Backlog Cleanup

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Last updated 13 Oct 17:23

TL;DR

A well-managed backlog results in a better overview of your important open issues and features, faster planning, and a cleaner scope. Periodically remove obsolete items from the backlog that have been created throughout the project lifecycle.

What Is Backlog Cleanup

Backlog Cleanup describes the process of managing issues or ideas for new features in your product backlog. After some strategy meetings in the last months/quarters, some of the items in your backlog may be out of scope, since the product strategy has shifted in a different direction.

Product backlog
Source: Close-up sticky note with product backlog

Why You Might Want Backlog Cleanup

Both the prioritiation and the size of a product backlog is key. Your team will most probably work on the top items in the list.
When backlogs grow, it will be harder to see the relationship between items. Backlog cleanup will help you to keep track.

Problems Backlog Cleanup Helps to Solve

  • Getting a better overview of important tasks
  • Not loosing time due to a long and confusing backlog

How to Implement Backlog Cleanup

  • Go through the product backlog on a regular basis: For example, once a week or month: This process is called Grooming. The frequency depends on your the number of new cards and how often strategy changes happen.
  • Find a good upper limit for the number of items: You can store your ideas separately and review them after your next strategy meeting.
  • Group related items: To find relations between items, you can try to group them in Epics. Epics are your big topics that contain smaller pieces that are required to reach a goal or ship a bigger feature.
  • Prioritize your backlog: The higher the items in the list, the more important they are.
  • Make enough items ready to work on: In each sprint, your team works on the items at the top of your backlog. The team needs to know what to do.

Common Pitfalls

  • You will often see items that are not ready to work on yet. Remove these items and take them (again) to your next grooming meeting.
  • There may be ideas that do not fit the current product strategy. Don't forget to lower their priority or remove them from your backlog.
  • When you have too many backlog items to work on, it becomes difficult to work with your backlog.

Resources for Backlog Cleanup