what is backlog

Backlogs can be used in any type of project, whether they are short-term projects or long-term initiatives. The dynamic nature of a product backlog provides teams a way to manage their learning about the desired outcome and potential ways to deliver that outcome. The product backlog does not need to be complete when a team starts work, so the team can start with an initial idea and add new product backlog items as they learn more.

  • At the end of each sprint, the product owner and any stakeholders can attend a sprint review with you and the development team to ensure everything is on track.
  • Once you’ve created these tasks, you may list them in order of priority with the most critical tasks at the top of the backlog and the least critical tasks at the bottom.
  • Including them on a product backlog also allows teams to better track all defects and bugs throughout the software development process.

Essentially, a road map is your team’s strategy, and the backlog is the steps you are going to take to implement it. If a great idea is added to the bottom of a backlog of thousands, who will ever see it? Again, keeping a lean backlog (and limiting the number of sub-backlogs) can prevent this problem from ever rearing its head. Sometimes, what seems like a solid, carefully considered idea to one person, may not make much sense to another.

Tackle complex tasks first

Depending on a company’s particular process, the product owner may involve other team members when planning and updating a backlog throughout a software development process. Backlog grooming, also known as backlog refinement or backlog management, is a session where the project manager and their team members review the existing backlog. Difference between Tangible and Intangible Assets With Examples During the session, they ensure the backlog contains relevant and appropriate tasks that are prioritized correctly. This causes tasks to become lost, meaning the team won’t be able to complete them on time. Similarly, when there are too many tasks in a backlog, they can become unfocused and stray from the original goals of the project.

The product backlog is a container for work you think you will do in the future to keep your product competitive. It is the output of the product owner in collaboration with stakeholders (customers, the team, analysts). It will change frequently, with items being added or taken out on a regular basis. It will also have items with a mix of granularity; with fewer items broken down below the user story level.

What is a backlog?

You can run a planning poker session by using cut out cards or by using Parabol’s free Sprint Poker tool that will guide you through every step of the process. T-shirt sizing gives teams the opportunity to break L or XL projects down into smaller and more manageable parts that are good candidates for the Sprint. The second example is completely disconnected from the user experience. It doesn’t give the team context for why that development work is important or what it delivers for users. The first example is framed in user-focused language which helps the team see the value of what they will build.

Because these groups can sometimes be siloed, the backlog becomes the connective tissue for the whole project and gives everyone an opportunity to view the complete vision. These will vary in complexity, but owners will need to elaborate on them as they approach the top of the list and become action items. Find out how to create agile boards in Jira software with this step-by-step guide. With end of support for our Server products fast approaching, create a winning plan for your Cloud migration with the Atlassian Migration Program. Typically, this level of production is right in line with the demand for the company’s shirts, as it receives approximately 1,000 daily orders.

what is backlog

You’re even able to go around corners and tackle some unexpected bumps at speed. Refinement helps teams shape-up well-sized, detailed and discrete pieces of work that can be tackled in future Sprints. To help you out, we’re going to cover almost everything you need to know about backlog refinement. So whether you’re a seasoned refiner or a rookie, there’s something here for you. The reason is that the shape should be informed by the product as well as the processes and needs of the team creating it and committing to it.

User Stories

Product backlogs are often a visual representation of the development process. This allows all team members to form a mutual understanding of a project’s current status and the tasks they still need to complete. When team members align their expectations through a single resource, they may be able to work more cohesively toward a common goal. Developers may add tasks to the bottom of a product backlog before they’re ready for completion so teams can prepare beforehand. Product backlogs can be a great way to facilitate discussion amongst team members for upcoming tasks of high complexity or scale. They can also help teams identify any potential issues before implementing a new feature or update.

If one task is harder than another, the harder one is a higher priority as it will take longer to complete. All this information goes into the spring backlog, which team members then use as a to-do list of sorts throughout the project. Another example of backlogging is if a manufacturer receives an order that exceeds its current production abilities. Note that backlogging can also refer to a more general buildup of tasks in different industries. Backlogs are common in the finance and accounting sectors, as these professionals may acquire a large pile of paperwork like loan applications that are due for processing.

  • As a rule, your product backlog should be closely aligned to your product roadmap.
  • With random items, no one will ever actually prioritize development and fragmented thoughts so inarticulate the team can’t even remember why they’re in there.
  • Estimation is important because it helps teams make sure they are taking a reasonable amount of work on in each Sprint.
  • Because the company is receiving more orders each day than it has the capacity to fill, its backlog grows by 1,000 shirts per day until it raises production to meet the increased demand.

Quick iterations and deployment of new functionality and enhancements keep the focus squarely on delighting customers. And despite that, it’s still one of the most crucial parts of the agile process. During Sprint Planning, the team will take the items at the top of the Product Backlog and move them into the Sprint Backlog to be worked on during the upcoming Sprint. Some people may have additional knowledge about a specific type of problem or the code base that others don’t, which makes this a great opportunity to share information.

Why should you use backlogs to manage your project?

Effective backlog management can prevent the buildup of technical debt. When your team stays organized and takes on technical work in smaller, daily increments, you’re less likely to accrue interest on a huge piece of work. After fully understanding the client’s request, consider categorizing the idea into individual and actionable tasks for the development team to complete. Once you’ve created these tasks, you may list them in order of priority with the most critical tasks at the top of the backlog and the least critical tasks at the bottom. If tasks don’t directly contribute to the success of the addition or fix, you may omit them from the backlog entirely.

For example, a rising backlog of product orders might indicate rising sales. On the other hand, companies generally want to avoid having a backlog as it could suggest increasing inefficiency in the production process. Likewise, a falling backlog might be a portentous sign of lagging demand but may also signify improving production efficiency. Naturally, unexpected backlogs can compromise forecasts and production schedules. The term backlog is used to indicate the existing workload that exceeds the production capacity of a firm or department, often used in construction or manufacturing. Agile’s primary strengths lie in rapidly delivering value to customers.

Articles Related to backlog

The product backlog is the long-term plan for the product, where the vision is itemized into concrete deliverable items that make the product more valuable. Ideally, this is true; the sprint backlog consists solely of items from the product backlog. In practice, however, a sprint backlog will include other work the team has committed to. An essential component of managing the product backlog is prioritizing tasks. As the Scrum master, you should have a thorough understanding of what new features stakeholders want to see in the product. Your team should create a roadmap first, which will then serve as the action plan for how your product will change as it develops.

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But for PMs to successfully bring products to market, their plans and goals translate into task-level details and where the backlog comes in. The contents of a backlog are user stories, bug fixes, features, changes- infrastructural or functional, or other necessities and tasks involved in a project or sprint. A Backlog is a list of all the sub-tasks or smaller tasks in a project curated on the basis of priority. The backlog list is prepared from the roadmap and requirements of the project. In Agile development, a product backlog is a prioritized list of deliverables (such as new features) that should be implemented as part of a project or product development. You create a product backlog from the product roadmap, which explains the plan of action for the product’s evolution.

When you have an anchor document to facilitate these cross-functional alignment discussions, it is yet another reason that every product team should develop and maintain a backlog. If the backlog grows too large or lacks any consistent, coherent organization, it can quickly shift from a valuable resource to an unsalvageable mess. Great ideas, key customer requests, and crucial technical debt issues carry equal weight. With random items, no one will ever actually prioritize development and fragmented thoughts so inarticulate the team can’t even remember why they’re in there. The excellent repository becomes a giant junk drawer no one can make sense of or has the time and motivation for either.