Product Backlog

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Last updated 06 Feb 09:19

TL;DR

A Product Backlog is a breakdown of prioritized work to be done. It is a sorted list of changes your product needs. It is usually the Product Owner who is responsible for creating and updating the backlog. Read more to find out how to create your own backlog!

What Is a Product Backlog

A Product Backlog is a prioritized list of work. Keeping the backlog is a typical agile practice. The backlog is a continuously improved list where the most important items are on the top of the list. It tells the team members what they should start with.

The backlog consists of all the new features, use cases, user stories, bug fixes, changes to existing functionalities, and other requirements that are planned to finish for the future release of your product. All these requirements usually consist of to-do list entries where you can add descriptions and estimated characteristics. The backlog is finished when the product is finished.

It is usually the Product Owners who are responsible for updating the backlog and they decide the prioritization. The backlog should be the connection between the Product Owner and the development team.

Product Backlog
Source: Product Backlog

Why You Might Want to Create the Product Backlog

Creating the Product Backlog helps you with:

  • Prioritizing your work
  • Planning the product’s development
  • Specifying tasks
  • Learning about the desired outcome
  • Avoiding wasting time debating whether an option is valuable - you can just add a new item to the backlog as a reminder

Problems the Product Backlog Helps to Solve

How to Create the Product Backlog

There are multiple tools for creating backlogs, such as Jira, Sprintly, or Asana. The Product Owner (PO) starts with listing the most important and well-known requirements and continuously improves the list and adds more items. After creating the backlog, it is important to keep it updated so it follows the product development.

Your product is constantly changing and so is its backlog. It can react to the business needs, market or technology changes. It is important to have regular Backlog Refinements to catch these changes and to discuss the priorities.

The POs job at the Backlog Refinements is to review the backlog before each sprint (or iteration) planning and checks if the goals were met. A good PO asks for feedback from the team members, designers, and stakeholders and optimizes everyone’s workload. The PO can then re-prioritize work in the backlog any time, but it is recommended to keep the changes to a minimum once the work is in progress so it does not disturb the product development.

If you share your backlog with the stakeholders, they can question the prioritization. These discussions are good - you can ensure that everyone shares the same approach and that the priorities are well understood.

Common Pitfalls of the Product Backlog

  • The PO does not listen to feedback from developers or stakeholders
  • There are too many irrelevant items in the backlog and the PO does not know how they made it into the list
  • The backlog is stored locally and it is not shared frequently. The third parties, therefore, cannot suggest edits or updates.
  • The prioritization is created only based on a PO’s personal opinions

Resources for the Backlog Refinement