Product Backlog: Ultimate Guide to Product Backlog

Ultimate Guide to Product Backlog

Product backlog, and product grooming

What is Product Backlog?
Product Backlog is a list of priority items in a project. This list consists of high priority items at the top and low priority items at the bottom. It is one of the three main artifacts that make Agile Development. With the help of product backlog, product owners create a prioritized list of features known as ‘User Stories’. This list can further evolve according to the situation. This product backlog can contain function requirements, non-function requirements, engineering requirements, and any feedback that you get from the stakeholders. Thus, product backlog is configured considering the vision of a product.

Agile Development (Scrum) favors the short succinct proclamation that represents the quintessence of a “necessity”. A product backlog is configured of following components:
• ŸKnowledge acquisition
• Features
• Errors and problems
• Technical Work

Release Backlog
A subset of product backlogs is the release backlog. A release backlog consists of a list of minimum features that are required for the product to go into the market. You can think of it as a minimum eligibility criteria list for a product before releasing it. Depending on the specific needs of your organization, release backlogs can get ready within a range of few months to a year.

Sprint Backlog
A subset of release backlog is the sprint backlog. If you are a product owner, you will have the responsibility to supervise the manufacturing of the product. You will hold a meeting of the marketing team, domain experts, and other managing directors. The sprint backlog will be derived from the product requirements put forward by the team that you called.

When should be Product Backlog Re-Prioritized?
The team of stakeholders develops a vision for the product. From this vision, further requirements go into the product backlog. You will then give a business value to each of these requirements. These requirements will be very high-level requirements definitely. Once you will come up with a list of assets to assemble product backlog items. After this, you will identify your release backlog. Once you are through with this step, you will report to the scrum team. You will explain them the high-level requirements of the sprint backlog. The team will select appropriate requirements, and they will start the process of refining it even further. During the refining, they may include engineering requirements and other essential processes that are important to modify the release backlog. This will change the release backlog depending on customer priority, implementation difficulty, urgency of feedback, and other crucial factors

How to Write Product Backlog
Many people use ‘Story Cards’ in the industry. Users of the product write these story cards. These cards are comprised of description defining the features of the product. These descriptions are the result of the perception of the particular user. The format of a user story is; as a, I want so that

could be fulfilled.

The important concept when writing a user story is that you are able to slice the requirement vertically. This step will ensure a demonstrable output at the end of the script. As your product keeps maturing, you will start receiving numerous feedbacks from the customers. It may become very difficult to prioritize items on the product backlog immediately. This is why experts divide feedbacks into three main stages

• Raw Feedback: This is the category that you can keep vaguely
• Prioritized Feedback: This is the category that you can use to eliminate some of the raw feedbacks. You can select a few of these that you consider as valid for the vision of your product
• Moving to the Product Backlog: On this stage, you can move vivid feedbacks to the backlog

These stages will help you to maintain your product backlog.

Product Backlog Grooming
A backlog requires maintenance and consideration. During the initiation stage, the Scrum Team and Product owner begin by conceptualizing and recording all the points that they consider important. A product backlog requires consistent changes such as adding and portraying new things, changing or discarding existing things, and the process of re-evaluating passages.

While utilizing the Scrum Framework, it is essential to save 10% of the Scrum Team’s aggregate time for Product backlog’s maintenance.
A well-maintained backlog can solve many problems. Back in old days, the product backlog was just a list of things that the scrum team kept remembering. The firms and industries soon realized the importance of grooming the product backlog.

Grooming a product backlog involves a handful of separate actions. Firstly, new items can be added to the product backlog. Usually, the product owners and the scrum team are responsible for this. The product owners would require a rough estimate of time from the team. This rough estimate of time is the time needed to prepare that item. If it is not going to take longer to develop, the product owner may want it immediately. If that item will take a long time to develop, they will move ahead on the list.

Secondly, the step of re-prioritizing product backlog follows. Sometimes, an angry customer may demand some features. In such situations, that particular feature is moved up and given the preference. Thirdly, the action of splitting larger backlog items into smaller ones comes into play. As the items near to the top of the backlog, it is important for it to be small enough so the team can finish it in a single sprint. Therefore, this part of backlog grooming involves the discussion of how to minimize the technical efforts required completing the task.

How to Estimate Product Backlog?
Estimating a product backlog is part of the release planning process. A product backlog is a repository of everything that the product owner would like to have created. Experts commonly used two different ways for estimating their product backlogs.

The first method is called estimation by analogy. It is an important technique that you can rely on when finding real estimates. In this method, you can compare the thing being estimated to some other thing. You might, for example, compare the time of reading a book with another if you know the size and time taken to complete the book. You can recall how long it took you to complete a specific book, and then you can increase or decrease that amount of time by considering the size of the book that is to be estimated.

Another technique is the precise calculation. You can first think about the size of the work, estimate your pace through the work, and then divide to come up with the precise estimate of the duration. Both of the methods work great if done with extreme precision.

Some Useful Tips:
Maintaining a product backlog is not as simple as it looks. Many Scrum teams and product owners struggle with details and features of the backlogs. These vital tips will help you deal with product backlogs proficiently.

• Make a blueprint for product backlogs and implement on it
• Prioritize your backlog considering next product launch
• Work with the development team
• Keep your backlog simple to read
• Do not only rely on user stories. Think outside the box yourself.

Agile Project Management with Scrum

Before we get into the discussion of how agile project management works we need to first figure out what Agile management basically is. Agile management is related to planning and conducting different projects and the processes that are involved in that particular project. Agile project management is most likely related to the agile software development. However, the agile project management is wrapped up by taking small baby steps. All the steps that are involved in order to complete a specific project are being analyzed and evaluated by the members of the project at all times. After analyzing particular step results are given and the next step of the project is decided. All the projects related to agile management are to be completed within a time span of one to two weeks.

Although there are different types of agile management, we will be discussing the agile project management with scrum. Talking about scrum, it is considered to be the foundation of agile projects and is mainly used for the completion of complicated projects. At first, it was only used in the field of software development but later on people used it for complex projects as well.

Scrum has its importance mostly in agile project management. Scrum does not only handle simple projects but can also take up complex and difficult projects. Although scrum comes under the heading of agile as it is the simpler and most accurate and faster version of agile.   When an agile project is being managed with Scrum, three people look after the project and they include:

  • Product owner
  • Scrum master
  • Project team

The product owner is responsible for all the business related decisions and conditions. His/her duties include:

  • Building the product perfectly
  • Should be able to balance challenging priority
  • Should be a call away to all the team members
  • Should be able to make just decisions related to the project

Secondly, the scrum master acts as the head of the team. He helps all the people working on the project, enables and ensures a good working environment. The duties of a scrum master are as under:

  • Being available for the team members
  • Ensuring proper services to the team members
  • Eliminating any confusions or problems faced while working on the project
  • Conducting meetings
  • Promoting teamwork
  • Should keep track of the work being done related to the project

The last and most important part of a Scrum agile project is, the team members involved in working for the completion of the project. The team is responsible for making a perfect outcome of the project given to them. Following are the duties of the team members:

  • Steps to take in order to complete the project
  • Make plans to achieve the goal
  • Decide who can work on what part of the project

The difference between simple agile project management and scrum agile management is that in the case of simple agile projects, the work is divided among a number of different people however in scrum agile projects the work is divided among 3 groups as mentioned above and these three people are responsible for the project. The projects take less time to complete in scrum agile projects as compared to the simple agile project management processes.

If anybody is looking forward to getting their projects completed in less time and with more accuracy should definitely consider agile project management with scrum. As it is the best and fastest service they can ever get. A number of people have chosen and are taking up scrum agile management for their projects and are loving the Scrum way.

User Stories: How user stories will help you in your agile development

User Story (Agile development)

User Story (Agile development)

 

What is a user story in agile?

User stories are basically part of agile development in which the focus is on discussing the problem rather than writing about it. User stories include writing the sentence and more important conversations about the desired functionality. This is a simple and short description of a certain feature from the perspective of a client, user or customer. In short, user stories are high level and slim requirements artifacts.

User story writing

As user stories can be written in varying levels of detail, it is easy to cover a large amount of functionality. For example, from a desktop backup product perspective, user story can be

  • As a user, I can specify the files to backup based on the date modified, created and file size.

Who writes user stories?

User stories can be written by anyone. Although it is important for the product owner to add the user stories this doesn’t mean that he is the one who writes them. For an effective development of the product, user stories can play a vital role and for a good agile product, you should expect to have a user story examples that are written by each team member.

How to add details in user stories?

There are two ways to add specific details in user stories. One is to split the story into multiple and short parts and other is to add the conditions of satisfaction. When there is a large user story it is recommended to split it into short parts. This helps the developer to understand the requirements easily and effectively. It is also natural to assume in this way that the details have been added. The other way of adding details is a high-level acceptance test. This test has to be true after the agile user story is complete. For example, if a marketing user asks to choose a holiday season by reviewing the performance of past advertisements then such conditions should be fulfilled for the satisfaction of the customer.

When to write user story:

User stories can be written throughout the agile project. Usually, it is written at the start of the project but the user can add them over the course of the project. The reason for this is that with the passage of time, functionality and requirements can change. Some of the user stories in agile projects are Epics. These epic stories are later divided into smaller parts to help the developer in understanding the requirements. Additionally, the user stories can be written by anyone and at any time and can be added to the product backlog.

Epics (what are epic user stories?):

              Epic stories are basically large user stories. These user stories are too big to be implemented in a single iteration. That is why they are reorganized into smaller parts. This increases the overall efficiency and productivity from the developer’s end.

Themes:

These are basically a collection of related user stories. For example, for a university registration system, the attributes remain the same for every university. There can be a change of functionality but attributes are generally same. Themes are used to organize the stories into release and by organizing the stories it helps the sub-teams to work upon them.

Techniques to write user stories.

To create user stories there is an INVEST rule that is usually implemented. By invest, we mean Independent, Negotiable, Valuable, Estimable, Small and Testable. These are the features of the user stories that have to be considered while writing a user story. In most of the user stories, you will find that INVEST rule is followed very well.

Agile method online mobile app – version 1 is published on play store

Today is the day.

We are publishing our first agile method online app to play store.

The idea is very simple and straight forward. The only feature it has at the moment is.

  • Upon your selection, It will display a big number in the middle of the screen. when you want to show your teammates, how many points you are estimating for a user story.
agile user story points 21

story points estimated as 21

  • By default, it will display 1 point.

The reason behind this app creation is, ever since we adopted agile development in our projects we often use the relative points to estimate a user story on how long it takes to develop a feature.

we often use the relative points(mostly Fibonacci’s sequence) to estimate a user story on how long it takes to develop a feature. By using hands.

Sometimes it can be challenging to show a number 13 or 21 or greater that, So we created this app.

To display the points on your screen.

Hope you like it and enjoy its new feature.

Please leave a feedback on how you like it.

How to give story points in agile development

 

scrum story points example

scrum story points example

Agile story estimations

STORY POINTS:

Story points are the measuring unit.
 
These points help to estimate an effort or build a product.
 
These points in overall required for the complete implementation of a product accumulation or some other work.
As the story points represent the efforts done for the story development.
 
The team must keep an eye on the issues that may affect the efforts.
 
The amount of work, complications, and hurdles in work and the risks during the work may include in this issues.

SUCCESSFUL AGILE STORY ESTIMATIONS:

For the successful story estimation, there are certain key points that may have to be followed by the team.

  • Recognize Conceptual structure of the story: Recognizing the conceptual structure of the story that may be more than one referencing story is an essential part. Against which one would do the considerable sizing of the accumulation. The story has to be picked from the current product accumulation or the other story that has been done before. An essential thing is that every team member must understand the conceptual story and should be confident about it.
  • Requirements of the story:  the owner of the product would be explaining the requirements of a story and the questions would also be answered by the product owner.
  • Important things must be discussed and registered before story implementation: before the story implementation, the story estimation team may importantly discuss the important things that must be remembered before story implementation. To keep these things in mind the scrum master could write them down and discuss thoroughly with the team.

AGILE PROJECT DEVELOPMENT:

Opportunities to evaluate the project direction throughout the cycle of development is provided by the agile development methodology.
 
The regular tempo of work helps in achieving this. It is known as iterations.
 
After the iterations finish the estimating team must provide the ready to ship products.
 
Focused repetition of the work cycle and the output of the functional product, the agile developing methodology is narrated as the “incremental”.
Companies seek help from agile project development in building the correct product.
 
Rather than executing a piece of software to the market that may not have been written.
 
Teams are empowered by the agile methodology to develop their features, again and again, plan and replan their release.
 
The reason is for the advancement of its value from beginning to end in the development.
 
Projects that are developed through agile methodology upholds the critical importance of the product in the market.

AGILE STORY POINTS:

The irrational measurement used by the scrum team is known as a story point.
 
A story point is used for measuring the efforts.
 
Relative points are required for the implementation of the story.
 
In simple means, Agile project development team is told the hardships of the story by the story points.
 
Difficulties, hurdles, and risks in the story refer to the hardship.
 
Chosen by the agile project development team, story point would mean differently for every team
 
If the same story is issued to two different agile development teams, depending on the numbers chosen by the teams, the velocity may differ from each other.
 
For example, one team says their velocity is 45 while the other agile development team would tell 15 as their velocity.

PLANNING POKER:

Planning poker also commonly known as scrum poker is a type of estimation technique for planning and estimating the agile points.
 
But the planning poker is based on consensus.
 
The owner of the product or the customer of the product reads the story of an agile user or the features is described by them to the estimators for starting a session of poker planning.
 
The repetition of the process of planning poker continues till the achievement of consensus.

Episode 003

Retrospective.

 

 

Agile Retrospective: The Ultimate guide for Retrospective

In this post you will learn about what is retrospective, why do we do retrospect and what are the benefits of the retrospective.

 Contents:

  1. What is sprint retrospective
  2. Why do we need sprint retrospective
  3. Who should participate in a retrospective?
  4. Agile retrospective in a nutshell
  5. What are the techniques that can be used?
  6. Tips to run an effective retrospective

First thing first.

What is a Sprint Retrospective?

Agile is all about improvement and adaptation. But how do we know what to improve and what is lacking? This is where agile uses retrospective meetings. It’s a ceremony which needs extreme planning.

Retrospectives are very important part of the agile projects. What they do is process improvement.

Why Do We Retrospect?

There is no specific research that provides the data. But most of the managers discovered/noticed when they do retrospectives. There is a huge change in,

  • Team productivity improves
  • Team member capability improves
  • Product quality improves
  • Team capacity improves
  • Collaboration skills gets better

Who should participate in a retrospective?

Typically the participants should be.

  • The team
  • The facilitator/ Scrum Master
  • And ideally product owner/business subject matter expert would also be at the retrospective. But this is not always the case.

Agile Retrospective In a Nutshell

In a nutshell, agile retrospective gives the team an opportunity at the end of the sprint to take a look back at the sprint just ended and determine

  • what went well
  • what problems they may have had
  • How the is team improved in those areas?

But before we start the retrospective meeting, the first thing that needs to happen is to recollection.

It’s hard to remember all the details of what happened in the last couple of weeks.

Here are some more valuable questions to ask and get the conversation going.

  • What helps you to be successful as a team?
  • How did you do the sprint?
  • Where and when I went wrong in this sprint
  • What did you expect, from who?
  • Which tools or techniques worked well and which or not.
  • What is your biggest blocker Impediment
  • Which things went smoothly and which didn’t?

Pick the right ones for your team/sprint to get the better insights on urgent needs and improvements.

There is also a 5 why’s  way:

For example, you can get the most value out of a question by asking 5 why’s. Below on that.

  • Why did you do this way?
  • Why did this work for you?
  • Why do consider something to be important?
  • Why do you feel this way?
  • Why did you decide to work together on this?

This is a great follow-up question strategy, it helps you and your team to better understand the issue that you are solving.

What techniques can you use?

Technique 1:

A lot of scrum masters use methods from a book called Agile retrospectives from Diana Larsen And Ester Derby.

They created a flexible, scalable framework for the agile retrospective for designing a retrospective.

In this book, the author highlights 5 key areas or 5 steps that you walk through.

  • Setting the stage
  • Gathering data
  • Generate Insights
  • Decide what to do
  • Closing
  1. Setting the stage:

    Setting the stage – implies in the name itself, setting up the stage :).
    It gives the coach or the facilitator an opportunity to present what technique is going to be used.
     
    It also gives an opportunity to get the team, to get comfortable and create a safe environment to have a retrospective.
     
    A good example would be asking each individual to give two words on how they are feeling about the past sprint.
  2. Gathering the data:

    At this stage we look at, how do we generate ideas about what happened.
     
    This is like a brainstorming time. The more ideas the better.
     
    One example or one activity that they call in the book is,
     
    Let’s look at what happened in the last sprint and write it down on post-its.
     
    It does not matter what it is, the good thing, the bad thing or any ugly thing. It just gives a lot of data points to start with.
     
    Don’t look for quality data at this phase yet. Just need a lot of data points to talk through.
  3. Generate Insights:

    Now that we have plenty of data from the previous phase, we can analyze the data and get some answers for that data.
     
    At this stage, you can do plenty of analysis like root cause analysis and etc.
  4. Decide what to do:

    This is where, As a team we decide to come up with what they want to do and what are the action items to improve the process.

Technique 2

One other technique I have seen Scrum masters using is silent writing. Give the team post it’s and let them write on things they thought went well in the sprint and things the team like to change.

Tips to run an effective retrospective

  • Select a person to take notes. The reason is to make sure someone is always taking notes.
  • Follow up on the notes that have taken in past or the current retrospective.
  • Dedicate time block for a retrospective. Don’t block this time in between meetings. Agile is all about growing as a team, sprint retrospectives give the opportunity to get a dedicated time to reflect and grow as a team.
  • Make sure everyone understands about this meeting and contributes to this meeting.

Before I go. Let me know, what you think of this post and techniques discussed in this post.

Do you know any other technique that you use at your workplace?

episode001

In this episode marc and I talked about how we can be a good scrum master as a developer.

 

 

Introduction to Agile Method

In this episode, Marc and I tried to introduce our self’s. Went over what we wanted to do.

How we want to do this podcast. And how often we want to do this podcast.

 

We also went into little details about scrum and stand up’s. Don’t forget to listen till the end since we got a little nugget at the end.

Please listen to it and comment below about what you think about it.