9 Tips for Effective Backlog Grooming Sessions

According to Net Solutions’ Agile Product Development report, 21.4% of the product development teams face challenges with backlog refinement. However, understanding how to conduct a backlog grooming session and how to conduct backlog management has been an ongoing challenge. It is normally the Product Manager or the Product Owner who runs backlog refinement sessions. They are the ones with the best understanding of the needs of the customers and the organizational landscape and strategy. Backlog grooming meetings are a chance for the product team to catch up with the most recent developments like customer feedback and how it is affecting the backlog. While they do need to stick to a pre-set list of tasks and objectives, there’s still some wiggle room for personalization.

backlog grooming best practices

When identifying the main workflow or happy path, separate the alternate flows into different user stories. Backlog grooming is something that all agiledevelopment teams need to do regularly. Scrum teams work in sprints, which are short, time-boxed periods in which they accomplish a small chunk of a larger project. Read below to learn all about the process, and get some tips to help your team structure better, more productive meetings.

How Is Backlog Grooming Different from Sprint Planning?

Our insights on building great products with customer insights. Tips & tricks on how to collect customer feedback like a pro. Your backlog is a great source of information for your team, and it can easily help you communicate product strategy and next steps to everyone if you use it right.

  • How do you prepare for this event and which techniques can facilitate effective discussions within the team?
  • The ideas and User Stories that have the highest priority need to be delivered at the earliest.
  • This is done to those user stories that are of a high priority but too large to fit comfortably in an upcoming iteration.
  • The Product Owner should influence estimation by helping the dev team understand and select trade-offs, but the final decision is theirs.
  • Adding and removing user stories or features is probably the most well-known part of backlog grooming.
  • The dynamic nature of the Product Backlog needs to be ensured at all costs; so that there are ample stories ready for iterations, at any given time.

If you don’t catch it before it’s effects ripple, it could lead to poor product decisions. Because your backlog is receiving input from a lot of different people and sometimes from different departments, it’s super important to keep it as clean as possible. Another major purpose of backlog refinement is to keep the backlog populated with initiatives that are relevant. Sales LeadersFellow helps Sales leaders run productive 1-on-1s, team meetings, forecasting calls, and coaching sessions. Learn how agile release planning can help you with your software development and agile project plan.

So you’ll want to keep your grooming sessions focused and short—45 minutes to 1 hour should be enough. Product Backlog refinement meetings are an excellent opportunity to explore progress with the products being worked on by a cross-functional team. In these meetings, product managers and product owners can easily explain the strategic purposes behind prioritized items in their backlog to help improve the alignment across groups. The new product development process can be messy and unwieldy if it’s not managed carefully. In agile projects, product backlog grooming is the key to making sure that projects stay on track.

There could be clashes because there are cross-functional teams present but as the mediator, you need to be well-balanced and just. The objective should be to be focused and reach your goals strategically. Stories are discussed to uncover ambiguities, then clarity is provided so stories are ready for sprint-planning sessions. Always have someone with “doing” skills (e.g. coder for software), someone with a visual mindset (e.g. a UI/UX person), someone with a test mindset, and the product owner.

Many agile practitioners say a “DEEP” product backlog is the key outcome of a backlog refinement session. You can look at backlog grooming as a communications tool because it circulates updated information to your entire team. It’s something your team is referring back to for updates and it ensures that everyone is on the same page. What’s even more beneficial than just you and your team getting updates as they occur, is that your information teams receive feedback from customers during demos.

What is the ideal outcome of a backlog grooming session?

In contrast, a sprint planning meeting focuses on only one short-term work item. In a backlog meeting , user stories, features, bugs and technical work that span multiple sprints are assessed, prioritized, adjusted and added or removed. However, sprint planning focuses on setting a goal for and planning required activities to complete one sprint.

If Scrum isn’t agile, a SaaS solution could be – VentureBeat

If Scrum isn’t agile, a SaaS solution could be.

Posted: Wed, 09 Feb 2022 08:00:00 GMT [source]

The backlog refining product process guarantees that only the most important tasks of your teams are scheduled for completion in the next sprint. Grooming the backlog on a constant schedule makes it doable, enabling teammates to prune user stories and create a rational list of bite-sized pieces to work on. As more items are added to task lists, they tend to grow out of control. When the backlog receives input from a large number of individuals or teams inside the company, it might be chaotic.

Increases overall productivity

But if Backlog Refinement doesn’t become embedded, it can soon fall by the wayside. And when that happens, just watch the backlog become a free-for-all wishlist, full of undefined and unconnected items that lack rhyme or reason. Backlog grooming requires a guide, and the guide is always the customer.

PodcastSupermanagers is for managers, like you, who want to be extraordinary at the fine craft of management. Desktop & Mobile AppsPlan and run productive meetings… wherever you work best. Fellow for EnterpriseSupport company leaders with Fellow’s uniform meeting templates, collaborative one-on-one meetings, and feedback tools. Objectives deep backlog Stay on top of your team’s goals by clearly recording, defining, and tracking the progress of your OKRs in Fellow’s Objectives tool. AnalyticsGain insight about your company’s meeting frequency, productivity, and feedback culture. Explore the essential topics related to scrum sprinting and learn about how the process works.

Estimate items by discussing the weight of the work with all team members. Has tickets created by multiple users, showing the team is forward-thinking, and everyone is contributing. A meeting agenda tool like Fellow can help you assign, visualize, and prioritize all your meeting to-dos in one place. To avoid this whole fiasco, make sure you and your team are updating your backlog in real-time so that you can keep up-to-date. Agenda TemplatesKeep all of your meetings running smoothly with these pre-built meeting agenda templates.

backlog grooming best practices

Assign accurate prioritization to your backlog items to help you decide if they are worth escalating to the sprint backlog. The standard prioritization levels are high, medium, and low. But you can adjust these to better fit your team’s operations.

When figuring out what items in your backlog to prioritize, knowing what your customers want is essential. The goal of backlog refinement is to fill the backlog with activities that are relevant, well-documented, and prioritized in line with the demands of the customer and business. Arrange backlog items based on how ready they are for the sprint backlog and how much value they deliver to help with accurate prioritization.

How long should the session be?

The phrase ‘Backlog Grooming’ refers to exactly the same practice, but the term has fallen out of favor. 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. Sometimes one user story or activity cannot commence until another is done.

It also helps you prepare your tea for the upcoming sprint in advance and makes sure everyone knows what to look forward to. Keeping your backlog organized is one of the best resources for any product team to have. By having a shared resource for everyone to access and easily figure out what needs to be done next helps keep everyone on the same page and builds momentum going forward. In fact, it takes strategic, deliberate thinking to maintain a well-managed backlog, through a process called Backlog Refinement . It also takes commitment, as refining the backlog is not a one-off task.

Team Management

The backlog needs prioritized initiatives necessary to deliver a high-quality product. Team members should never have to wonder if there are important items that aren’t on the backlog or if unnecessary items are listed on the backlog. Every team functions better when it’s well-organized — and that’s the most significant function of backlog grooming. Below are just a few of the major benefits of these agile sessions. Discuss the feedback from external and internal stakeholders and determine if it’s important enough to change or add items to the backlog.

backlog grooming best practices

These are on the top of the list, which moves down to the lowest priority last. Another benefit of backlog grooming is that it’s a way for everyone to see where the product team stands in terms of the different features, projects, bug fixes and improvements. It’s a way to keep transparency among all team members, ensuring that none of them are unaware of the current state of events. Maybe you think all this grooming is more trouble than it’s worth. Maybe you’re a procrastinator that likes to wait until the last minute to get all the tasks lined up for the next sprint. Well, there are certainly benefits to regular backlog grooming, and some of those benefits are touched on below.

Automate Quality Control and Productivity Factors

It’s fully aligned with your company’s strategic goals and business value for current and future stakeholders. “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. “Emergent” states that the backlog is dynamic and always moving from idea to completed work. “Prioritize” speaks to which item is most important and must be addressed before the others.

We understand that.This is precisely why we made a podcast on the topic. Mitul Makadia, CEO & Founder of Maruti Techlabs, talks to Bikshita Bhattacharyya about his Agile implementation, strategy, and process during the nascent stages of the company. This is where the need to follow Product Backlog Refinement best practices is pertinent.

benefits of a backlog grooming session

This way the sprint backlog is ready even before the Sprint starts. The process also helps you assess and highlight risks or blockers in your https://globalcloudteam.com/ product/project management journey. Most importantly, backlog grooming helps you avoid scope creep and keeps you on track for completion.

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