Techniques and Practices for Product Backlog Refinement

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Product Backlog Refinement Practices

The Product Owner uses a variant of the MoSCoW categorization scheme to identify stories that are high priority (“Must” and “Should”) for the next release. So how should we plan to do Backlog Refinement or what are the best practices for it. He has spent his career helping people and organizations around the world communicate better. He originally hails from Wales, but lives and works in Munich, Germany.

Techniques and Practices for Product Backlog Refinement

Backlog, Backlog, Backlog… One of the key artifacts of Agile / Scrum is the idea of backlogs. Now it can be a Product Backlog at product level or a Sprint Backlog at sprint level. But it is one of the most used terms while working in an agile method.

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They choose the tasks for the group to perform and assign them a priority. Product managers are often the ones most familiar with the project’s parameters. They speak with every team member, vendor and client to break the project into smaller components. The product manager also periodically assesses their team’s work outcomes and organises backlog refinement meetings to get input and assign new responsibilities. You can check your estimate against the actual, thereby improving future planning. Product Backlog Refinement is possible to be done during Sprint planning, although we at Exadel don’t recommend that, especially for new teams.

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A Product Owner should spend less time on writing acceptance criteria and more time on frequent inspection and adaption when the item is in development. Product backlog refinement starts by analyzing the deep backlog data and feedback collected from target users and customers. It’s important to focus on the data that is relevant to understand if you are building the right features with the right technology and UX.

At ERNI, we believe the digitalisation is important across industries. In the European healthcare industry, software solutions are needed that are specially tailored to the respective care landscape in each country and can be rolled out nationwide. We now have powerful tools at our disposal such as version controls, greatly improved IDEs, the cloud, and many more. As these instruments enable us to build complex applications, the intricateness of the software architecture in our applications also evolves along the way.

Sharing relevant objectives with your team during backlog refinement meetings can encourage everyone to think ahead and motivate the team to progress on the project. Backlog Refinement provides the first input to Sprint Planning. To start, it assures the Product Owner properly conveys the project / product objectives to the Scrum Team that will inform the sprint goal. Further, it ensures the Product Backlog remains populated with user stories that are relevant and detailed.


The planning for Product Backlog Refinement sessions should be the responsibility of this core product discovery team. This way the Product Backlog Refinement session will proceed in an organized and planned manner. It is important to call only key Stakeholders or top representatives from each team. Let us understand the basics of Product Backlog Refinement first before we proceed ahead with understanding the best practices. With an objective to enable continuous learning and progression for our learners, PremierAgile curated several learning articles. Preventing misunderstanding by adding details to the items and improving clarity.

Product Backlog Refinement Practices

That was the question I asked myself as a Scrum Master after the situation Covid-19 forced the teams to work from home. We are continuing our series on experiences of newjoiners at ERNI. Now, Georgi, our colleague from ERNI Germany speaks about his first year at the company. The IoT world is a big world that everybody is talking about. IoT products nowadays come in different forms –some are labelled as IoT, but in fact they represent only a small portion of what an IoT product really entails. A fully fledged IoT project not only requires programming and hardware expertise but also expertise on a broad range of domains from energy to smart home and even automotive.

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Characteristics Of Backlog Items

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. 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.

  • Preferably will bring back a result before the next meeting so the item can be brought a step closer to being ready.
  • The backlog refinement process is often the responsibility of a product manager.
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The decisions that are made, the steps taken, and the way Scrum is used should reinforce these values, not diminish or undermine them. The Scrum Team members learn and explore the values as they work with the Scrum events and artifacts. When these values are embodied by the Scrum Team and the people they work with, the empirical Scrum pillars of transparency, inspection, and adaptation come to life building trust. The Scrum Team commits to achieving its goals and to supporting each other.

Finally, it defines the “feature set” for the next Sprint Backlog; user stories that are appropriately refined, estimated, prioritized, and meet the Definition of Ready . One of the biggest reasons for having product backlog refinement is that it keeps your backlog clean. The larger your organization, the more input it might receive. The backlog refinement process is often the responsibility of a product manager.

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However, since the Product Owner has a high stake in the outcome and direction of the discussion, it is better if the Scrum Master facilitates these meetings. The Scrum Master is accountable for establishing Scrum by helping everyone understand Scrum theory and practice, both within the Scrum Team and the organization. As such, the Scrum Master has no official role in the meeting and can be more objective. The Product Owner always attends backlog refinement meetings. The rest of the attendees depend on items that are up for refinement.

The backlog refinement meeting is held at the end of each sprint to make sure that the backlog is ready for the next sprint. The product backlog refinement aims to keep the backlog orderly and clean. During a backlog refinement meeting, the Product Owner and the team discuss the top tasks on the product backlog.

The product backlog shows its real value when it comes to executing an action plan. Additionally, action items on a to-do list tend to be completed within a relatively short time frame. Double-work is created, visibility goes down, and focus is eventually lost; it all adds up to a demoralizing experience. Myth – Sprint planning used to become a really long and boring meeting. The development team estimates the size of the “Must” and “Should” stories, soliciting additional details from the Product Owner as needed.

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A great way to avoid this is involving some members of the Development Team in backlog refinement. Ask more experienced team members to detail backlog items or provide estimates. For instance, junior developers aren’t well-equipped to do this — talk with more senior team members about these topics. By the way, if you look up the term Refinement in the Scrum Guide, you will find that it is not one of the official Scrum events or occurrences such as Sprint and Daily Scrum. Rather, the Product Backlog Refinement is a so-called activity that takes place as a meeting. In addition to the product owner and the development team, the Scrum master and – especially in the case of strategic refinements – stakeholders take part in the refinement meeting.

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Furthermore, data scientists often have an academic background and have limited exposure working in a customer-focused engineering environment. The fourth wave of industrial revolution, also known as Industry 4.0, is already changing the world of manufacturing in many ways. With the industry-wide shift towards cloud computing, securing access to compute and data is becoming more important than ever. This is often felt within teams employing dev-ops practices like continuous integration and continuous deployment.

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This is because this is a dynamic process and emerging ideas are required to keep the process continuous. Participants or rather people who attend the session are the most important entity for Product Backlog Refinement. The session has to be scheduled and the same should be informed to the participants beforehand, in a planned manner. Product Backlog Refinement can be productive only when it becomes a collaborative platform – each open to sharing ideas, brainstorming, and discussing the same. Identifying obstacles and risks for items close to implementation. In light of newly discovered information, estimates should be corrected.

The session is often completed in preparation for an upcoming sprint. It’s best to schedule the meeting a few days prior to the next sprint, since the final days are often consumed completing work in the current sprint. If you do decide to set up a recurring, regular Backlog Grooming meeting, the Scrum Master or Project Lead might direct the meeting. But, if you are trying to ascertain how much time an item is going to take to execute, the team members who will be working on the task are often best placed to make that estimate. If you don’t go through a process of project or product backlog refinement, you’ll waste time trying to make up for insufficient information.

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