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Backlog Refinement Grooming for Product: Cheat Sheet

And despite that, it’s still one of the most crucial parts of the agile process. Some people may have additional knowledge about a specific type of problem or the code base that others don’t, which makes this a great opportunity to share information. What emerges is either an iterative discussion or agreement on the size of a project. Backlog items being discussed by the Parabol team directly in GitHub. Your conductor already knows where this high-speed train is going because he/she has the trusty product roadmap in hand and has already charted a course. Imagine for a second that your team is a super-fast bullet train.

Next, the details of each story is refined so that the intended results of that story are clearly understood. Weighted Shortest Job First is a product backlog prioritization approach that attempts to get you the biggest bang for your buck. Led by the Product Owner, the team will decide which tasks to take forward based on their priority level and estimated hours they take to complete.

These events are specifically designed to enable the transparency required. Failure to operate any events as prescribed results in lost opportunities to inspect and adapt. Events are used in Scrum to create regularity and to minimize the need for meetings not defined in Scrum. Ensuring that all Scrum events take place and are positive, productive, and kept within the timebox. These values give direction to the Scrum Team with regard to their work, actions, and behavior. The decisions that are made, the steps taken, and the way Scrum is used should reinforce these values, not diminish or undermine them.

The purpose of the Sprint Retrospective is to plan ways to increase quality and effectiveness. The purpose of the Daily Scrum is to inspect progress toward the Sprint Goal and adapt the Sprint Backlog as necessary, adjusting the upcoming planned work. For each selected Product Backlog item, the Developers plan the work necessary to create an Increment that meets the Definition of Done.

Top Backlog Refinement Techniques

Detailed Appropriately- this means that the detailing of ideas should be relevantly done. So, the item or the User Story that is high on priority should typically have more details than the Product Backlog items that are not so relevant at the moment. 20% of the Product Backlog items should be always almost ready for delivery. The entire purpose of going into detailing and discussing the Product Backlogs is to satisfy and engage your customer.

backlog refinement techniques

The remaining Product Backlog items are distributed among the developers. A Product Backlog item is jointly assigned a size and serves as a reference for the assignment of the remaining items. The process of grouping the remaining cards into the new list is repeated until the last card in the pile. A 20/20 vision of the order of the Product Backlog is created, which shows what is important to stakeholders.

Once a regular cadence of Refinement Meetings is underway, this will be less of a challenge, as everything will be pretty well managed. But this is another reason why establishing good, regular practices around Backlog Refinement is so important. In 15 minutes, make a short list of requirements while comparing the specs from small groups.

What are the Scrum Guidelines for backlog refinement?

You can think of the product backlog as the product roadmap expressed in small increments of work. As a rule, your product backlog should be closely aligned to your product roadmap. Joel Bancroft-Connors is a Principal Consultant at Applied Frameworks and a Scrum Alliance Certified Team Coach®.

backlog refinement techniques

Product backlog refinement is the process of shaping and prioritizing items on the product backlog. While backlog refinement is described in the Scrum Guide as an “ongoing activity,” it doesn’t occur spontaneously. Backlog refinement benefits from structure and cadence just like the scrum events . As I describe in my Sprint Cadence article, consistent cadence leads to greater focus and predictability, which in turn means more successful outcomes (i.e., realization of value). Refining the backlog saves time and money by ensuring that its items are ready for development at the right time.

Story Mapping

It is the single source of work undertaken by the Scrum Team. During the event, the Scrum Team and stakeholders review what was accomplished in the Sprint and what has changed in their environment. Based on this information, attendees collaborate on what to do next. The Product Backlog may also be adjusted to meet new opportunities. The Sprint Review is a working session and the Scrum Team should avoid limiting it to a presentation.

backlog refinement techniques

If it’s work for the development team, keep it in a single backlog. Johan Karlsson is an Agile coach and Senior Consultant who builds bridges between customers and product teams. With an engineering and development backlog refinement techniques background, he is responsible for Hansoft’s international customer base and Helix Swarm. He’s a backlog nerd with the ambitious goal to bring Agile and lean principles into modern enterprise environments.

Recommendations for Product Owners

It also ensures the development team has all the detail they need to successfully complete the items in their next sprint. Backlog refinement is a fundamental activity for any agile team. While not an official scrum event, the scrum guide recommends spending up to 10% of the teams time in backlog refinement. The reason for this is simple, backlog refinement sets your sprints up for success by building a shared understanding of the work across the team. The outcome of the backlog refinement is the Sprint Backlog or a list of items that are due by the end of the Sprint.

Talking about Sizing and Forecasting in Scrum –

Talking about Sizing and Forecasting in Scrum.

Posted: Thu, 04 Aug 2022 07:00:00 GMT [source]

Teams using this tool identify the most critical decisions they face, determine when they need to make those decisions, and figure out which information they need to best make those decisions. It’s a good practice to create a sales pitch that team members will read and want to attend. It’s then up to the facilitator to design and execute a meeting in such a way to live up to the hype! Here is a sample sales pitch you could include in your meeting invite.

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. However, if during Backlog Refinement additional questions or risks arise, the Scrum Team should assign action items to the Product Owner to clarify. Additionally, the Scrum Team and Product Owner may negotiate the creation of “spikes” (a time-boxed investigation) to resolve unknowns that hamper user story estimation.

What is the ideal outcome of a backlog grooming session?

We often talk about breaking down user stories into the smallest tasks, but the same idea can apply to prioritization frameworks. I knew the factors that mattered for our team were reaching the most users, and making the most of our limited resources as a small team. So, I settled on the RICE framework for backlog prioritization, pulled everything into a spreadsheet, and got to work. With backlog refinement your team have a chance to shape how you want to work. You can run a planning poker session by using cut out cards or by using Parabol’s free Sprint Poker tool that will guide you through every step of the process. The second example is completely disconnected from the user experience.

  • This prevents waste that results from spending too much time breaking down backlog items that are irrelevant to an upcoming sprint.
  • This is where the project manager, scrum master, or another facilitator can be incredibly helpful.
  • Additionally, you don’t want to be that Product Owner who gets a bucket full of questions during a sprint planning meeting.
  • By estimating backlog items, we have an understanding of the cost to implement them, which is must-have information for prioritization.

The most important items are shown at the top of the product backlog so the team knows what to deliver first. The development team doesn’t work through the backlog at theproduct owner’space and the product owner isn’t pushing work to the development team. Instead, the development team pulls work from the product backlog as there is capacity for it, either continually or by iteration . Everyone who attends a backlog grooming session should do some form of preparation ahead of time. This especially applies to product owners and product managers, whose failure to prepare can lead to frustratingly inefficient sessions. Product Backlog Refinement is key for an up-to-date Product Backlog that keeps Sprint Planning One short and focused.

Backlog refinement is an essential process

This helps to analyse the data correctly and to draw the right conclusions. It encourages collective ownership, and leverages the creativity of the entire team. It reduces the work load of the product owner, and helps ensure that the high-prirority items are ready . Backlog Refinement provides the first input to Sprint Planning. To start, it assures the Product Owner properly conveys the project / product objectives to the Scrum Team that will inform the sprint goal. Further, it ensures the Product Backlog remains populated with user stories that are relevant and detailed.

These discussions foster a culture of group prioritization ensuring everyone shares the same mindset on the program. Since the Teams in Space website is the first initiative in the roadmap, we’ll want to break down that initiative intoepics and user stories for each of those epics. While you want to encourage cross-functional collaboration, you need to ensure you don’t bring in too many ideas and opinions. So, only invite the people who are absolutely critical for the task at hand.

Do not refine your stories too far in advance, because the details might get stale. Depending on the delivery rate of your teams, you should be meeting once or twice a week to review the backlog. Detailed Appropriately — Upcoming, high-priority backlog items should have more detail than distant, low-priority items. This prevents waste that results from spending too much time breaking down backlog items that are irrelevant to an upcoming sprint.

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. Bancroft-Connors is also a Product Management Professional. On the extreme side, don’t let an unproductive conversation go on for more than five minutes. 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.

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