Effective Backlog Grooming

January 20, 2016

A typical Prioritized Product Backlog will contain all User Stories, their time estimates (including any revised estimates), and the status of higher priority requirements. Any new or revised User Stories resulting from changes to business requirements, customer requests, external market conditions, and/or lessons learned from previous Sprints are also incorporated.

Product Backlog Review Meeting

Also referred to as a Prioritized Product Backlog Grooming Session, the Product Backlog Review Meeting is basically a formal meeting during the Groom Prioritized Product Backlog process, which helps the Scrum Team review and gain consensus about the Prioritized Product Backlog. However, other than the Prioritized Product Backlog Review Meeting, Prioritized Product Backlog grooming should happen throughout the project and can include situations in which the Product Owner writes new User Stories or reprioritizes User Stories in the existing Prioritized Product Backlog, Scrum Team members or Stakeholders give their suggestions about new User Stories to the Product Owner, and so forth.

Backlog Grooming Session

The Product Owner takes the lead in a Product Backlog Review Meeting which is conducted during the Groom Prioritized Product Backlog process. It is important that the Product Owner sets the objectives and ideally develop an agenda before the Product Backlog Review Meeting begins. Without these, the session will be unstructured and may prove unproductive. It is also important to limit the number of stakeholders participating in the meeting. Having too many participants tends to decrease the overall efficiency of the meeting. The Product Owner should invite only those stakeholders whose feedback is required for the grooming session. All Scrum Team members should be included because their input is valuable to the work being done and any issues encountered. If the grooming session results in any reprioritization of or change in the Prioritized Product Backlog, it is important that the team is in agreement with those changes.

Backlog Grooming Techniques

  • Develop Epic(s)
  • Create Prioritized Product Backlog
  • Conduct Release Planning
  • Create User Stories
  • Approve, Estimate, and Commit User Stories
  • Create Tasks
  • Estimate Tasks

Grooming helps ensure that refining of requirements and their User Stories is done well in advance of the Sprint Planning Meeting so that the team has a well-analysed and clearly defined set of stories that can be easily broken down into tasks and subsequently estimated. Based on lessons learned from the current Sprint, there may be changes to requirements, or there may be reprioritization that can be easily incorporated into subsequent Sprints. Grooming supports and enhances the flexibility of the Scrum model by incorporating the latest business and technical insights into future Sprints.


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