Backlog Grooming Best Practices You Need to Know

If you need input from the development team, do it ahead of the meeting, immediately after, or again include just one or two people with the right skills. This process is also known as backlog refinement or scrum refinement among scrum teams. Do note that there are no key differences between scrum backlog grooming and agile backlog grooming. If your team is focused on product development, then you will be building a product backlog, but if project management is more up your alley, then you need a project backlog. A backlog is a prioritized list of items that agile teams need to work on in each sprint to meet business goals.

  • It should be a fast-flowing river where new ideas turn into completed work, not a swamp where idle ideas sit and slowly decay.
  • While they do need to stick to a pre-set list of tasks and objectives, there’s still some wiggle room for personalization.
  • Regular refinement sessions are imperative for keeping the backlog from stalling.
  • Your refinement sessions serve as a way to take that messy-looking list and create a manageable list of tasks that the team can refer to in order to prioritize their tasks appropriately.
  • Now that you know more about backlog grooming, it’s time to check if your current tool stack makes backlog management easier.
  • Make sure they don’t come back later as surprises for developers or customers.

It’s also a great way to help gather feedback from your team to get additional opinions and points-of-view that you may not have gotten otherwise. Backlog grooming is an essential task for any team that wants to improve its products. User stories or activities may not be able to begin until another has been finished. If these dependencies aren’t detected, they might interfere with team members and cause delays. When grooming the backlog, be sure to identify any dependencies. Backlog grooming requires a guide, and the focus is always on the customer.

She graduated with an MBA in leadership from Excelsior College. Tasks should be prioritized to reflect the order in which they should be completed and which offers the most customer or user value. Large user stories are split into smaller ones that can be addressed on a per-sprint basis and then reorganize points to reflect each work chunk’s complexity and effort. First, it makes sure you’re close enough to the end of the sprint that you’ll have a good sense of what will be accomplished without having to interrupt your workflow between sprints. It also helps you prepare your tea for the upcoming sprint in advance and makes sure everyone knows what to look forward to.

Team efficiency and work velocity is increased.

The person who serves as the backlog grooming lead may differ based on the team and its needs. However, it is common for a Scrum master or project manager to lead. Stories are prioritized to show their immediate value to customers and prepare them for upcoming sprint planning sessions. In backlog grooming meetings, a few activities are commonly included. Finally, a core part of sprint backlog grooming meetings is splitting user stories and larger features up. Are some things higher priority but too large to tackle in your next iteration?

Then the team will ask questions to get a better understanding of the work to be completed. They will also estimate the work and make sure acceptance criteria is present. It is at this point the team should vote on whether the backlog item they have refined meets the Definition of Ready. Backlog refinement is a team event that helps with the Scrum process. The goal of refinement is to dig into the backlog and make sure the team has enough information to work on upcoming stories. It is a collaborative effort where the team comes together to break down User Stories into manageable chunks of work, estimate the work, add acceptance criteria, and comes up with a plan to execute.

How Is Backlog Grooming Different from Sprint Planning?

To help you make sense of this discussion, we define each common term below. The best time to conduct backlog grooming sessions is 2-3 days before your next sprint cycle starts. This article has given you some steps and tools for the backlog grooming process. Contact Chisel, which offers the most efficient product management tools. If you do decide to set up a recurring, regular Backlog Grooming meeting, the Scrum Master or Project Lead might direct the meeting.

backlog grooming best practices

The team is then in a position to be better aligned about the project purpose. The goal of a backlog grooming session is to keep the team’s backlog up to date and make sure that backlog items are prepared for sprints or for sprint planning. This pre-planning and process of backlog refinement assists product managers explain the strategy that inspires updates and changes to the prioritized backlog items. Turn backlog refinement meetings into collaborative experiences so that everyone on the product team gets an in-depth look at the agile project. These sessions are also the perfect opportunity to update the team on new features, user insights, bugs, and other information that accumulates over time. All these items together work in shaping up the tasks and objectives for the next session.

This allows the development team to start the next sprint with confidence. Backlog is defined as the full set of user stories not in the current sprint that defines the remainder of the project’s scope. Left unattended, the list of individual items on a product backlog can quickly become overwhelming to any development team. To make the most of these meetings, it’s best to follow a set of backlog grooming best practices. This will ensure productive meetings that result in a workflow that addresses priority items in a logical order.

When should backlog grooming meetings occur?

By setting priorities in a backlog meeting, everyone can receive the same information. This helps avoid confusion and aligns the entire team with expectations and deadlines. Following are a few things to consider when planning and running your product backlog refinement sessions. It’s important that your backlog is transparent and accessible for the development team and stakeholders. A good way to do that is to put it in a visible place near the team on a wall or a whiteboard. For example, the Lucidspark backlog planning template is cloud-based and can be accessed by team members and stakeholders at any time no matter where they are located.

Your team can quickly get disorganized as you continuously add and remove potential items. Due to the absence of a streamlined way to prioritize feature requests or action items. Now that you have added and eliminated the requisite backlog items, prioritization becomes more critical. In order for the refinement process to be considered a success, the team needs to agree that the item has been refined to the extent that it is now actionable. As a result, there would be little point in going through the process without consulting the team.

What is Story Grooming in Agile? Find answers to all the questions you may have about Agile Backlog Grooming in this blog.

When the backlog receives input from many individuals or other teams within the company, it can turn into a mess. Adding and removing user stories or features is probably the most well-known part of backlog grooming. This is where you look at everything on your backlog and decide what is dead weight and what gaps need to be filled. Make it accessible to your team, whether the backlog is on a product management application or a spreadsheet. You make sure that no one is overburdened with too many tasks.

backlog grooming best practices

Remote MeetingsTransform remote meetings into productive work sessions through collaborative agendas and time-saving templates. Keep your team focused on their sprint with workflow automation and task approvals. Managers can set as many triggers they want that release specific actions, freeing up their team of busywork. To make sure that no user story is completed improperly, there’s task approval so only those authorized to change the status of a task can move it to the done column on your kanban. “Detailed appropriately” means that higher priority items should have more detail than lower priority ones. Backlog items should be “estimated” to understand the cost to implement.

In this step, the product owner will share what needs to happen regarding each epic and user story. They may have already shared these with team members ahead of time. Hence they can prepare questions for discussion among everyone present at this meeting.

Manages backlog chaos

The topic of backlog grooming comes with many terms that are not intuitively understandable. Such terms include user stories, bugs, features, splitting user stories, backlog refinement, backlog grooming, backlog, sprint, estimates, points, Scrum, Scrum master and agile. You will see these terms used often throughout this discussion.

Chiefs of StaffTrack key takeaways from executive meetings, enhance alignment across scaling teams, and amplify the CEO’s communication to help the company flourish. MeetingsBuild collaborative agendas, record notes and action items in real-time, and never forget what was discussed. ProductFeatures OverviewSee how high-performing teams are using Fellow to level-up their meeting and productivity habits. Backlog grooming must have a lodestar to follow and the guide is always the customer.

Tips for running product backlog refinement sessions

With a clean backlog, you can plan sessions, provide client updates, and take care of individual items effectively. Most of the time, when you create new issues, they contain minimal context. But grooming sessions are when you refine these Jira issues with details like task description, estimates, due dates, assignee, priority, etc. These details help give clarity to your issues and will serve as a key reference for your teams when they need to start working.

What Is Backlog Grooming?

With Wrike, you can quickly and easily set up workflows that include a dedicated backlog folder. From there, all incoming tasks and requests will be funneled into the backlog, which you can easily prioritize and edit as needed during your backlog refinement backlog refinement techniques sessions. Backlog grooming uses the term grooming because it refers to keeping backlog clean and orderly. Grooming the backlog is the process by which a product manager discusses items in their current backlog and ranks them according to importance.

SolutionsMeeting agenda softwareCollaborate on meeting agendas, assign action items, and ask for meeting feedback. Many people are using the backlog, and so when it’s updated that information is disseminated throughout the team. That means that everyone is on the same page, but it’s also a two-way street.

Incorporate the best practices above, and your scrum refinement will never feel like a burden. After all, it should only take up five to ten percent of your sprint effort to complete. Present prioritized issues to team members clearly during reviews. Jira has recently enabled users to groom multiple issues at once.

Gantt charts for planning, task lists for your own work, sheet and calendar views—work how you want. All data is updated in real time across all views so there’s a single source of truth keeping everyone on the same page. When done with a backlog grooming session there should be two sprints worth of user stories that the team is ready to work on. This way they have enough work to keep them engaged until the next backlog grooming and also work to do if priorities shift. Sometimes there are user stories or tasks that are not able to start until another is completed. These dependencies, if not identified, can block team members and delay progress.