ensures the organization is moving forward on schedule. A well-groomed backlog reduces the time spent on planning sprints and increases the productivity of everyone involved in building the product. Following are a few things to consider when planning and running your product backlog refinement sessions. Things are constantly changing in the product world, and that includes changes to priorities and estimates.

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.

How do you get the most out of your session?

This will serve as a starting point that will benefit future sessions. Don’t be surprised if the team finds a new innovative way to solve a problem while trying to create the initial estimate. The quality assurance team has a place at these meetings, too. Since it’s their job to ensure that the completed product is up to standards, they need to be a part of the grooming process from start to finish.

To ensure that the product backlog is DEEP and stays that way, you have to groom or refine it regularly. Grooming the product backlog is an ongoing, collaborative process that involves the product owner and team. Below are some tips and best practices for running a successful backlog grooming session.

When hosting backlog grooming sessions, it’s vital to remember that this is a golden opportunity to bring the whole team together and ensure that everyone stays up to date. With Wrike, you can quickly and easily set up workflows that include a dedicated backlog folder. From there, all incoming tasks and requests will be funneled into the backlog, which you can easily prioritize and edit as needed during your backlog refinement sessions. Do not overstretch the backlog grooming sessions and convert them into sprint planning. The objective of the grooming sessions is to identify and eliminate waste, evaluate and prioritize new user stories, and clean and refine the product backlog.

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Backlog grooming must have a lodestar to follow and the guide is always the customer. Customers can be like a rule against which all else is measured. The product is being produced for customers and therefore customers are the destination to always keep in sight. It’s important to clearly state expectations upfront for what needs to be accomplished during the meeting and have a set agenda. This puts everyone in the same mindset, saves valuable time and keeps the meeting flowing smoothly.

This prevents waste that results from spending too much time breaking down backlog items that are irrelevant to an upcoming sprint. It also ensures the development team has all the detail they need to successfully complete the items in their next sprint. 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. Doing so helps your team go into sprint planning sessions fully equipped to be productive.

The Software Development process is dynamic- it goes on, it continues- it is not a one-time effort. Therefore, it is so very vital to go back and work on earlier ideas, time, and again. It is also important to keep amending and adjusting the ideas to suit the current requirements. This is why it is critical to follow Product Backlog Refinement best practices for productive and optimized effect.