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what is backlog

Depending on where you maintain your backlog, your daily practice may involve holding discussions about backlog items within Jira or GitHub. Refined backlog items are a bit like all the pieces of track that are ready to lay down in front of the train to get you to the end destination. The Scrum Master should also attend backlog refinement meetings, either to sit-in or to facilitate discussions. Adding detail helps teams form a better idea of how long a task may take to complete and what resources are needed to complete it.

  • With a smooth-running backlog, product managers and owners will always know A) what teams are currently working on, and B) what those teams will be working on next.
  • Fostering discussion around what’s important gets everyone’s priorities in sync.
  • A product backlog is an ordered list of tasks, features, or items to be completed as part of a larger roadmap.
  • The project kickoff meeting is a pivotal event in the life of any project.

By prioritizing tasks by their level of importance, development teams may be able to more efficiently manage their time. This may allow developers to spend less time differentiating between tasks and more time completing important list items. For example, the same client might request a change to the existing organizational feature of categorized contracts. They wish to use the key command “CRTL+Enter” instead of “CRTL + Shift” t to organize their contracts by the type of service they use. You can add this request to the backlog as a change item so the development team completes all necessary tasks.


As the product manager, you’ll use epics to guide your product roadmap and backlog list items. As you can see with this example, one epic can result in multiple user stories and product features. A product backlog is an ordered list of tasks, features, or items to be completed as part of a larger roadmap. The product owner typically oversees the backlog and makes any final decisions regarding its components. In Scrum processes, this individual is often a senior-level employee from a company’s product management or marketing department who represents the customer’s interests.

  • Prioritization is the key feature of a backlog in which elements placed above in the backlog are more important and must be addressed first.
  • It’s quite common to push a release live with a large collection of minor (and sometimes moderate) defects.
  • However, backlog grooming can also be delegated to team members so they’re more involved in their projects and understand what needs to be done at all times.
  • The team may also get hung up in how to use the tool rather than selecting the process that works best for them.

Some bugs may be important enough to interrupt your team’s current sprint, while others can wait for the next sprint. An overall rule with bugs, however, is to keep them at the top of your product backlog so your team doesn’t forget about them. After gathering further information, you may include these additional details in your backlog. This may help a team further understand your client’s expectations and develop ideas for how to best fulfill their needs.

Typical items on a product backlog include user stories, changes to existing functionality, and bug fixes. While a product backlog is a long-term collection of action items, a spring backlog often describes a short-term plan for a specific time period. It’s often part of a full product backlog ‌developers add to a new document for a sprint, which is a dedicated work session for pre-selected tasks.

Who is responsible for a backlog?

On a regular day-to-day work basis, it won’t be wrong to say that the product backlog is more important than the roadmap. Integrate your bug fixing workflow within the end-to-end development of your products to track and resolve bugs seamlessly. It’s a decision-making artifact that helps you estimate, refine, and prioritize everything you might sometime in the future want to complete. These are some of the questions we’ll be answering in this project management glossary article. For products that are already deployed (like SaaS platforms), feature updates will need to be planned via the backlog.

what is backlog

And multiple backlog items with user stories sit under an Epic, which is a larger piece of work such as a feature update. At its core, backlog refinement is the act of adding more and more detail to backlog items over time using different techniques. All this makes up for a strategic plan which is then split into multiple projects and subtasks. Now the role of the product backlog is to organize and manage these projects and subtasks through prioritization and gives a direction to the workflow.

How to Create a Product Backlog

Technical debt includes work that needs to be done for the product to stay up to date and be maintainable. When technical debt builds up – whether deliberately or unknowingly — you can risk delaying product releases. A product backlog helps your team run like a well-oiled machine by improving organization and collaboration.

what is backlog

One way to maintain order in the face of chaos is to implement a structured system for tagging, categorizing, and organizing the data. One key component that gives a backlog meaning is the prioritized items. Therefore, the items ranked highest on the list represent the team’s most important or urgent items to complete.

New: Sprint Poker Estimation

In short, backlogs represent everything the team could build, while roadmaps indicate what the organization has prioritized. That said, a theme-based visual roadmap is not just a list of backlog items slated for each upcoming release. In addition to these tactical benefits, you can hold periodic grooming sessions. Grooming sessions are an excellent opportunity to bring the entire cross-functional team together to ensure everyone is working toward a standard set of strategic goals.

Experience the new way of doing product management

Product backlogs are often a key component of Scrum and Agile development methods. Software development managers may use a product backlog to align the efforts of their development team. Product backlogs list the items of the highest priority at the top, allowing development teams to identify which tasks to complete first.

These tasks should be added to the backlog, and then prioritized along with features and defects, so they can be included in the planning cycle. Because all the work for a product flows through the backlog, the product backlog provides a base for iteration planning. As your team prioritizes tasks with guidance from the product owner, they’ll also determine how much work they can commit to in a specified block of time. Your team may feel inclined to complete simple tasks first so they can remove them from the product backlog and shorten the list, but this is a less efficient form of project management. The product backlog will continue to grow, so tackling complex tasks first is often the most effective. Creating a backlog can be done in many different ways, with the most common method being to create user stories.

It represents an option the team has for delivering a specific outcome rather than a commitment. A team’s roadmap and requirements provide the foundation for the product backlog. Roadmap Sacrificing Ratio Meaning, Example, Formula, etc initiatives break down into several epics, and each epic will have several requirements and user stories. Let’s take a look at the roadmap for a ficticious product called Teams in Space.

Ideally, everyone will have chosen a similar number, leading to a quick discussion about how many hours the task will take. ✅ As a Scrum Master, collecting anonymous Sprint Poker effort estimations will prevent my team copying each other and help us estimate effort more accurately. As items get closer to the bottom of the funnel they become more refined and accurate. The Scrum Guide doesn’t give any hard and fast rules, so it’s up to you and your team. The train has to slam on the brakes to make sure it doesn’t go off the rails. Maybe it even comes to a grinding halt, eradicating the velocity built up over time.

All the teams and departments involved in the development cycle make use of the product backlog for prioritization and project progress management. When a certain task is completed it is replaced by the one below it or there can also be alterations in the priority order depending on the situational requirements. The backlog helps in the assessment (user and market analysis, project requirements), rectification (feature replacement or bug fixing), and prioritization of tasks and objectives. It helps ensure the team is working on the most important and valuable features, fixing the most important bugs, or doing other important work critical to product development. A product backlog is more than a simple to-do list—it’s where you break down complex tasks into a series of steps and delegate them to team members. Bug fixes are self-explanatory, and your Scrum team should address these quickly to uphold the integrity of the product.

Agile Product Backlogs

Creating a backlog can be done in various ways, with the most common method being to create user stories which are short descriptions of the tasks users need or want to be completed. Once user stories are created, you then prioritize them based on their level of importance (i.e., high priority, medium priority, low priority). Backlogs and road maps are essential processes in the planning and development stages of a project. A road map is a document that outlines a project’s overall goals and plans, while a backlog is a list of tasks that help teams implement and achieve these goals and plans. When created and managed correctly, the backlog becomes a tool that helps teams navigate constant change, reach peak productivity, and deliver maximum value to both the business and the customer. In short, the sprint backlog is the short-term plan for the team’s sprint.

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