If you do not say the words "Backlog Grooming" at least five times a week, you are not a cool product manager. Just kidding.
Many companies think to have mastered the art of backlog grooming. However, few have understood it and reaped its benefits. Today, I share thoughts on what is backlog grooming, why is it essential, and how to do it effectively.
What is it:
Backlog, in simple terms, is a list of product features that you need to build to achieve product vision. Grooming, in this context, is the process of regularly refining, pruning and prioritizing your backlog.
Why is it essential:
The backlog communicates product priorities across the organization. Good backlogs are broad enough to capture new ideas. But, they are specific enough for engineers to plan the next sprint.
How to do it effectively:
- Always keep the top priority items on the top. When the backlog gets large, group the backlog into near-term and long-term items.
- Groom at least once before a new sprint. I schedule two-hour meetings. But, this can be different for different teams. Work with engineers to decide the best duration for your team.
- Include all relevant leaders in the meetings. Encourage them to share their opinions and to agree or disagree with your prioritization decisions.
- Follow a set agenda for each meeting. My discussions include, but are not limited to:
- Deciding the priority of each item and the reason for selecting that priority.
- Creating dev estimates for prioritized items, including bugs and fixes.
- Clarifying details for more complex features
- Identifying risks, blockers and dependencies, if any.
- Removing redundant items from the list
- Define detailed requirements and acceptance criteria for prioritized items.