Keeping an updated and prioritized backlog is a critical part of Scrum, but it can be overwhelming, especially for a new team.
Is your backlog refinement meeting taking forever, or maybe just not feeling as effective as it should?
You can learn to run efficient and effective backlog refinement sessions. This article will cover three key ideas to help you run an excellent backlog refinement session.
The backlog is a prioritized list of all known requirements for the product. It’s constantly in flux, and the product owner is responsible for keeping it up to date. The product owner, scrum master, subject matter experts, and development team meet to refine the backlog each sprint. These subject matter experts aren’t part of the Scrum team, but they are invited because their expertise relates to what’s in the backlog.
As they work through items in the backlog, the product owner can introduce and explain them. I let some teams just read what was on the card for a given item and see how well it communicated. This practice helped me see gaps in the descriptions. This clarity is essential because I wanted what was written on the card to communicate effectively when the team selects an item for the sprint.
When reviewing a given product backlog item (PBI), here are possible examples of the conversation:
Some PBIs may be combined or split into smaller tasks as the team gets more clarity. The product owner may choose to reprioritize items in the backlog based on what they learn.
Usually, the product owner leaves the meeting with a to-do list that may include things like:
When run poorly, the meeting involves the product owner reading through all the PBIs and everyone else quietly listening. It’s efficient but ineffective. When run well, there is often robust discussion around key PBIs. It will take longer, and the team probably won’t get through as much as the PO hoped, but there will be actionable clarity on what to do next.
Scrum has a lot of meetings and it can be hard to keep them straight, especially when you're getting started.
The Scrum meeting checklist has all the details you need to run effective Scrum meetings.