Backlog Grooming: Definition, Best Practices & Tools

“Prioritize” speaks to which item is most important and must be addressed before the others. These are on the top of the list, which backlog refinement techniques moves down to the lowest priority last. Backlog grooming is something that all agiledevelopment teams need to do regularly.

Make sure everyone on the team understands how they can contribute to the goals, so you get the most out of your meeting. It ensures a relevant connection between what the market expects from your product and what your organization actually plans to deliver. It helps make sure that the team is completing the most important work, which improves both team motivation (“My work is important!”) and the long-term sustainability of the business. Here are nine tips to consider for your next backlog refinement session. 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 attend backlog grooming sessions?

Back in the old days, someone would basically engrave a requirement specification document in stone before development. While goals are nice to have, you need to carry out specific actions to achieve them. You can use it to either evaluate if the backlog needs refinement or confirm that refinement is done for the moment.

When you have a product backlog that’s not been prioritized, it can be difficult to know what items should be worked on first. This can lead to frustration from the development team, as they may feel like they’re working on tasks that aren’t the most important. That way, the PO can inform them of tasks to expect in future Sprints and set for discussion stories you’re planning to include within two to three Sprints in the future. As we all know, backlog refinement is crucial in ensuring that your product backlog has everything it needs. When a product backlog is consistently updated during the sprint cycle, the team is more aware of what’s going on with the project. The clarity of your backlog will help keep morale high among development team members.

Once the team completes an item, remove it from the backlog. The backlog’s organization depends on the ability to prioritize tasks. With LogRocket, you can understand the scope of the issues affecting your product and prioritize the changes that need to be made. LogRocket simplifies workflows by allowing Engineering and Design teams to work from the same data as you, eliminating any confusion about what needs to be done. I am passionate about solving business problems by bringing the team together and removing impediments. I started my career as a business analyst before moving into product management.

Then, during your meetings, discuss each decision or idea against what the customer wants or needs. Doing so sets a strong foundation for successful sprints and product launches. Enthusiastic teams often throw lots of tasks into the to-do mix, creating unmanageable lists. Backlog grooming helps to surface the most needed and relevant user stories, then trim them down into manageable work chunks. They can also be placed onto project management boards, such as those offered by Trello, to clearly delineate the task lists at hand and, thereby, cut down on chaotic lists that overwhelm. Stories are prioritized to show their immediate value to customers and prepare them for upcoming sprint planning sessions.

Who owns the backlog grooming process?

So how often you schedule them depends on what makes sense for your team. Many employees feel like they already attend too many meetings, so make sure you’re not scheduling meetings just to have a meeting. The process of backlog grooming is usually directed by the product owner or product manager. They tend to lead the meetings and make sure everything goes well. Whoever that person who facilitates the backlog grooming is obviously in attendance.

  • We have found that educating and partnering with our clients in a transparent way is key to reducing surprises and increasing understanding of all involved.
  • If prioritizing customer satisfaction and delight is your goal, the Kano model is one of the most excellent options you would want to consider.
  • “Detailed appropriately” means that higher priority items should have more detail than lower priority ones.
  • You might feel tempted only to refine commitments to requirements right before they are due.
  • This is where the need to follow Product Backlog Refinement best practices is pertinent.

They’re automated and specifically designed to support agile teams during scrum refinements. If you’re already using Jira, then an app like Excel-like Issue Editor might be worth a try. Adding estimates or story points to give “weight” to tasks is an important key action when grooming your backlog. This information is critical in communicating the amount of effort or resources that a task will take up within the upcoming sprint. You can’t always estimate accurately but you can add a very realistic figure if your items are broken down into smaller units of work. Thorough backlog grooming will lead to accurate prioritization.

Organize your next backlog grooming session with Teamwork

It’s really important to listen to your team members during these meetings and to keep an open mind when it comes to anything product related, and adjust accordingly. There needs to be a precedent set amongst all parties involved to respect the differences in opinion and utilize the different skills and competencies of all individuals. At the end of the day, you’re all working towards creating the best product possible. As a way to prepare for your backlog grooming meeting, break down user stories into smaller tasks.

You must keep things flowing and ensure that discussions stick to the plan. To keep things moving, some teams elect to apply time limitations to each user narrative. This is when a project manager, scrum master, or another facilitator might come in handy. 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.

Whether you’re performing product backlog grooming or project backlog grooming, it’s good to keep in mind that your backlog shouldn’t be swamped with too many items. Especially if these items are derived from goals and strategies that are due to multiple sprints ahead. Product Backlog refinement meetings are an excellent opportunity to explore progress with the products being worked on by a cross-functional team.

Automate Quality Control and Productivity Factors

The description of the feature and acceptance criteria are not sufficient; the user story must also have all the relevant designs attached and technical details written by the tech lead. In this guide, we covered what a product owner should know before getting started with backlog grooming. Product managers often admit their feature backlog seems endless, but they sincerely want to create a product roadmap with the right features. Develop a common ground to align stakeholders and teams with implementing the most valuable user stories.

Using metrics to measure results is a smart grooming best practice. While team members may have differing opinions, nobody can argue with numbers. The product owner should explain the metrics that have occurred since the last meeting and then use them to update the backlog. For example, let’s say a user story describes the functionality to be implemented along with the acceptance criteria.

A product backlog is a prioritized central repository of all the to-dos for the product development team. These to-dos include — initially prioritized features, new feature requests, bug-fixtures to the developed features, and other activities. 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.

Who Should Be Involved in Backlog Refinement?

The Product Owner most likely schedules work sessions to refine the backlog. That means that you already have items in your backlog, but they might need some information or an update before they’re implemented. Also, some items might even need to be cut off from the backlog. Sometimes, the power lies in the details, and with backlog management, that couldn’t be truer.

But if Backlog Refinement doesn’t become embedded, it can soon fall by the wayside. And when that happens, just watch the backlog become a free-for-all wishlist, full of undefined and unconnected items that lack rhyme or reason. Add items for upcoming work or new initiatives to the backlog and groom them accordingly. Enrich prioritized items with adequate information to provide clarity and context. Gather and display the requirements and acceptance criteria for items with high priority. Excel is suitable for companies that are slowly maturing digitally.

How to run a successful backlog grooming session: Tips and best practices

It accumulates a shared, comprehensive understanding of requirements among the dev team reducing the level of unplanned rework. Here are useful tips for Product Owners functioning as facilitators of the backlog refinement meeting. This means that they can be realistically “Done” within the Sprint time-box.

Estimated- Backlog items should be “estimated” to understand the work, time, and cost required to implement. Backlog items at the top should comprise a precise estimation. In contrast, items down the backlog should only be roughly estimated.

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As long as your product has life and value to your customers, development on that product will never be complete. So your product backlog will continually grow larger and smaller over time. Last but certainly not least, is that you need to foster strong communication in order to have an effective backlog grooming meeting.

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. As such, their voices must be front and center in all backlog grooming meetings. So, before you meet, make sure you understand your customers’ or end users’ wants and needs.

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