Product Backlog Refinement Grooming in Agile

Let’s assume the backlog is refined and tasks are estimated in real numbers. The Product Owner sets the priorities and decides what needs to be completed at the end of the sprint, but the team decides how much they are actually able to finish within a sprint. The development team is responsible for actually doing the work and implementing tasks from the product backlog. They can ask questions about specific tasks or items on the backlog to gain a better understanding of what is required. Within the scrum framework is something called a product backlog. This is essentially a list of items or tasks that need to be added to produce the desired outcome.

Why the Product Backlog Refinement is Important

This process continues until the team finds a good collection of the user stories in the product backlog to be included in the sprint backlog. The purpose of the backlog refinement meeting is to decompose the highest priority items in the product backlog into user stories which are suitable for inclusion in the next sprint. A backlog is a list of tasks required to support a larger strategic plan. For example, a product development context contains a prioritized list of items.

But sometimes developers do not take a deep look into the backlog until the refinement meeting. Teams can end up using their precious time together trying to remember what the backlog items are and why they were added. Analyzing the estimated time each of the items will take to finish.

The product backlog in its simplest form is a list of improvements to be made to your product. But unlike Sprint Retrospectives or Sprint Planning meetings, which have a clear time and place in the agile process, there isn’t much guidance on how and when to do Backlog Refinement. As Scrum Team A-Tano discusses the benefits of refinement, a developer exclaims, “Of course! We know that every team has their own rhythm and backlog culture that they bring to the table. These recommendations should cross-cut all of those things and help your team work even better together, no matter your tools or process.

Refinement promotes team alignment

For me, boiling water is a task equal to 1 story point, baking a meringue cake would equal 8 story points, and making an omelette would be somewhere in between. What if someone asks how many minutes it will take to boil water? I wish I knew that; I’ve just bought a new kettle and have no idea! Sometimes the story requires using a completely new technology for a developer, and it is hard to guess the hourly effort. The team, and by extension the stakeholders, should have a much clearer understanding of what is being worked on, what is still pending, and what can be considered done.

During Sprint Planning, the team will take the items at the top of the Product Backlog and move them into the Sprint Backlog to be worked on during the upcoming Sprint. After a period of negotiation, the team should arrive at a rough estimate, which can be documented in the backlog. Sharing information and views in this way helps the team arrive at a more accurate estimate that everyone can agree on. This practice helps to ensure that everyone answers honestly and it prevents team members from anchoring their estimates on others. Other companies keep the product backlog, design backlog and bug backlog separate, to maintain clarity.

  • However, a refined Product Backlog is always manageable and makes it simpler and easier for the whole team to understand the Product Backlog items and efficiently contribute to product development.
  • Choosing a way of refining your backlog is about finding what works for your team.
  • It also distracts team members from their work, and it sometimes forces changes in the plan and priorities, because completing the story requires the work of the others.
  • Product Backlog Refinement is the act of adding detail, estimates, and order to items in the Product Backlog.
  • The team was stretched from Poland to the Pacific, so this synchronous call was one of only two hours they spent all together in a given week.
  • The outcome of the meeting is an ordered list of stories ready to be used in the next sprint planning.

Velocity is a measure of the amount of work a Team can tackle during a single Sprint and is the key metric in Scrum. Velocity is calculated at the end of the Sprint by totaling the Points for all fully completed User Stories. The Product Backlog Refinement meeting should be time-boxed – usually around 2-3 hours for a two-week Sprint.

Identifying and removing items that sounded good but are no longer relevant. Product Backlog Refinement is the act of adding detail, estimates, and order to items in the Product Backlog. During Product Backlog refinement, items are reviewed and revised. Refinement usually consumes no more than 10% of the capacity of the Development Team. The main agile scrum artifacts are product backlog, sprint backlog, and increments.

Product Backlog Refinement in Scrum | Importance of Backlog Refinement

Updating them on the project’s progress and getting their feedback on what they would like to see next is an important part of backlog refinement. Backlog grooming is the only ceremony in scrum that doesn’t have a defined time box or even a frequency. It is, however, a critical responsibility of the product owner with the help of their team to add new items to the list and order them based on their priority. The backlog refinement meeting usually takes place towards the end of the current sprint.

Product backlog should reflect the project vision and exclude any items that are no longer relevant or do not generate value. Product backlog refinement is one of those ceremonies that are integral to deep backlog the project’s success. 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.

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Why Is a Product Backlog Important?

The structure of Agile methodology is a series of meetings or processes. Here are three guidelines for when and how often to refine the backlog together. You’ll want to prioritise thinking about items near the top of the backlog, since they are most likely to be taken forward for the next Sprint. Inundated by work, the development team unanimously agreed that they should cancel their Backlog Refinement session so that they could catch up on their work. Everything is listed in priority order and inside each card are nested details. Assumptions that led them astray are identified and their origins explored.

Why the Product Backlog Refinement is Important

If the team is working a one-week sprint cycle, running a backlog refinement meeting every week is a recommended practice. On the other, if you are working on a two-week sprint cycle, running these meetings every alternate week should be considered. In fact, weekly product backlog refinement offers a more sustainable way of engaging with the backlog. It’s continuous, but it also allows your team space during the week for uninterrupted focus on current Sprint goals. Establishing a shared understanding of the product and its future is something that needs to be done regularly.

What is the outcome of backlog refinement?

Following Backlog Refinement and Sprint Planning, they are pulled off the ‘Backlog’ column and into the ‘To Do’ column for the next Sprint. Skipping refinement is really just about avoiding the inevitable; it defers an activity that, at some point, must be paid for. And the more items that are deferred, the more difficult it becomes to work through all of them. So, when you push refinement into the future, you’re almost ensuring that more time must be taken to do the same activity. You may also suffer the guilt of seeing that backlog over and over again and not having the time to get to it. When you go to the supermarket with your shopping list in hand you want to make sure the produce you’re buying is fresh.

Refined backlog items are a bit like all the pieces of track that are ready to lay down in front of the train to get you to the end destination. For people that are new to Agile or the Scrum framework, backlog refinement can pose a few problems. What is stepwise refinement with…How long should deep backlog a workout…Why session timeout is important? The goal of Product Backlog refinement is to work with the Scrum Team and stakeholders , to get Product Backlog items in a ‘ready state’. There are a few techniques for estimating backlog items, which can be easily found on blogs or in books.

What is the Product Backlog Grooming or Refinement im Scrum?

Failure to operate any events as prescribed results in lost opportunities to inspect and adapt. According to this sprint goal, the PO prioritizes the product backlog and selects the most important product backlog items or writes new ones. The term grooming has been discouraged since the word has bad connotations, but it is still widely used. Backlog refinement stands for the same thing, which is, keeping the backlog up to date and getting backlog items ready for upcoming sprints.

Backlog refinement looks at upcoming stories to discuss, estimate, and establish an initial understanding of acceptance criteria. Teams may apply Behavior-Driven Development, using and use specific examples to help clarify stories. The outcome of each sprint has to be a high-value product increment. Therefore, it is paramount to have 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. It’s important to have the officially scheduled meeting and run the backlog grooming regularly.

If your team consistently encounters stories/work items that are too large, this means that the team did not invest sufficient effort to refine the work items during Backlog Refinement. We find team-wide product backlog meetings laborious and generally unproductive. This list includes all the features, feature changes, user stories, bug fixes, non-functional requirements, enablers, and other activities that need to be acted upon. This represents the work the Product Owner believes needs to be completed in the upcoming sprints. Meanwhile, the activities for the current sprint should be placed in the Sprint Backlog. This may also lead to the Product Owner and Scrum Team re-assessing and negotiating the relative priority of the user stories as the Team refines them.

Visiting the backlog regularly to shape items during the Sprint

Check out the three most popular techniques, or dive into Mike Cohn’s book, Agile Estimating and Planning. You can also use your own creativity – as long as the items are sized according to one scale the team is familiar with. The main goal is to discuss what needs to be done and ensure the items are small enough so they can be completed during the sprint. A story point is a unit that measures the size of a story, not based on the amount of time but on the effort. To help you understand it better, let’s put an estimation on everyday activities. The idea was to put absolute time estimations to one side and to try to estimate the effort.

What is scrum framework?

This helps the team stay focused on what’s most important, and understand what to do next without having to check in with the project coordinator every time. Prioritizing the Product Backlog items after each Sprint Planning meeting and re-assessing the relative priority of stories. Sometimes the Project Manager or the Scrum Master can use this session to estimate stories and assign story points.

But if you only look at your backlog once per Sprint it’s going to be a hot mess. The collaborative conversation facilitated by the Product Owner which involves all stakeholders and the team. The Sprint Goal must be finalized prior to the end of Sprint Planning. Various practices exist to forecast progress, like burn-downs, burn-ups, or cumulative flows. While proven useful, these do not replace the importance of empiricism.

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