Where the user story should already be clearly and well defined, sprint planning requires a little more attention and a backlog will help you plan for your sprints more efficiently. In this guide, you’ll gain an understanding of what backlog grooming is, who’s in charge of running these sessions, who you should invite, and how long they take. A healthy backlog is a prerequisite for efficient, stress-free, and incremental software product development.

Then, do a preliminary prioritization of backlog items so you know what items to focus on in your meeting. Finally, share your notes with team members so they can be prepared for a productive backlog grooming meeting. It’s important to understand the difference between sprint planning and backlog grooming. Sprint planning is a scrum event conducted by the scrum master to set a sprint plan and goal for the upcoming sprint. Sprint planning happens before a sprint starts and after the backlog grooming session and is time-boxed (maximum of eight hours for a month-long sprint).

Product Backlog Grooming

Once this is done, high-priority items will then be escalated to the sprint backlog. 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. Backlog grooming progressively defines and prioritizes all tickets found in the backlog, so your team is well-prepared to begin development. Grooming happens at defined intervals with meetings that last a minimum of 1 hour, typically only once per sprint.

One of the most prominent issue and project tracking tools in the market is Jira. The software provides convenience for agile teams through readily available project planning and product development features, all the way to reporting. You can manage as many projects/products as you want, and your backlogs will automatically be created for you. Assign accurate prioritization to your backlog items to help you decide if they are worth escalating to the sprint backlog. But you can adjust these to better fit your team’s operations.

If the team is working a one-week sprint cycle, running a backlog refinement meeting every week is a recommended practice. The Scrum Master facilitates planning for the Sprint meeting to help the team develop the Sprint Backlog. They pick items for discussion from the top of the list and create their sprint backlog according to the capacity and complexity of parameters. In practice, most experienced development teams spend just a couple of hours per week in a series of short meetings to refine the backlog.

Detailed Appropriately — User stories and other items in the product backlog that will be done soon need to be sufficiently well understood by cross-functional teams. Items and initiatives that will not be delivered for a while should be described with less detail. Depending on the structure of your organization and whether you employ Scrum and agile methods, the backlog grooming process could be performed in the form of regular recurring meetings. Depending on how big your organization is and your company structure, your backlog can receive input from several different teams and departments. Left unattended, this could lead to a messy backlog with a lack of cohesive qualities across backlog items and an overwhelming number of outdated items. The best way to gather some of this information might be to loop in the relevant stakeholders.

The Typical Career Path of a Scrum Master

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 case the product owner is unusable to answer a particular query, they should be ready with the answers in the upcoming sprint planning meeting. The concerned individual should consider everyone’s opinion along with ensuring that everyone understands the top-priority items. Also, the product owner should be given time to ask questions about user stories under discussion.

Managers may create as many prompts as they wish to initiate certain activities, relieving their staff of tedious tasks. To ensure that no user narrative is accomplished erroneously, task approval ensures that only those allowed to modify a task’s status may move it to the done column on your Kanban. There can be differing opinions at a backlog grooming meeting, but everyone on the team is working to create the best product possible. They may disagree on how to proceed, but their drive is based on passion and experience. Prioritized – The product backlog should be arranged in increasing order, with the most valuable things at the top and the least valuable ones at the bottom. Every backlog item is graded based on its business value and fit with the company’s strategic goals.

Times can contract or expand as new information is uncovered, and those changes must be updated regularly. The session should help you to plan and prioritize the next couple of sprints. Everybody should leave the meeting feeling like they know what to do next, meaning that tasks are set, assigned, estimated, and aligned with your overall project and company goals.

Tips to Prepare for Informal Interviews

That does not, however, imply that they are entirely responsible for holding backlog grooming meetings. These meetings can also be rarely led by the Scrum Master , a project manager, or the other team members. Product Backlog refinement meetings are an excellent opportunity to explore progress with the products being worked on by a cross-functional team.

  • Effective and Consistent Prioritization of the requirements leads to successful project completion.
  • They may add user stories, split large user stories, or change priority of existing user stories.
  • Score your Product Backlog items based on how much they matter to your project and the people who benefit from it.
  • Refining also means breaking down big items and initiatives into smaller, more doable tasks.

After a minimal amount of work is done on each item on the backlog – enough to understand the resources involved to complete it — the Scrum Team has a refinement meeting. Whether you’re managing a project or managing the development of a product, backlog management is critical to your success. It’s a skill worth mastering and a process worth investing in. Believe it or not, this process is often neglected as teams tend to skip it and focus on sprint planning instead. Not to mention, when backlog items are also refined with all the necessary information like specifications on deliverables, the team can deliver quality work that satisfies all the requirements.

Have Better Meetings

With these benefits, backlog grooming now means future sprints are more focused. More focused sprints mean higher productivity in a shorter amount of time. Enthusiastic teams often throw lots of tasks into the to-do mix, creating unmanageable lists. Backlog grooming helps to surface the most needed and relevant user stories, then trim them down into manageable work chunks.

The goal of backlog grooming is to ensure that the backlog contains items that are clear, concise, and well-understood by the development team. A groomed backlog helps you not get overwhelmed by the number of incomplete tasks. It forces teams to deliver their product more rapidly and ensures the organization is moving forward on schedule. A well-groomed backlog reduces the time spent on planning sprints and increases the productivity of everyone involved in building the product. When done with a backlog grooming session there should be two sprints worth of user stories that the team is ready to work on.

What is Sprint Planning? 5 Stages of Scrum Sprint – Customer Think

What is Sprint Planning? 5 Stages of Scrum Sprint.

Posted: Sun, 05 Dec 2021 08:00:00 GMT [source]

Although backlog grooming mainly focuses on making sprints more effective, grooming meetings are also an excellent opportunity to check that all team members are on the same track. Make backlog refinement sessions more collaborative so that everyone on the product team has full knowledge of the agile project. Backlog grooming takes place in a regular session where backlog items are reviewed, discussed, and then prioritized by the product owner, the project manager, and any other team member involved. This backlog includes the full set of user stories that aren’t in the current sprint that define the remainder of the project’s scope. You need to keep things moving along and ensure conversations stay on track.

Motivate the Team to Participate

Agile advocate Roman Pichler came up with the acronym DEEP, which stands for detailed appropriately, estimated, emergent and prioritized. Detailed Appropriately- this means that the detailing of ideas should be relevantly done. So, the item or the User Story that is high on priority should typically have more details than the Product Backlog items that are not so relevant at the moment.

For product development teams using the Agile project management methodology, Agile backlog grooming is a critical process that should be performed regularly for maximum impact. However, there is no standard rule for who runs these grooming sessions. Sometimes a scrum master or the product manager can also arrange and run the backlog grooming sessions based on availability. Backlog grooming is a process in which the product owner and product managers review, discuss, and prioritize the list of user stories in the backlog with the entire team. A backlog is a prioritized list of tasks for the team to work on.


At the end of the day, you’re all working towards creating the best product possible. Things are constantly changing in the product world, and that includes changes to priorities and estimates. Make sure that you and the members of your team https://globalcloudteam.com/ are continuously updating your backlog, as changes happen so that any changes are reflected in the backlog and the listing of the user stories. Your backlog grooming serves as a consistent reassessment of the priority of user stories.

When done effectively and on the right cadence, grooming sessions help prevent the backlog from becoming a black hole. Some people feel that grooming backlogs once a sprint is essential for productivity. Hence, they remember what was decided from gathering all tasks for the next sprint!

Benefits of Backlog Prioritization?

Finally, you should break down user stories that have gotten larger than they should be, which is called splitting. Sometimes, when we know we have more time, the conversation can deviate from its initial backlog grooming best practices purpose. If you’re worried about not having quite enough time, we recommend using a meeting agenda template or simply assigning time slots to each user story, item or topic that needs to be discussed.

What is backlog grooming (aka backlog refinement)?

This way they have enough work to keep them engaged until the next backlog grooming and also work to do if priorities shift. Product managers have to balance the needs of their stakeholders, their team and their project objectives. Of course, they need to take into account their resources and the power of their project management tools. Some of the activities required for a healthy backlog are outlined below. Following are a few things to consider when planning and running your product backlog refinement sessions.