What is the definition of backlog grooming?
Backlog preparation, also known as backlog refinement or story time, is a recurring event for agile product development teams. The main goal of a backlog session is to ensure upcoming sprints with valuable user stories.Product Backlogare prepared for sprint planning. Regular backlog preparation sessions also help ensure the right stories are prioritized and the backlog doesn't become a black hole.
Synonymous:Refinement of the order book, Story Time
Backlog refinement sessions provide an opportunity for product managers and owners to explain the strategic purposes behind prioritized items in the backlog. These conversations can help improve alignment in the cross-functional team.
There are also several tactical objectives of backlog preparation sessions:
- Break large user stories into smaller tasks.
- Discuss user stories with the team and answer any related questions to clear up any confusion.
- Ensure upcoming user stories meet the team's "Definition of Done" by adding key context information and acceptance criteria.
- Sometimes (but not always) the Scrum Master or Project Manager and Delivery Team use this session to estimate stories and assign story points.
Besides,regular order book refinement sessionskeep under control the general state and organization of the backlog. When done effectively and at the right pace, preparation sessions help prevent backlog from turning into a black hole.
Watch this video for a detailed explanation of backlog maintenance and how to run a backlog maintenance meeting efficiently.
What is the ideal outcome of a backlog session?
At the end of a backlog refinement session, you should have a prioritized list of user stories. You want the items at the top of the backlog to contain the highest level of detail. Any larger stories near the top should be broken down into smaller, more manageable tasks. As you move up the roster, the stories can get bigger and move away from your team's definition of ready. The work completed during these sessions will ultimately result in a greater shared understanding and smoother and more efficient sprint planning meetings.
Many agile practitioners say that a"DEEP" product portfolioit is the most important result of a backlog refinement session.
What is a DEEP Product Backlog?
DEEP is an acronym used to indicate some key features of a product portfolio.
- Reasonably Detailed:Stories and other backlog items contain enough contextual information for the cross-functional team to understand and analyze.
- Emergency:It's easy to add new stories and items as new information emerges. Nothing is set in stone.
- Estimated:The effort for each user story is roughly estimated using a standardized measure agreed upon in the team.
- Prioritized:Backlog items are categorized based on their value and the strategic purposes they serve.
Who conducts the backlog refinement sessions?
In many cases, the Product Owner or Product Manager is tasked with facilitating backlog refinement sessions. However, that does not mean that they are solely responsible for conducting backlog preparation sessions. It is also not uncommon for the Scrum Master (in Agile Scrum Teams) to do the following:project Manager, or another member of the team to lead these sessions.
Some experimentation may be necessary before determining who is the best person to lead the refinement ceremony. And that's fine. Whoever leads nursing sessions is responsible for a few important things:
- Plan the session and make sure the right people are invited (and actually attend).
- Approach conversations objectively and productively.
- Play timers and move the conversation forward when the team is stuck.
- Sending follow-up messages to the team after the session.
Which brings us to our next question: Which team members should be invited to backlog preparation sessions?
Who attends backlog preparation meetings?
These events are intended as a cooperation. This means that the entire cross-functional team must be represented at refinement meetings. You need the combined expertise of the different roles on your team to effectively develop your user stories.
At a high level, here are some different roles that require representation.refinement sessions:
- Someone facilitating the session: This could be a product owner, product manager, scrum expert, project manager, or even an agile coach or consultant.
- product ownerand/or other representatives of the product team.
- delivery team (If the team is too large to accommodate, consider inviting management representatives.)
- quality control representative
Also, a quick note about the guests. While you want to encourage cross-functional collaboration, you need to make sure you don't interferealots of ideas and opinions. So only invite the people who are absolutely critical to the task at hand.
Even if key stakeholders want to attend (and have the best of intentions), they usually don't need to be present at preparation meetings. As a product owner or product manager, your conversations with stakeholders should happen before backlog refinement sessions, not during.
How long should backlog maintenance take?
There is no set time frame for a backlog refinement session. However, it is not advisable to spend an excessive amount of time on these sessions. The general consensus on the ideal length of a backlog session is between 45 minutes and 1 hour.
Efficiency is the key to nursing sessions. You need to keep things moving and make sure the conversations stay on track. Some teams choose to assign time limits to each user story to keep things moving. This is where the project manager, scrum master, or other facilitator can be incredibly helpful. Even then, it may seem like you're packing a lot of work into a short block of time, but if you're properly prepared, you can easily have effective sessions.
How should a Product Owner prepare for backlog cleanup?
Anyone attending a backlog prep session should prepare ahead of time. This is especially true for Product Owners and Product Managers, whose lack of preparation can lead to frustratingly inefficient meetings.
So before a backlog refinement session, there are a few things to do to get you in the right mindset.
- Rethink strategic objectives: First, take a step back and remember the overall strategy outlined in the product roadmap. You don't need to review the entire roadmap each time you prepare for backlog preparation, but you do need to keep the overall goals in mind.
- Talk to stakeholders:Sync regularly with internal (leaders) and external (customers) stakeholders for feedback. As a product person, you are the link between the stakeholders and the strategy.
- See key metrics:If you do any experiments (which you should!), you should check the results. You should also look at the status of all the key metrics your team is monitoring to notice important changes.
After doing a little verification, you should feel ready to answer the following questions:
- What are the biggest issues and stories right now?
- Why are these top priorities right now?
- What is their value and how do they fit with our strategic objectives?
With the answers to these questions in mind, you can start to see what the next sprints might look like. You will most likely need to re-prioritize backlog based on new insights and evolving needs. It is advisable to change prioritiesBeforenot during the backlog preparation session. However, some teams prefer to collectively reprioritize user stories in the backlog so everyone can discussBecausethings move
Ideally, you will have prioritized the next 2-3 sprints with stories before the preparation session. They don't have to be mature stories with broad acceptance criteria. Get ready to communicate not just who they are, but who they areBecauseare important. if you can't explainBecauseSomething is high priority on the backlog, it's not ready to be there.
Additionally, we recommend briefing the rest of your cross-functional team prior to your nursing session. Before the meeting, send them a list of stories to discuss so they too can take time to prepare. A well-prepared team leads to a productive backlog prep session.
Learn more about the basics of acceptance criteria below.
See also:Product Backlog,sprint backlog,LOW residue,acceptance requirements