September 23, 2021 | .

The adding, changing or removing of items will lead to new insights. That can mean removing outdated user stories and tasks, adding new user stories that come from newly discovered insights or breaking larger user stories into smaller ones. You might reorder the user stories on your backlog, or better describe them to avoid issues later. Assignments and estimates might change and you can identify and remove roadblocks if possible. A great way to avoid this is involving some members of the Development Team in backlog refinement.

backlog refinement agenda

Backlog grooming, also referred to as backlog refinement or story time, is a recurring event for agile product development teams. The primary purpose of a backlog grooming session is to ensure the next few sprints worth of user stories in the product backlog are prepared for sprint planning. Regular backlog grooming sessions also help ensure the right stories are prioritized and that the product backlog does not become a black hole. At the end of a backlog refinement session, you should have a prioritized list of user stories.

Exceeding Expectations Is Wasteful In Product Development

All the necessary people are present, so after they are done reviewing the increment, a Product Owner can gather feedback to update the backlog. This way the sprint backlog is ready even before the Sprint starts. 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. Savvy product owners rigorously groom their program’s product backlog, making it a reliable and sharable outline of the work items for a project. A team’sroadmapandrequirementsprovide the foundation for the product backlog.

backlog refinement agenda

Teams may decide to review their backlog activities at any point during the sprint. For some teams, it may make sense to do this at the start of each sprint to help with direction and goals for the project. For other teams, it may be more useful to refine the backlog mid-sprint when there is a lot of activity ongoing and developers want to ensure they are prioritizing the most important work.

Finally, the PO seals the deal with the stakeholders updating them of any changes and obtaining their approval. Developers can be stressed out if they believe these estimations to be their last call. The PO should explain to them that their allocations still can be modified after the meeting before adding them to the Sprint Backlog.

What Is Backlog Refinement?

That said, it is not advised to spend excessive amounts of time on these sessions. The general consensus around the ideal length for a backlog grooming session is between 45 minutes to 1 hour. The product owner is responsible for determining which backlog items should be completed in what order.

backlog refinement agenda

Every item in the backlog must be thoroughly explained with all the appropriate details. For instance, engineers tend to see problem-solving as a creative endeavor, and if there is no problem, they’ll often create one just so they can try to solve it! ” contribution can spark the team to add to or take away from the product. Document the decisions and key ideas and send them out as a follow-up to the team. It helps keep information in mind and access quickly whenever needed. Internal requirements change (stakeholders can have a change of heart or new perspective is brought up that affects some of the projects’ plans).

When To Run The Refinement Meeting

Though not an official meeting, this would also apply to backlog refinement. 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.

With the answers to those questions in mind, you can start looking at what the next few sprints might look like. Most likely, you’ll need to re-prioritize the backlog based on new findings and evolving needs. It’s wise to shift around priorities before the backlog grooming session rather than during it. However, some teams prefer to re-prioritize user stories in the backlog together so everyone can discuss why things are moving around. Backlog refinement sessions present an opportunity for product managers and product owners to explain the strategic purposes behind prioritized items in the backlog.

In the spirit of the Scrum Guide, daily sessions build a habit of continuous refinement. It may seem rather daunting to have a backlog refinement session every single day. Here’s a useful decision tree to give you some guidance on how often to meet with the team for backlog refinement discussions. A well-refined backlog The concept of Product Backlog Refinement makes the Sprint Planning process a lot easier because there are already well-defined items that can be pulled off the backlog to be built. Booster communication by adding detail to the preparation and implementation of the items still on your product backlogs, such as constraints, edge cases and acceptance criteria.

The discussion is much more important than the final number! In fact, some agile experts advise that you ditch the numbers entirely and certainly don’t use them beyond the team. I find it helpful to make sure some level of work is done in advance of the PBR discussions with the full team. If a backlog item is just a placeholder sentence, then the team can often spin and spend a lot of time trying to understand what is meant.

This capacity allocation takes into account both the needs of the team and the Agile Release Train . 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. Value — the business value of the item, as determined by the person who runs the backlog grooming process. Prioritized — The product backlog should be ordered with the most valuable items at the top and the least valuable at the bottom.

backlog refinement agenda

Your team members each have different areas of responsibility at work, and therefore they may have different views on each task in the backlog. Aligning with your team to refine the backlog ensures that important tasks are not accidentally deprioritized. It is easier to embed best practices in your agile teams when you have strong processes and clear oversight. One of the objectives of the Backlog Refinement session is to make sure that all the information needed to begin a task is in place, so the task is in a ready state to be progressed as quickly as possible. The best way to gather some of this information might be to loop in the relevant stakeholders.

Backlog Refinement Meetings

The product owner will define user stories to the best of their ability, but occasionally developers still require further explanation. The backlog grooming session gives the team an opportunity to ask questions and seek clarification about user stories to avoid any confusion. Backlog grooming is an ongoing activity undertaken by the product owner in collaboration with other key stakeholders. As such, the product manager, product owner, scrum master, developers, designers, QAs, and all other stakeholders are required to attend the grooming session.

  • Usually, there are up to three voting rounds for each user story.
  • This allows the team to have a ready supply of work to pull in at any given time should priorities shift, which they often do.
  • Do not wait too late to add details, because the delay will slow the team down.
  • If it happens on a Friday, then sprint planning might get pushed to Monday morning before a sprint starts.

These conversations can help improve alignment across the cross-functional team. These questions do not need to be fully resolved in a backlog refinement meeting. Rather, the product owner needs only to address them just enough so that the team feels confident that the story can be adequately discussed during the coming planning meeting. Following the user story refinement and estimation, the Scrum Team and Product Owner should begin prioritizing the user stories that will eventually fill the Sprint Backlog. The Scrum Team should provide feedback that will help determine the best order for accomplishing the sprint goal.

It leverages the insights from all team members to add necessary details to the backlog item. And it should involve a discussion with the product owner, customer or requestor so that the team can gather all the details about the requested item and why it is needed. That’s why it makes sense for many teams to classify product backlog refinement as another Sprint milestone. For one, having a dedicated meeting for refinement is a more familiar way of engaging with tasks.

Time For Backlog Refinement

Once sprint planning is complete, the sprint is ready to be kicked off. Refinement meetings help teams arrive at clearly-defined and prioritized blocks of work that can be taken forward into the next sprint. Relatively short sessions that occur after product grooming is complete, they happen right before the sprint meeting.

If they disagree on the size, or if there are outliers, this usually reveals differing assumptions about the item. 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.

The dev team reviews the prioritized items in the backlog before accepting them. They make necessary adjustments for clarity and estimate the effort and time it will take to complete each user story. Grooming the product backlog should be a collaborative effort that involves the product owner and the development team. This helps to analyse the data correctly and to draw the right conclusions.

The product owner may choose to deliver a complete epic first . Or, it may be more important to the program to test booking a discounted flight which requires stories from several epics . As we established earlier, the development team can run multiple product backlog meetings throughout the project lifetime, and even several within a single sprint. In this article, we will talk about what product backlog refinement implies, why it’s necessary for all Agile teams, and how to organize it in the best way possible. Insights backlog, and make sure each item is labeled correctly. This will not only keep your backlog less cluttered but also speed up your backlog grooming sessions.

The larger your organization, the more input it might receive. That can lead to a mess of backlog items without any rhyme or reason. You could look at backlog refinement as a means to a mutual understanding between the product owner and the scrum team. This understanding is focused on the product, of course, and what it will or won’t do. Then, you decide the amount of effort necessary to implement, as well as the order to do it. On the other hand, refining a product backlog, updating backlog items and estimates might seem like a luxurious activity one postpones until they’re free from other activities in the agile process.