What is Backlog Refinement Grooming?

As part of the backlog process, teams will usually estimate the size of the item. The estimation, if done properly, can serve as a good test for whether or not the team is aligned. The facilitator could be the Scrum Master or the Product Owner. However, I recommend that the Development Team members facilitate their backlog refinement discussions. It helps them to own the process of gathering the details, and it makes them more of a partner rather than a downstream customer of the requestor.

backlog refinement techniques

I find it helpful to make sure some level of work is done in advance of the PBR discussions with the full team. If a backlog item is just a placeholder sentence, then the team can often spin and spend a lot of time trying to understand what is meant. It is better if the Product Owner or requestor or even a business analyst or team member takes some time to document what the request is all about. Some people are critical of the use of the Definition of Ready. They worry that the definition of ready fosters a requirements phase or that a Scrum Team may push back to the Product Owner on taking on new items identified at Sprint Review or late in a sprint. If these types of things occur, they are easy to coach around.

#1 – Use a Definition of Ready

Before a sprint, the scrum team meets and discusses backlog refinement, which is why it’s often referred to as a backlog refinement meeting. It usually begins with the product owner showing the scrum team what product backlog items need refinement. This opens up a discussion between product backlog management techniques the product owner and the scrum team. They then decide which user stories are in need of product grooming. At a high level, backlog refinement involves rewriting backlog items to be more clear, deleting obsolete items, and breaking down large efforts into smaller ones.

backlog refinement techniques

In addition to providing clarity, backlog refinement helps prevent tickets from piling up in your product backlog. That’s why you should schedule backlog refinement as an ongoing process. Aim to refine your backlog once every sprint, during your sprint review and before your sprint planning meeting. 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.

Writing User Stories: Detailed Guide for Agile Teams (+ Templates)

Are Product Backlog techniques missing that you have observed? While the Scrum Guide 2020 dropped the previous guidance on time allocation, it remains a practical rule that the Scrum Team should reserve up to 10% of its time for Product Backlog refinement. Review the product back and make sure no work items have sat there longer than necessary so every item is of value.

  • Because this is a formula, everything needs to be quantified.
  • Create a graph using all items as nodes and with the dependencies arrows as edges.
  • The Definition of Done is also considered to be the exit criteria that each item needs to meet at the end of the Sprint.
  • When teams are just starting with agile or if they’re doing a sort of hybrid model, they’ll often have a deadline for a larger feature or a goal.
  • 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.
  • As a result, there would be little point in going through the process without consulting the team.
  • Don’t refine the backlog of the current sprint until it ends.

One of the key pillars of the Scrum framework is ‘transparency’. For managing the Product Backlog, this means that it should be visible for the Scrum Team and stakeholders what the order is and in what stage of readiness a particular item is. The image below shows an example of a Product Backlog Kanban board.

The value of refining your backlog

PlanItPoker — This tool is used for estimating the user stories. It also helps, if you are recording the results of your discussion in an online tool, to have one person entering information in the tool who is separate from the facilitator. And rotate both roles so that everyone on the team has a chance to experience it and will have empathy for those performing the role. When your team can’t complete an item until someone else completes an external item, that’s an activity dependency.

backlog refinement techniques

We’ll look at what it is, its importance, the details of how to do it, and some key tips. That way, your team won’t accidentally start a dependent task. Labeling your dependencies also allows your team to prioritize efficiently so that work flows smoothly, and you don’t have to worry about blockers getting in your way. When you’re prioritizing tasks, double to check to make sure that certain tickets aren’t dependent on others. A dependency is a task that relies on the completion of a different task.

What is Backlog Refinement?

The scrum master, who guides the process, is there to listen to feedback and offer guidance during the backlog refinement session. The purpose of backlog refinement is to have a product backlog ready for the next sprint. This is done by the scrum team having a https://www.globalcloudteam.com/ chance to ask questions of the product owner. Try these tips to make your product backlog refinement sessions more effective. Remember that user stories are all about the conversation; and, it’s in this meeting that most of these conversations are happening.

backlog refinement techniques

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. Refine your backlog with collaborative software that your entire team can access. Software like Asana keeps your sprint structured, clarifies owners and deadlines for every task, and makes important details easy to find. The resulting graph provides insights that enable the Scrum Team to eliminate dependencies.

Share with your network

Just take it to the team and address possible Product Backlog techniques. The Product Backlog refinement is a continuous process to create actionable Product Backlogs, enabling a Scrum Team to run Sprint Plannings at a moment’s notice. As a result, Product Backlog refinement is a critical success factor as it drastically increases the team’s capability to deliver valuable Increments regularly. Determine the order in which your backlog items should be executed and revisit their priority as you gain further details and insights. DEEP stands for detailed, emergent, estimated and prioritized.

This may speed the estimating process but it undermines group understanding and ownership, and teams don’t get the benefit of the wisdom of the whole group. The discussion is much more important than the final number! In fact, some agile experts advise that you ditch the numbers entirely and certainly don’t use them beyond the team. This pre-work need not be extensive, it just needs to capture some basic information about the request so that the actual discussion in PBR goes quicker.

Backlog Refinement (Backlog Grooming): How to Embed Best Practices

Besides, ‘refining’ is a much better description of the aim you are trying to achieve with this practice. For this reason, you also shouldn’t consider Backlog Refinement vs. Sprint planning as an either/or activity. Consistent, embedded use of Backlog Refinement techniques will make planning for Sprints easier.

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