Backlog Grooming Best Practices You Need to Know

If input from others who are not needed at the meeting is required, then get that information before the meeting. “Detailed appropriately” means that higher priority items should have more detail than lower priority ones. Backlog items should be “estimated” to understand the cost to implement.

That way you can make more informed decisions about whether to add them to the list. On some occasions, user stories may be too complex to estimate. Nonetheless, you can still gather the team and work to build the best estimate possible based on what is known at that time. 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.

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. If you’re using an agile methodology, it wouldn’t be uncommon to see a project manager, scrum master or another team member take charge of an agile backlog grooming session as well. Backlog grooming meetings are a recurring event for agile product development teams.

Manage Session Time Well

Team members can clarify whether old backlogs should remain, then help to prioritize those that make the cut. Doing so removes clutter that can distract from accomplishing necessary work going forward. Stories are prioritized to show their immediate value to customers and prepare them for upcoming sprint planning sessions.

You need to constantly assess user satisfaction with particular features and use feedback to inform your backlog decisions. Satisfying your customers increases retention and is the foundation of product-led growth. Likewise, the product experiments you’ve been running can provide insights that you should use to inform your backlog refinement decisions.

backlog grooming best practices

In a product backlog, essential items are typically placed first to highlight the tasks that the team should prioritize. However, there is no standard rule for who runs these grooming sessions. Sometimes a scrum master or the product manager can also arrange and run the backlog grooming sessions based on availability. Ideally, all product team members should attend backlog grooming sessions to ensure a shared awareness of different perspectives. Scrum teams shouldn’t be larger than 9 people, so it’s easy to accommodate such a number in a meeting.

Have more than one sprint to work on

In this role, the product owner works closely with the scrum leader and naturally assumes the leadership role. Writing new user stories, a process we outline in the post, Our Approach to Developing User Stories. She currently serves as a business consultant, operations manager, and content strategist at Doubting Thomas Research Foundations’ Afghan Liberty Project, a small non-profit organization.

Different Approaches for Product Backlog Grooming –

Different Approaches for Product Backlog Grooming.

Posted: Wed, 08 May 2013 07:00:00 GMT [source]

In these meetings, product managers and product owners can easily explain the strategic purposes behind prioritized items in their backlog to help improve the alignment across groups. Do not be afraid of adding new relevant work items to a product backlog. Consider new user stories the result of a very productive refinement session. When adding new user stories to the backlog, be on the same page as your product owner. The objective of backlog refinement is not to reduce the number of user stories. One of the most important methodologies to make any interaction — including meetings and product backlog grooming sessions — more effective is to practice active listening.

Practice active listening during backlog sessions

The product owner reprioritizes user stories based on changes to the product roadmap. During a backlog grooming session, the team may discover steps or tasks that need to be done prior to starting work on a user story. Although backlog grooming mainly focuses on making sprints more effective, grooming meetings are also an excellent opportunity to check that all team members are on the same track. Make backlog refinement sessions more collaborative so that everyone on the product team has full knowledge of the agile project.

  • 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.
  • I started my career as a business analyst before moving into product management.
  • Having less than two sprints’ worth of work defeats the purpose of the grooming sessions because in practice it turns them into sprint planning meetings.
  • This data can be quantitative (e.g. statistical results from an A/B test) or qualitative (e.g. new feature requests from users).
  • The information may have been a high priority and pivotal to the outcome once but may hold little significance now.
  • If you are a product manager, the concept of the product backlog is surely not new.

Minimize the amount of time spent on meetings to maximize the amount of time team members have to do their jobs. Another way to help prioritize items is to categorize them into groups like user stories, bugs, feature requests, user insights, etc. Read below to learn all about the process, and get some tips to help your team structure better, more productive meetings. Some companies limit customer participation, but at Dialexa, the customer is a part of the team and we teach them the dance that is an agile project. 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. The goal here is for all attendees to leave the meeting with a clear understanding of what is left for project completion and the upcoming sprint goals.

What is product backlog grooming?

It reduces the time product managers and product owners spend planning sprints and increases the productivity of everyone involved in building the product. Productive backlog grooming is a crucial skill to learn for product managers and their teams. You’re always going to have a backlog, but it’s not always going to be clean and easily understood.

Arrange backlog items based on how ready they are for the sprint backlog and how much value they deliver to help with accurate prioritization. Successful sprint planning comes with a regulated backlog grooming meeting. Since sprint planning focuses on the items that have been logged in the sprint backlog, the need for backlog grooming is even more evident. During grooming meetings, your team looks at top items in the backlog to make sure each is sufficiently understood, and small enough to bring into a sprint.

backlog grooming best practices

Tools like HipTest also add a common web interface that both developers and stakeholders can use to see both Gherkin specifications and living documentation. Up-to-date, detailed, and well-categorized backlog items are easier to manage during the implementation process. Your backlog may also contain feature requests or specifications, bug reports, deep backlog or user insights. This time is enough to go through enough user stories for a couple of sprints ahead. The Product Owner or Product Manager act as the representative of the customer and the organization, and they have critical input into the creation of the backlog items. The grooming sessions should happen around the middle of the sprint.

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. Managing the backlog well is a crucial part of developing a project roadmap. It sets the stage to help team members plan upcoming sprints to deliver product features quickly and efficiently.

How to Write Software Requirements Specifications: Best Practices and SRS Tools

The second is that when the time comes to actually do work from the backlog, there will be so much uncertainty about what needs to be done that it will be very difficult to make progress. Have an agenda with goals clearly stated and make sure all assembled are aware of what those goals are and how they’re expected to contribute to achieving them. Know what must be done, and only meet maybe every two weeks for an hour or two. Also, you want to break down user stories that have gotten larger than they should be, which is called splitting.

backlog grooming best practices

This way, it’s easier to get a top-down view of task lists so that teams can spot where to refine things to create a better workflow. Tasks should be prioritized to reflect the order in which they should be completed and which offers the most customer or user value. Large user stories are split into smaller ones that can be addressed on a per-sprint basis and then reorganize points to reflect each work chunk’s complexity and effort. With LogRocket, you can understand the scope of the issues affecting your product and prioritize the changes that need to be made.

Categorize backlog items based on their impact on the user and product success

As a product owner, the backlog is your responsibility, so you might think that only you can do all of the backlog management activities. It’s okay to ask your development team to help you to describe the user stories, define the acceptance criteria, develop functional designs, and so on. Trying to do all of this yourself while also focusing on stakeholders, long-term vision, and business value can be too overwhelming.

Why is backlog grooming needed?

A product owner or manager must keep this in mind and treat everyone equally. Allow everyone to be heard and valued while keeping the team focused. The backlog is also an excellent opportunity to provide business updates.

More Frequent Product Improvements

For example, let’s say you have a set of features from the roadmap and you receive a requirement from the stakeholders to include another feature. Based on this change, the product owner needs to place additional stories in the backlog. At the same time, there might be another feature that previously appeared earlier in the prioritized list but now takes a back seat as per the updated product roadmap. 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. When done effectively, recurring backlog grooming sessions can keep your backlog in check and improve the organization of the items listed in it.

Agile is all about continuous improvement, which means that your product backlog is always evolving. It’s constantly changing, growing, and evolving as you plan and build. Agile Product Backlog Grooming, also known as product backlog refinement, is an activity that helps you to improve your product backlog continuously. Sometimes you might be asked to add something to the backlog that sounds like a good idea, but doesn’t really fit right now. So you might be tempted to create a separate backlog to hold items you don’t want to forget about.

Many people are using the backlog, and so when it’s updated that information is disseminated throughout the team. That means that everyone is on the same page, but it’s also a two-way street. The information teams receive gets feedback and the backlog also captures feedback from customers during live demos. However, sprint planning is important, and a better backlog will help plan for these more efficiently. That doesn’t mean the backlog is weighed down by details, it just needs to be ready for work. And unless you have a polished backlog, your mission guide will get you no further than the first page of your backlog.

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