Product Backlog Refinement

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Last updated 06 Feb 09:19

TL;DR

Product Backlog Refinement is a summary of all activities related to updating your Product Backlog items. Product Owners are responsible for the refinement but they should make decisions based on the feedback from the Development Teams and stakeholders. Read more to understand how to make Product Backlog Refinement effective.

What Is a Product Backlog Refinement

Product Backlog Refinement is an act when the Product Owner (PO) in collaboration with the Development Team prioritizes the backlog items and adds details and estimates. It is necessary to keep your backlog updated regularly to keep track of all the improvements your product needs.

During Product Backlog Refinement, the PO and the Development Team collaborate and review the backlog items. It should be set regularly before Sprint Planning. however, the PO can update the backlog items any time during the Sprint.

FYI

Product Backlog is a prioritized list of items the Scrum team is going to finish in the current sprint. For more information, see Product Backlog.

Backlog Refinement is also known as Backlog Grooming. The word “grooming” was officially replaced by “refinement” in the Scrum Guide due to negative connotations in British English.

Backlog Refinement
Source: Backlog Refinement

Why You Might Want to Practice Product Backlog Refinement

Regular Product Backlog Refinement ensures that the items in the backlog are relevant and that every team member knows what to start with the next sprint and what item has a priority.

The backlog is a dynamic list and keeping it updated is crucial for smooth product development. Reviewing the list items regularly can help you with reconsidering the priorities and remembering entries that could be easily forgotten.

Problems the Product Backlog Refinement Helps to Solve

How to Implement Product Backlog Refinement

When?

The Product Backlog Refinement can happen any time and as often as necessary but it is usually considered as one of the Agile events and happens regularly once each sprint.

How long?

The Development Team should not spend more than 10% of their time refining their backlog each sprint. The PO should have a prepared vision for the product before the meeting and then each refinement should not take longer than one hour.

What?

During the refinement, the PO is responsible for:

  • Reviewing backlog items
  • Removing items that are no longer relevant
  • Creating new items whenever there is a requirement
  • Re-assessing priorities
  • Changing the estimates if it is needed
  • Splitting user stories or moving them to the next iteration if necessary

The refined Product Backlog items express the work that should be finished during one sprint/iteration.

How?
The higher the item is on the list, the more important it is. The higher ordered items are usually clearer and more detailed.

The POs should have a simple strategy to maintain the backlog. They should consider feedback from every team member (and stakeholders when necessary) - they have to understand the product’s vision and roadmap.

Common Pitfalls of the Product Backlog Refinement

  • The PO makes the refinement just by themselves
  • Endless discussions derail the meeting and bring no benefits
  • The PO collects feedback only from a few (senior) team members

Resources for the Product Backlog Refinement