Therefore you avoid refining a product backlog item in the Sprint Planning, which would inflate the event. Scrum is a tactical framework to build products, provided you identify what is worth making in advance. But even after a successful product discovery phase, you may struggle to create the right thing in the right way if your Product Backlog is not up to the job—garbage in, garbage out. The following article points to 27 common Product Backlog anti-patterns – including the Product Backlog refinement process – limiting your Scrum team’s success. While there is no required length of time for backlog refinement meetings, aim for around 45 minutes to an hour.

  • Ask your team members to drop their names in the template’s sticky notes and rate how they’re feeling before your backlog refinement session.
  • You really should have at least 2 or 3 Sprints’ worth of fully refined items.
  • Once you update the backlog, you can send it back to Jira with the refined updates.
  • But the description must give the team a clear understanding of what it is.

In my experience, it is the easiest way to improve the Scrum team’s performance and thus the team’s standing among stakeholders and customers. The second artifact is, of course, the Product Backlog. Dependencies in a product backlog refer to any task you can’t get started on until your team has completed another user story. Make sure to identify the dependencies in your backlog before updating it with new tasks. Items don’t have to be ready after one refinement meeting.

How Long Should My Backlog Refinement Meeting Be?

Therefore, you want to have a well-defined product backlog item with clear boundaries that give your product more value. Product Backlog items that can be Done by the Scrum Team within one Sprint are deemed ready for selection in a Sprint Planning event. They usually acquire this degree of transparency after refining activities.

Because it’s an ongoing process, you can refine work items multiple times until they are considered “ready” for development. A product backlog item inside Azure DevOpsProduct Backlog Items in Azure DevOps provide vital areas to define a clear scope of the work that you need to do when taking on this item. So during the refinement event, you leverage Azure DevOps backlog items to fulfill this prerequisite. How to visualize a backlog refinement event in Azure DevOps. Now, it’s time to gather your troops and create a shared understanding of your user stories, and prioritize them on value and cost. Still, many teams like to use a meeting to quickly size user stories.

The Product Owners Second Team

Identifying risks and obstacles for items close to implementation. It leverages the benefits of collaboration in detailing user stories and defects. Mike Cohn specializes in helping companies adopt and improve their use of agile processes and techniques to build extremely high-performance teams. He is the author of User Stories Applied for Agile Software Development, Agile Estimating and Planning, and Succeeding with Agile as well as the Better User Stories video course. Mike is a founding member of the Agile Alliance and Scrum Alliance and can be reached at If you want to succeed with agile, you can also have Mike email you a short tip each week. Backlog refinement in that sense is really a checkpoint rather than an effort to fully resolve issues.

backlog refinement meeting

A Testing API can help you decrease the structural coupling between your production code and your test code. A bold claim, of course, and it sounds very theoretical. To provide you with more depth than just a basic concept, I want to show you today how you can implement a Testing Product Backlog Refinement API with .NET. Poorly defined acceptance criteria (like the one in the item ;)) can lead to difficulties during the development of the item, which slows down your progress. The Azure DevOps backlog helps you to get a rough overview of all the items and their current status.

Rather, the product owner needs only to address them just enough so that the team feels confident that the story can be adequately discussed during the coming planning meeting. The user stories in your backlog refinement meeting must have enough details for product team members to act upon. Every member should have a shared understanding of their work. Backlog refinement meetings allow team members to discuss user stories, have a conversation about business challenges, and gain clarity on their responsibilities. The backlog refinement template allows you to reexamine what’s relevant in your backlog, what’s not, and what new user stories you should include. That way, your team gets a clear view of the tasks they must complete in the sprint.

The Product Backlog According To The Scrum Guide

Without ordering your Product Backlog in descending order of prioritization, you risk working on items that aren’t all that important, and missing important ones. Without sizing each item, you’re not taking the ‘cost’ of items into account and risk overrating high-value, high-cost items, and underrating lower value, lower-cost items. I’ve created a PDF you can download that will help you decide which approach is best for any story you’re adding detail to. Additionally, Azure DevOps provides valuable fields like a priority, business value, or value area to provide more information and higher further granularity.

If you and your team filled the areas with sufficient information so that everyone has a clear and measurable understanding of an item, you could move the item to the “Ready” column. A common understanding of how much details a pbi must have is good, but a DoR is often used as a gatekeeper. A pbi is a communication tool – as long as it’s clear, then it’s fine.

backlog refinement meeting

By asking these questions earlier, the product owner is given a chance to arrive at answers to any questions he or she may not be prepared to answer immediately. Acceptance criteria should clearly state when an item is considered “Done”. The Azure DevOps Backlog Boards pageWith the help of columns, you can give your backlog higher granularity and better track the current progress. Estimate the story size of each issue with your team members. Workflow Visualize all the actions and steps needed to complete a project or process. And re-sized for new information and as an item gets closer to implementation.

Features Of The Backlog Refinement Template

But the description must give the team a clear understanding of what it is. The primary question is, how do I visualize it effectively? This scenario is often the case when having Product Backlog Refinement events in Scrum. But using the right tools, e.g., Azure DevOps, for the event and structuring it the right way, you can refine your items more efficiently and create well-defined work items. Today, You probably know Scrum is the most general framework for maintaining complex products. You might also have the weekly procedure to attend a meeting called “Product Backlog Refinement.” Here you want to define the new work items for the next sprints.

One approach is to see the refinement of product backlog items as an ongoing process where only experts come together and refine specific items. The refinement can also be in a dedicated event, but this time not everyone is attending. The needs and expectations of your target user will continually change over time, which is why you must frequently update your product.

backlog refinement meeting

Digité provides Artificial Intelligence-driven project/ work management solutions. We empower your teams to do their best work with our innovative products. If you think you shouldn’t do it near the end of a Sprint, you’re probably cutting refinement too close.

A backlog refinement template helps you identify which ideas in your backlog are irrelevant and replace them with new user stories, so you can continue building the product users want. I’d prefer to conduct the meeting without such team members. As long as the same team members don’t miss the meeting each sprint, I think it’s fine to conduct backlog refinement meetings with about half the team plus the product owner and ScrumMaster.

If the procurement process of your organization requires a different purchasing process, please contact Berlin Product People GmbH directly. With your team, prioritize which issues you want to focus on now, next, or later. Information Technology Empower hybrid, remote, or distributed teams to work better together. Executives Activate imagination and innovation across all your teams. Features MURAL’s intuitive features make collaboration creative, engaging, and productive. And still others do it mid-iteration and alternate the Backlog Refinement and Sprint Planning meetings.

Prepare For A Sprint Or Strategic Planning

You really should have at least 2 or 3 Sprints’ worth of fully refined items. That also ensures you have ample time to answer any questions. The Product Owner can refine items on the backlog at any time, in or outside a meeting.

Especially for big projects, not everybody has complete knowledge about every part of a system. Therefore you often see people sitting passively in this refinement “meeting” and contributing nothing. Since Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber introduced the framework, many teams interpreted their version of Scrum or a slight variation. What stands out is that many Scrum teams create a dedicated event where the whole team gets together and starts refining new backlog items.

Prioritizing items, and re-prioritizing them when you add more details or gain new insights. Smaller items are more focused and manageable and are easier to size. Not just for the Product Manager, but for the entire team. It improves the efficiency of the Sprint Planning meeting because most questions are already answered.

Scrum is not good at formulating hypotheses and running experiments, validating or falsifying them, otherwise referred to as product discovery. That is not tactics but part of operations, positioning the Scrum team for success. If you look at the flow diagram above, Scrum’s part—tactics—is on the right side, while the product discovery part—operations—is on the left. There are ample opportunities to deal with the left part of the process, for example, Lean Startup, Design Thinking, Design Sprint, Lean UX, Dual-Track Agile, just to name a few. Goodbye to stories that are no more than titles in user story template format. It’s also called story time, pre-planning, and backlog management.

You can reflect new insights easily by adding, changing, and removing items. Are ordered according to their priority in terms of business value and effort required.

Review the backlog to identify if there are any issues that could break down into smaller tasks or be removed from your backlog altogether. The Scrum Master is not needed in the meeting, but is important in helping the rest of the team understand what makes a good Product Backlog item and how you prioritize them to maximize value delivered. Who else attends can vary with the items that are up for refinement.