Best Practices for Grooming Your Product Backlog

Főoldal Design és Tech Best Practices for Grooming Your Product Backlog
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You’ve thought through all different user types, how changes would affect them, and ensured there are acceptance criteria to cover those requirements. The backlog helps you maintain focus on the core work while also providing a space to track new ideas that surface. Clients and team members can add ideas to the backlog whenever they arise without having to go through a formal process. A healthy backlog has new ideas coming in regularly from all levels of the organization.

backlog grooming best practices

Designed for colocated teams, the backlog refinement meeting can also work for distributed teams using tools like Planning Poker for JIRA and Hatjitsu. Backlog grooming is key as it significantly improves sprint planning. It makes sprint planning much easier because items loaded in the sprint backlog have been refined thoroughly. Sprint planning is the kickoff event of every new sprint or iteration.

Description — what’s the main objective of the product backlog item. Ultimately, the question of who attends Backlog Grooming sessions is dependent on the context and information you need. Client services or account managers, for instance, can shed valuable light on the client’s perspective. Depending on the item in question, the client themselves might want to be directly involved in the refinement activity.

Write and include user stories

These to-dos include — initially prioritized features, new feature requests, bug-fixtures to the developed features, and other activities. According to Net Solutions’ Agile Product Development report, 21.4% of the product development teams face challenges with backlog refinement. The product owner conducts a meeting with stakeholders and existing user stories are reviewed by the team to determine which ones may be removed from the backlog.

  • Eliminate user stories that add little or no value to the product.
  • 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.
  • User stories are often updated to provide clarity and new details.
  • The product backlog should be the single source of truth for the product requirements.
  • Kanban boards collect user stories and share them among the team, who can then update their progress anywhere and at any time to keep everyone working collaboratively.
  • You do that by assuming that #1 is more important than #2, which in its turn is more important than #3.
  • This is because this is a dynamic process and emerging ideas are required to keep the process continuous.

Effective and Consistent Prioritization of the requirements leads to successful project completion. Work on improving the accuracy of product release forecasts by creating a common denominator across many teams collaborating on one product. Iguratively to mean an accumulation of tasks to start or resume in the future. One backlog grooming best practices popular Product Backlog Refinement technique, which works equally well in a project context, is to define what a ‘Ready’ item looks like. Value – the item’s commercial value, as evaluated by the person in charge of the backlog refining process. Backlog grooming requires a guide, and the guide is always the customer.

When identifying the main workflow or happy path, separate the alternate flows into different user stories. Meetings can be an invaluable tool for developing a product roadmap — or they can unnecessarily interrupt workflow. To avoid disruption, it’s better to hold backlog meetings only as often as is necessary.

Who should be in Backlog Grooming Meeting?

Address the high-priority tasks first, save less important tasks for the future. With a well-groomed backlog, no one needs to ask another person what’s going on. Emergent- is for the new ideas that should be kept adding to the Product Backlog as and when the newer discoveries are being made. This is because this is a dynamic process and emerging ideas are required to keep the process continuous. 30% of the stories should be in a phase where there is enough information though detailing needs to be done. These stories are such that the product Developer should take up for immediate Refinement with the concerned people, following the 20% Product Backlog stories.

backlog grooming best practices

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.

Tips for effective backlog grooming meetings

That’s a lot of backlog grooming and project management software can help organize the changes and communicate them. ProjectManager is a cloud-based work and project management software that has the flexibility that scrum teams need for backlog refinement. Our kanban boards let teams manage their backlog and then collaborate in real time to plan sprints. Managers get transparency into their team’s process and can reallocate resources to avoid bottlenecks.

Backlog Grooming: Benefits, Tools & Best Practices – Forbes

Backlog Grooming: Benefits, Tools & Best Practices.

Posted: Wed, 12 Oct 2022 07:00:00 GMT [source]

Backlog grooming meetings provide an opportunity for your team to come together, choose relevant priorities for your end users and customers, then get your team ready to act on them. Pivotal TrackerPivotal Tracker offers a free plan for up to five employees and paid plans that start at $10 per month for six to 10 team members. The software shows a single view of all work to be done with clear insights into which team members are responsible for each item. The tool also helps teams break down work items—like user stories—into manageable chunks, then prioritize them so team members know what to tackle first. Keeping them at this length helps to ensure everyone stays focused on and enthusiastic about the meeting content. To keep your meetings within this parameter, limit the discussion of each item―user story, feature, bug or technical work, for example―to 15 minutes or less.

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A good backlog refinement session discusses only a small set of user stories. Therefore, there is no need to review the entire backlog every session as it is overly time-consuming and unnecessary. Instead, focus on stories expected to go into development within the next couple of sprints. Adhering to the best practices above can ensure that you get the most of backlog grooming meetings.

backlog grooming best practices

If a new idea is presented and you’re still heavily in the “I don’t understand” stage five minutes later, it’s a good sign the product owner needs to do more work offline. Trying to refine everything in one go denies you the advantages of perspective. Refinement is an iterative process that allows the understanding of an item to improve before it is taken into a sprint. 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.

Including the team in these meetings ensures that everyone stays on the same page. Even more importantly, it gives people with a diverse range of expertise a chance to offer input on user stories, which is the best way to truly refine them. Using this tool, backlog items can be arranged via a drag-and-drop interface onto boards in a card format. Cards allow team members to develop task checklists, tag team members for collaboration, assign tasks and mark due dates.

ProjectManager is a cloud-based project management software with features that help product managers with backlog grooming and more. Kanban boards collect user stories and share them among the team, who can then update their progress anywhere and at any time to keep everyone working collaboratively. It’s easy to transform a product backlog into a catch-all for ideas that never materialize. User stories without a clear purpose or definition make the product backlog harder to manage. De-prioritize user stories that you don’t plan to implement in the next 2-3 sprints. Eliminate user stories that add little or no value to the product.

Why is backlog grooming important?

The backlog might consist of product bugs, new features, technical debt, UI changes, etc. 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. This will not only make your backlog less congested, but it will also make your backlog grooming sessions faster.

Joel Bancroft-Connors is a Principal Consultant at Applied Frameworks and a Scrum Alliance Certified Team Coach®. Known to many as “The Gorilla Coach,” he offers more than 20 years of experience coaching teams and managing products at blue chip software companies. Space out your refinement into two or three sessions each sprint.

Items and activities which will not be implemented for some time should be described in greater detail. The goal of backlog refinement is to fill the backlog with activities that are relevant, well-documented, and prioritized in line with the demands of the customer and business. The process also helps you assess and highlight risks or blockers in your product/project management journey. Most importantly, backlog grooming helps you avoid scope creep and keeps you on track for completion. Have a ‘Definition of Ready’ prepared to help guide you and your teams towards deciding on backlog items that are fit enough for the sprint backlog. Refine your backlog items with as much information as you can to provide clear context to the team who will be taking on the work.

Tips for high-performing leaders

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When your backlog is looking clean and shiny, it’s going to help your product teamwork a lot faster and in a more focused manner. Productivity increases when your backlog is refined because the product owner, product manager and project manager need to spend less time on the backlog and more time planning sprints. A groomed backlog is going to support the company to keep moving forwards. Backlog grooming meetings are a recurring event for agile product development teams.

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. As the team discusses a backlog item, it’s crucial to identify any roadblocks that might impede progress. Depending on the type of issue, it may be advantageous to dedicate an entire, separate session to a roadblock or set of roadblocks. 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. It’s important for each sprint to have a well-defined purpose, and backlog items should be thoughtfully added to the sprint.

FAQs on Product Backlog Prioritization and Backlog Grooming

The product owner may have a general idea of what they want, but they haven’t fleshed out all the details yet. As such, it’s important to discuss each story with the team so that everyone is on the same page and knows what needs to be done. If the meeting is too long, stakeholders will start to get antsy and lose focus. This can lead to important details being missed, which can impact the development team’s ability to accurately estimate and deliver on the work.