Product Backlog and Sprint Backlog: A Quick Guide

what is backlog

Product backlog management is the most impactful work area for any product manager. Learn how to create a healthy backlog and apply a data-driven approach to prioritization. A backlog can be defined as a set of user stories that are not present in the current sprint that defines the project’s scope context. The stories which are left unattended may interfere with the functioning of the development team. When this happens, the status of user stories will not be clear, and even the team can lose focus and fail to deliver within the project completion date. Its purpose is to identify and track all tasks that need to be done to complete the project.

what is backlog

In practice, the Product Owner will introduce a backlog item and ask members of the development team to state their best estimate of how large or small the item is, using t-shirt sizes. The first example is framed in user-focused language which helps the team see the value of what they will build. It shows the precise role the the feature serves and what it enables them to do.

Why is it important when using Agile?

After the product backlog refinement meeting, the team can update the Product Backlog items in the line, based on the discussions held. Finally, you can get a potentially shippable product, ready to be deployed in the market. The scrum team is responsible for creating a product backlog in a refinement meeting. The development team has many responsibilities during this process.

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Developer efforts are better spent actually developing and backlog refinement tasks can introduce clashes, misaligned objectives, and other potential time sinks. While the concept of a product backlog is simple enough, it can door hangers are be unwieldy, as it’s composed of literally everything that must be completed to bring in a successful project. The weighting method provides flexibility for prioritization and aligns backlog items with the company’s strategy.

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Saving prioritization activities for the refinement meeting might be the safest way of ensuring everyone is aware of why items have moved up or down the backlog. This process helps to appropriately size items and assign them a value in terms of hours of work. Estimation is important because it helps teams make sure they are taking a reasonable amount of work on in each Sprint. By the same token, t-shirt sizing helps identify backlog items that are actually Epics and should be broken down into multiple backlog items. If your backlog items are in good enough shape, you might try out t-shirt sizing with your team. Let’s go through a few of the most common refinement activities so you can boost your arsenal of tactics and refine backlog items even better.

Once the team chooses the roadmap, the backlog serves as a source for specific development items. The tasks are most beneficial to achieving the objectives and goals of each theme. The product team may consider related backlog items for individual sprints and more significant epics. This product backlog shows project tasks and user stories, as well as their deadline, who’s assigned to complete them, their priority level and percent complete.

Split the Backlog Into Two Lists

In an Agile organization, product backlog items are typically written as user stories — though they don’t always need to be. They can also be written as traditional requirements documents, or in a number of other ways. Additionally, action items on a to-do list tend to be completed within a relatively short time frame. At the same time, the product backlog contains everything that needs to be done over multiple sprints and doesn’t prompt an immediate action.

These concepts also apply to scrum, kanban and other similar agile frameworks. In the beginning, both backlogs start as a high-level list of features. However, a sprint backlog usually is split into epics and user stories for easy execution, while the long-term backlog remains as it is. As a product manager, you decide which items should be moved from one list to the other, and when. It consists of sprint goals (the whys), the items on the list (the whats), the measures to implement the project roadmap, and the actual execution of the tasks.

Benefits of using a Backlog

There are many benefits to using backlogs for your projects and milestones. They help you keep track of all the work that needs to get done so there’s no confusion as to what should be completed by the end of your project. These are some of the questions we’ll be answering in this project management glossary article. Product Backlog items that can be Done by the Scrum Team within one Sprint are deemed ready for selection in a Sprint Planning event.

  • He’s a backlog nerd with the ambitious goal to bring Agile and lean principles into modern enterprise environments.
  • A well-managed backlog sketches out the strategic product plan and eliminates the uncertainty with mapped-out tasks, plans, and goals for the product’s future.
  • The term backlog is used to indicate the existing workload that exceeds the production capacity of a firm or department, often used in construction or manufacturing.
  • It helps to ensure that all necessary tasks are identified and tracked.
  • Your backlog needs to provide guidance to your teams, and their projects.

For the product owner, it will be easy to get a conclusion over the queries, by asking these questions in the early stages. Product Backlog Refinement is an important event in Scrum methodology that occurs regularly throughout the development cycle. During refinement, the team discusses each item, clarifies its requirements, and assesses its priority and complexity, leading to a more clearly defined and actionable backlog.

The sprint backlog helps reduce the workload and increase the team’s effectiveness by focusing only on the initiatives that can be completed during the sprint. For example, suppose a theme for a coming sprint is simplifying the checkout process. But for PMs to successfully bring products to market, their plans and goals translate into task-level details and where the backlog comes in. These backlogs are usually handled by a project owner in charge of a single team. Projects can be part of larger products managed by a product backlog. For example, an organization may deliver customer implementation projects as part of a larger product backlog.

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In between scheduled refinement meetings the Product Owner should be shaping and prioritising the backlog every day. Since the product backlog is aligned to the product roadmap, the Product Owner holds overall responsibility for the backlog. You can think of the product backlog as the product roadmap expressed in small increments of work. As a rule, your product backlog should be closely aligned to your product roadmap. But unlike other agile rituals, such as retrospectives and daily standups, teams have a lot of flexibility on how and when they do backlog refinement.

In short, the sprint backlog is the short-term plan for the team’s sprint. The product backlog is the long-term plan for the product, where the vision is itemized into concrete deliverable items that make the product more valuable. Ideally, this is true; the sprint backlog consists solely of items from the product backlog.

Sure, the product roadmap is the reference point for the overall vision of a development project. But zoom in a little closer, and you’ll see that the roadmap itself is made up of many smaller tasks. Once you have the first iteration of your roadmap, add and describe all items in the product backlog as derived from the roadmap. The product backlog contains the task-level details required to develop the product as outlined in the roadmap. When working on a project, teams often are working on an agreed-upon timeline and fixed scope.

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