BACKLOG GROOMING

The backlog grooming (also Backlog Refinement Meeting and Story Time) is a meeting where the team or some team members (and the product owner) regularly “groom” the product backlog. This meeting is to make sure the backlog is always up to date. This grooming sessions usually take place 2-3 days before next sprint planning to make sure the backlog is updated.

The backlog in agile approach is dynamic way of handling requirements. This means that the detailed of stories, priority and breakdown of task are different and just in time and the backlog should have all the things that are relevant at any point in time. To maintain this dynamic and organic backlog the team needs to clean, update and take care of the product backlog regular. And this is where the grooming part comes in.

What a grooming sessions can be used to.

  • Break down stories in smaller task
  • Estimate backlog items
  • Rewrite stories that need more information
  • Take away stories that are out of date
  • Make sure (with the PO) that priority is right.

To make this work is it important to plan time in for this activity (5-10 percent is a good rule), even if you may not need to do it every sprint it is better to plan for it ahead. Also make sure to keep this meeting as short as possible and try to get as many team members to participate. If you can´t get the whole team, it´s okay but the product owner should participate. Everyone should be prepared and focused on the grooming process.

This technique shouldn’t affect the teams output negative, instead, if done right it should help the team to perform even better and help the team and product owner to guild the right things in the right way.

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Thanks to Jimmy Janlén for letting me use his pictures from Agile Topics Cards.

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