Backlog Refinement Best Practices for Scrum Teams

Backlog Refinement Best Practices for Scrum Teams

Backlog Refinement Best Practices for Scrum Teams 150 150 Adrian Bourgeais

Traditional development breaks features into horizontal tasks that cannot be prioritized independently and lack business value from the customer’s perspective. The roles of the Product Owner, Scrum Master, and self-organizing team in backlog refinement. 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.

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.

The team may discover that there are far too many high priority stories for the next release. Rather than estimate all of the stories, the team can discuss with the Product Owner the possibility of moving some stories to a lower priority (“Could” or “Would”). The Product Owner adds detail to each “Must” and “Should” story, and the Epics containing those stories. There should be sufficient detail to enable the team to size the story. The Product Owner reviews the Product Vision with the team and they update the Product Vision, as needed.

When autocomplete results are available use up and down arrows to review and enter to select. Touch device users, explore by touch or with swipe gestures. These days the Scrum Community tends to call this as refinement . 10-Bigger items are decomposed into smaller items, items that are no longer valid are deleted from the backlog. A simple rule is not more than one hour a week of teams time,.

  • As new discoveries are made over time, include them in the backlog or its product risks becoming obsolete.
  • But it is one of the most used terms while working in an agile method.
  • Estimation is less important in Agile development than it is in traditional development.
  • For this reason, you also shouldn’t consider Backlog Refinement vs. Sprint planning as an either/or activity.

The fundamental unit of Scrum is a small team of people, a Scrum Team. The Scrum Team consists of one Scrum Master, one Product Owner, and Developers. Within a Scrum Team, there are no sub-teams or hierarchies.

Why Is a Product Backlog Important?

But once you’re racing towards the sprint deadline, solving unexpected bugs along the way, it’s quite easy to forget about the backlog entirely. It also means that everyone’s perspective is considered and that you have more eyes on the lookout for important issues. For example, the Product Owner often is often in a poor vantage point to see pieces of technical debt that are holding the team back and should be reflected in the backlog. A lot of noise enters debates about backlog refinement because of these differences.

Product Backlog Refinement Practices

Product backlog refinement is sometimes called product backlog grooming, and we will use those terms interchangeably in the article. Consider NOT managing the upstream work on a sprint-by-sprint basis. The team should strive to complete the work on their Scrum board every sprint, but the work items on the upstream board can follow a different cadence. Teams should make sure work items needed for an upcoming sprint are ready in time for that sprint, but that does not require refinement to follow a sprint cadence. Estimating product backlog items provides benefits beyond predicting when a project will be finished. A well-maintained product backlog might be the single biggest gift you can give to your users – and your sanity.

What is Product Backlog Refinement and What Should it Look Like for my Team?

Sometimes a subset of the team, in conjunction with the Product Owner and other stakeholders, will compose and split Product Backlog Items before involving the entire team in estimation. A sprint is a short period of time with a challenging agenda. The outcome of each sprint has to be a high-value product increment. Therefore, it is paramount to have deep backlog your priorities straight before the sprint starts because there will be no time to deal with any backlog issues once the development team gets to work. The whole project team has a part to play in this practice, as everyone has different expertise to bring to the table. The Project Lead and the Delivery Team should be actively involved in refinement.

Product Backlog Refinement Practices

Their primary focus is on the work of the Sprint to make the best possible progress toward these goals. The Scrum Team and its stakeholders are open about the work and the challenges. Scrum Team members respect each other to be capable, independent people, and are respected as such by the people with whom they work.

It is a cohesive unit of professionals focused on one objective at a time, the Product Goal. 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 Scrum Team members learn and explore the values as they work with the Scrum events and artifacts. When these values are embodied by the Scrum Team and the people they work with, the empirical Scrum pillars of transparency, inspection, and adaptation come to life building trust. The Scrum Team commits to achieving its goals and to supporting each other.

As new discoveries are made over time, include them in the backlog or its product risks becoming obsolete. The Interviewer asks questions that the audience would be expected to ask, like a general description of the product backlog item, expectations, limitations, etc. The Product Owner invites a “celebrity” (an end user, subject matter expert, Product Owner, etc.) to the backlog refinement. Someone on the team should be chosen as an “interviewer.” Agree within the team about who will document questions and answers.

change faster? To do more with less? To surpass your

The session is often completed in preparation for an upcoming sprint. So, for many teams, approximately every two to four weeks. 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. If you do decide to set up a recurring, regular Backlog Grooming meeting, the Scrum Master or Project Lead might direct the meeting. 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. If you don’t go through a process of project or product backlog refinement, you’ll waste time trying to make up for insufficient information.

Even an excel spreadsheet can give you more clarity over things like user stories. When you look at anything for too long, it’s easy to lose perspective. 🆕 The backlog always reflects the latest information when people are adding details to items as they emerge when items are added on an ongoing basis.

The Definition of Done creates transparency by providing everyone a shared understanding of what work was completed as part of the Increment. If a Product Backlog item does not meet the Definition of Done, it cannot be released or even presented at the Sprint Review. Instead, it returns to the Product Backlog for future consideration. The Scrum Team is small enough to remain nimble and large enough to complete significant work within a Sprint, typically 10 or fewer people. In general, we have found that smaller teams communicate better and are more productive. If Scrum Teams become too large, they should consider reorganizing into multiple cohesive Scrum Teams, each focused on the same product.

Use Issue Templates for Common Issue Types

When I work with teams struggling with their refinement, I suggest the practices above as a minimum. A team can take this further (and should!) by employing practices such as establishing WIP limits, managing and measuring flow, and implementing feedback loops. But in my experience, the practices above alone have delivered vast improvements for teams and their refinement processes. Begin to review your upstream board along with your downstream scrum board in your daily standup.

Understanding Agile Product Backlog and Product Roadmap – Appinventiv

Understanding Agile Product Backlog and Product Roadmap.

Posted: Thu, 30 Sep 2021 07:00:00 GMT [source]

When it comes down to it, backlog refinement can be a pretty controversial topic. For example, the first pass, can be a broad estimation technique, such as t-shirt sizing. If everyone agrees on the size and an item doesn’t need to be broken down further, you can proceed to sprint poker to arrive at a more precise estimate and have a more refined discussion.

stacks to streamline workflows, data capture, and transparency across the

Everything is listed in priority order and inside each card are nested details. Some days there won’t be anything to add, but others may have included items that are worth taking a look at or contributing to. I’ve checked open (and closed!) issues and made sure that the issue doesn’t already exist.

Product Backlog Refinement Practices

In order for the refinement process to be considered a success, the team needs to agree that the item has been refined to the extent that it is now actionable. As a result, there would be little point in going through the process without consulting the team. Get them involved, so that they can verify that items are being refined to the correct extent. The phrase ‘Backlog Grooming’ refers to exactly the same practice, but the term has fallen out of favor. Besides, ‘refining’ is a much better description of the aim you are trying to achieve with this practice.

Scrum Reference Card Excerpt: The Backlog Refinement Meeting

Larger Product Backlog items that need to be re-sized are split into smaller ones for tackling in the next Sprint or two. We use a template in our backlog to ensure that items are sufficiently detailed before being submitted. This helps us get some consistency in how backlog items are structured and makes the process of adding an item a bit easier for everyone. It’s important to have the officially scheduled meeting and run the backlog grooming regularly. This will eliminate or at least minimize the risks of building the wrong things, wasting time, and having to re-do the work.

Sprint Planning

It is the product owner who takes the lead in the meeting and while the discussion can often be lengthy it should never go beyond gaining more knowledge on the topic. These discussions should be documented for future use in other backlog grooming sessions. During the backlog refinement, the backlog is reprioritized, user stories are resized and refined in preparation for the next sprint. When breaking down backlog items, it is important to ensure that they can be finished within a sprint.

Since most customers don’t use most features of most products, it’s wise to split epics to deliver the most valuable stories first. While delivering lower-value features later is likely to involve some rework, rework is better than no work. If the Definition of Done for an increment is part of the standards of the organization, all Scrum Teams must follow it as a minimum. If it is not an organizational standard, the Scrum Team must create a Definition of Done appropriate for the product.

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