This will help cut wasted time and keep your meetings nice and short, allowing you to spend more time getting work done. Now that we’ve discussed what backlog grooming sessions are and what takes place within them, here are our top tricks and tricks for getting the most out of those sessions. Remember that this is a product owner’s role in gathering feedback for development teams and helping them ask questions about prioritization. It is easier to embed best practices in your agile teams when you have strong processes and clear oversight.

backlog grooming best practices

The most important reason to do backlog grooming is to help your team move forward. Productivity increases when you appropriately groom the backlog. Backlog grooming also helps to identify the most critical features of your product. The goal is to create a product backlog with the right balance of work-in-progress items and those you can schedule for later.

Keeps the backlog clean and relevant

The information teams receive gets feedback and the backlog also captures feedback from customers during live demos. At Dialexa, we normally hold the backlog grooming meeting 3–4 days after the start of a sprint , and the meeting typically follows a demo of the prior sprint’s deliverables. As the project status is then fresh on participants’ minds, the client is familiar with recent project progress and gaps prior to discussing the backlog. As more information comes in, you should expect to update it with items and stories being added, removed and reprioritized.

Your backlog grooming serves as a consistent reassessment of the priority of user stories. Your estimates are also going to change, and these too need to be reflected in the backlog. Sometimes, when we know we have more time, the conversation can deviate from its initial purpose. If you’re worried about not having quite enough time, we recommend using a meeting agenda template or simply assigning time slots to each user story, item or topic that needs to be discussed. The facilitator, which is usually your product manager or project manager will dedicate the time and attention required for each piece of the puzzle. When teams do it effectively, they keep the backlog in check and make projects proceed that much more efficiently.

  • Backlog grooming, also known as backlog refinement or backlog management, is an effective project management technique.
  • 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.
  • Backlog grooming is key as it significantly improves sprint planning.
  • To keep the sessions running well, too many people aren’t a part of the meetings.
  • Agile advocate Roman Pichler came up with the acronym DEEP, which stands for detailed appropriately, estimated, emergent and prioritized.
  • The remaining items are prioritized in order of importance and based on customer value.

This helps the team to stay on track and to monitor progress. Backlog grooming should be done before sprint planning because it basically helps you groom your product/project backlog into a sprint backlog. Once you’ve prioritized your issues accurately and escalated important ones to the sprint backlog, you need to review them once again with your team. Although this is not always necessary, it is actually a good practice to have the input and feedback of your team members to improve prioritization in upcoming sessions. There’s no better way to prepare for your backlog grooming meeting than to take a look at your key metrics or OKRs. Monitor your key metrics to see if your items are prioritized accordingly and to notice if there have been any significant changes.

Step-by-Step Guide on Grooming the Backlog

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Make sure to update your backlog regularly as you reassess your priorities and grow your product. Is committed to building world-class products, and empowering world-class product builders on our platform. If creating a backlog is like writing a to-do list, then grooming is like reviewing, editing, and rearranging it. From small business to global enterprise, there’s an Airtable plan that’s just right for you.

backlog grooming best practices

With particularly large delivery teams, it may not be feasible to invite everyone. In this case, it’s best to bring in representatives from individual divisions of the delivery team. In this role, the product owner works closely with the scrum leader and naturally assumes the leadership role. 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.

The Typical Career Path of a Scrum Master

This is yet to include new requirements that come up during product testing or user stories. Teams that resort to adding last-minute work to an ongoing sprint end up with scope creep, which isn’t an ideal situation. In other words, not all tasks should be completed in the immediate sprints. Some should be kept in view until circumstances are favorable. For this, it is necessary to get inputs from various team members and to look at things from all viewpoints.

Most sprints last from a few days to a few weeks at intervals of an hour per session. The agile management method focuses on rapid and early implementation, frequent reassessment & adaptive planning, continuous improvement, and flexible response to change. Agile project management promotes collaboration, adaptability, and individual accountability. One of the most important functions in the world of product management is maintaining the product backlog.

Refining and reprioritizing previously written user stories and breaking them down into smaller stories, if needed. This approach provides a solid structure that keeps meetings — and more importantly, the backlog — consistent and easy to follow. Keep in mind that while you do want full cross-functional team representation, “too many cooks spoil the broth,” as the old saying goes. In other words, too many ideas and opinions can weigh down the session, so be careful to only invite those who are critical to the task at hand. Cassie is a deputy editor, collaborating with teams around the world while living in the beautiful hills of Kentucky. She is passionate about economic development and is on the board of two non-profit organizations seeking to revitalize her former railroad town.

Prioritization of Most-needed User Stories

Usually, these updates are made during meetings with relevant stakeholders. The product owner will lead the meeting and have everyone look over the existing user stories in order to decide which of them can be taken off the backlog list. User stories can be added at this time, as well, or user stories are split to make them more manageable. For example, the team might break larger backlog items into smaller tasks, like separating email management from responding to instant messages.

backlog grooming best practices

Items in the backlog have priorities that show their importance to the project and the customer. Teams can deliver high-quality customer service by completing the highest priority and most valuable backlog items as quickly as possible. The roadmap indicates how your product/project is expected to grow over time. So, what’s the point of having a product/project roadmap if you’re not going to use it as your guide?

What Is a Backlog Grooming Meeting?

Instead, the goal should be to refine the list and keep the backlog filled with relevant PBIs. The product backlog should be the single source of truth for the product requirements. If it’s not in the backlog, the team shouldn’t be working on it.

Looking more extensively into the total backlog to enable long-range technical and project planning. Writing new user stories, a process we outline in the post, Our Approach to Developing User Stories. Save judgment and questions for after someone finishes saying their piece.

Time for backlog refinement

So you might be tempted to create a separate backlog to hold items you don’t want to forget about. But if the idea is important enough and will really add value, it will come up again—you can add it to the backlog later. Trying to keep a backup backlog creates too much overhead and can make it messy and difficult to sort through later. Since it’s an important process and shouldn’t be skipped, it helps to schedule the meeting on a regular cadence.

What is backlog grooming?

It also ensures that you have a prioritized list of work to tackle next. The process also helps ensure that all features in your product backlog are aligned with the strategic goals for your company, team, or project. If there are business stakeholders you need input from, gather it ahead of time or limit their attendance to one or two members.

A variety of people contribute to the product backlog, so it allows everyone to contribute. This process gives everyone on the product team confidence and clarity about what’s coming up and what they need to do next. For example, a product manager might want input from engineering if they’re trying to decide between two features. To be the best in your industry in 2023, you need robust insights to inform your business decisions, meet customer demand, and drive growth.

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. This question depends on if you run an agile or scrum methodology. Typically, the product manager or the product owner would run and lead a backlog grooming meeting agenda and ensure they are executed successfully. One of the best ways to minimize meeting time is to structure meetings so that there is more than one sprint to work on per meeting.

Splitting a user story identifies the different pieces and then creates new stories to cover those. That way, your team will be able to deliver what has been promised while also planning for future work. There are many backlog grooming activities as the breadth of your product expands. You may find that some of these roles will need help from someone else on their team regarding backlog grooming. Backlog grooming also helps you manage expectations with stakeholders about what will be delivered and when.