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.