What is Product Backlog Refinement in Scrum?

Healthy and energetic discussions are great but they need to lead somewhere. Stay focused and guide the conversation towards decision-making so that your ceremony has a clear outcome. Having Scrum Master attend the meeting would be great as they are specialists in Scrum ceremonies and will instantly spot when the conversation is not going anywhere. Internal requirements change (stakeholders can have a change of heart or new perspective is brought up that affects some of the projects’ plans).

Product Backlog Refinement

The best way to gather some of this information might be to loop in the relevant stakeholders. Expertise is an incredible resource; don’t lose out on the expertise of your stakeholders by keeping a narrow focus on the scrum team and the scrum team only. It may take some testing before you decide the best backlog item qualities deep backlog to monitor; you don’t necessarily have to use the ones envisioned by scrum rulebooks. With a product management platform, you can constantly tailor your unique criteria and attributes to measure, prioritize and categorize items. There will be different opinions about prioritizing and organizing the team during development.

Roman Pichler, the author of the book “Agile Product Management with Scrum,” used the acronym DEEP to summarize the essential traits of an effective product backlog. While executive stakeholders may want to oversee progress, they usually do not need to be present during grooming meetings. If you like to prepare, you can also use these questions to involve participants who are otherwise reluctant to speak their mind or who are less involved. Ask them to select a question and prepare the answer ahead of time.

How Do You Prioritize a Backlog?

Verify items are implemented to the satisfaction of the Product Owner team. The importance of refinement is underestimated by many teams, which is a pity since it has some nice advantages. During the product backlog refinement meeting, top items from the backlog are discussed, reviewed, and revised. You should hold this meeting once per sprint and it should happen near the end of the sprint to ensure that the backlog is ready for the next sprint. In a backlog grooming session, the team prioritizes the backlog of tasks to be discussed during sprint planning.

Product Backlog Refinement

This will not only keep your backlog less disordered but also accelerate your backlog grooming sessions. While a plan with stated goals is critical to intelligent backlog grooming, that doesn’t mean it has to stay https://globalcloudteam.com/ the same. The product owner must keep an open mind and listen to what others in their team say to make changes as required. Some people feel that grooming backlogs once a sprint is essential for productivity.

This agile refirement technique will help reconnect the leaders, business representatives, and subject matter experts with people who are much closer to the existing product’s challenge at hand. Organize people in small groups (2-4) and ask them to combine their lists in 6 minutes. Together they refine their lists, combine them into one document, and add new items. The team can adjust the length and frequency of the meeting, or even cancel them altogether, depending on what’s necessary at the moment. The best way to determine how often your team needs Product Backlog Refinements and how long the meetings should last is by gaining experience and making mistakes. The Scrum Guide goes on to say that up to 10% of the capacity of the Development Team may be used for backlog refinement.

The time-box of Product Backlog Refinement

Backlog, Backlog, Backlog… One of the key artifacts of Agile / Scrum is the idea of backlogs. Now it can be a Product Backlog at product level or a Sprint Backlog at sprint level. But it is one of the most used terms while working in an agile method. Don’t refine or polish the backlog of the current sprint until it ends, even if there is time left. You might feel tempted only to refine commitments to requirements right before they are due. That’s not a good idea, as that doesn’t leave room for potential gameplay that might increase or shift your product vision.

  • Unfortunately, many teams do not unlock the full potential of refinement.
  • The stories which are left unattended, may interfere with the functioning of the development team.
  • Your product team needs to agree on a standardized measure to assess the effort involved in each user story.
  • I’ll work with our team to determine whether or not we should remove this post to avoid any further confusion.
  • A well organized and categorized backlog will makes the jobs of both the product owner and engineering team infinitely easier for upcoming sprints.

The Definition of Ready represents all the things that a product backlog item must meet in order to be “Ready” to take into the Sprint. The DoR can serve as a checklist for the team to guide their Product Backlog Refinement process. Common items on the definition of ready include acceptance criteria discussed and understood by the team, user story statement , dependencies cleared, and subject matter expert identified. Most people are familiar with the concept of Definition of Done, sometimes abbreviated as DoD. The Definition of Done is a quality standard that represents all the things that a backlog item must meet to be considered “done” by the Scrum Team.

Scrum employs an iterative, incremental approach to optimize predictability and to control risk. Scrum engages groups of people who collectively have all the skills and expertise to do the work and share or acquire such skills as needed. Each element of the framework serves a specific purpose that is essential to the overall value and results realized with Scrum. Changing the core design or ideas of Scrum, leaving out elements, or not following the rules of Scrum, covers up problems and limits the benefits of Scrum, potentially even rendering it useless.

Scrum Team

The ScrumMaster is responsible for the events of a Sprint Planning meeting. Sprint Goals are discussed and team members come to a common conclusion. The date for the demo session and duration of time to conduct it is decided in the Sprint Meeting. Product Backlog Refinement takes the messy backlogs or seemingly chaotic list and cleans it up so that the backlog looks manageable, which would be easy to use by the Scrum Team.

Product Backlog Refinement

We also have a few spreadsheets that we’re using for master data – configuration data that does not change frequently, but it is necessary for the transaction processing we need to do. In order to make sure we’re using the most up to date version of that data, we’ve also placed those files under source control. We’re in the midst of our third sprint and we’ve already made some tweaks, rarely waiting for a retrospective to make those changes. We’re a little restricted in our board setup based on organizational standards, so multiple columns are mapped to a specific work item state.

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Product Backlog Refinement helps the Scrum Team to be updated and in keeping the current understanding of the product and objectives. Creating and reassessing the relative priority in the backlog list as per new needs. The product owner or manager is supposed to lead the meeting and make sure all decisions are in line with the overall product strategy.

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Once the team has prioritized their Product Backlog, they should start at the top of the list and work down. Prioritization only works if the team follows through on their commitments. Address the high-priority tasks first, save less important tasks for the future. Ensure upcoming stories are adequately defined by adding additional information and acceptance criteria.

The following 14 first principles describe in broad strokes the foundation of a successful approach to refinement.

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Instead, we have one board that shows the status of a Product Backlog Item from originally being created to getting all the way to done. So how should we plan to do Backlog Refinement or what are the best practices for it. Human memory is unreliable, so over some time, you’ll be glad to see documented proof of a good or bad decision and will be able to measure the touchpoints with which an idea has played out.

Product Backlog Refinement

Product Backlog Refinement isn’t an official Scrum Event, so there is no official time-box. The guideline for Product Backlog Refinement however is that it usually takes no more than 10% of the Development Teams’ capacity. To honor the first places where it was tried and proven, we recognize Individual Inc., Newspage, Fidelity Investments, and IDX . While implementing only parts of Scrum is possible, the result is not Scrum.

Break down broad user stories into smaller items

If a team’s already using Fibonacci numbers I don’t disuade them from that, but I don’t teach it this way to new teams because I find it an unnecessary distraction. Our own team tried both and found powers of two more representative due to the human tendency to underestimate large items. The prepared backlog list is discussed and estimated for the demo purpose in the Sprint Planning meeting. In the Backlog Refinement meeting, backlog products are estimated and discussed to prepare an approachable backlog list. Usually, Sprint Planning lasts a maximum of about four hours, but it could also be cut down to an hour also.

The consensus is that the ideal length for a backlog grooming session is between 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the team’s availability. In the Agile world, backlog grooming refers to the process of refining and prioritizing a list of tasks to ensure the product development team has enough work to pick up in the next sprint. Feel free to break the product backlog items during the meeting. For the product owner, it will be easy to get the conclusion over the queries, by asking these questions in the early stages. Representatives from the Agile Delivery Team – define the work and effort necessary to fulfill the completion of agreed upon product backlog items.

However, the Scrum Team together decides how and when to plan Refinement meetings. Optionally, the Scrum Team may also invite people outside the Scrum Team to Refinement, such as experts or stakeholders, in order to gain technical, business or domain advice. Product Backlog items that can be Done by the Scrum Team within one Sprint are deemed ready for selection in a Sprint Planning event. They usually acquire this degree of transparency after refining activities.

It’s the place where the product owner and the team collaborate to understand the requirements, estimate the product backlog items, and fill up the release. Refinement is time spent during the current sprint discussing and elaborating product backlog items so that they are ready for future sprints. Unfortunately, many teams do not unlock the full potential of refinement. Backlog items should be sliced, and a solution should be proposed, reviewed, and discussed.

Everyone wants to achieve their goals, but nothing gets done if you don’t take any action towards them. So, here’s a checklist that will help you track your progress and keep your backlog in check. Score your Product Backlog items based on how much they matter to your project and the people who benefit from it. Consider metrics like customer value, ROI , or interdependencies.

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