How Backlog Refinement makes your Product grow well

Goals and activities

  • Remove items that are no longer relevant.
  • Sort the items to reflect the new priorities.
  • Split the priority items which cannot be done in a single Sprint into smaller ones.
  • Create new items based on new needs, circumstances, knowledge, and feedback.
  • Estimate or adjust the estimates for the items on top of the list.

Best practices

Regularity

Agenda

  1. Reiterate the vision of the product. You might find this boring to repeat what everyone should know anyway. However, our brain functions in a way that we do need recycling to refresh the right focus in mind. The vision might sometimes change according to changes in the business world. You will not be able to discover such shifts without checking new backlog items against your current vision.
  2. Level down: take a look at your product roadmap for the next time period, say, one or two releases ahead. Identify the pain points you want to address and the gains you want to target.
  3. Move no longer relevant backlog items to the “tail” and take everyone’s confirmation to trim it.
  4. Identify new backlog items together with their value hypotheses. Attach the basic outcomes of discussion and capture questions, and, assign action items.
  5. Re-sort the list. Use the approaches to prioritization negotiated with the Team. Consider the expected value, uncertainty, risks, and complexity. Weighted Short Job First (WSJF) method might be helpful.
  6. Break down big backlog items (Epics) to smaller pieces (User Stories). Attach details, wireframes and architectural agreements together with any design decisions.
  7. Identify dependencies with other products and Teams.
  8. Re-sort the list again.
  9. Ensure that you have the Product Backlog items sufficiently clarified according to your DoR to pack two upcoming Sprints.

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Alexander Postnikov

Alexander Postnikov

Agile practitioner, consultant, and coach (PAL, PSM, PSPO, SPS, KMP, PSK, PSD)