The Agile Product Backlog For Product Owners

The Product Backlog is a list of the items that need to be developed and changes that need to be made to a product, specified in order of priority. It can include anything from new features to bug fixes to platform improvements. The content and prioritization of this list are the responsibility of the Product Owner, and it is something that evolves over time as work is completed and new requirements are added.

Properties of the Product Backlog

One of the key elements of the Product Backlog is that it must be the single source of truth that the team can refer to. This is why it is vital that it is regularly maintained and kept up to date, and that it doesn’t become cluttered with items that are no longer required.

Another important attribute of the Product Backlog is that each item is given an adequate level of corresponding details relevant to its priority. This means that the features that are at the top of the list should be sufficiently specified to be able to be used for planning and estimation, while those that are of a lower priority need not have as much information, as this might end up being wasted effort if the requirement is never planned for delivery.

Last but not least, although the Product Backlog should be put together and updated collaboratively, and it should be visible to all stakeholders, it remains solely and fully under the ownership of the Product Owner, and any decisions about ordering or content must always be ultimately taken by the person performing this role.

Backlog Prioritization

Backlog prioritization, also known as Product Backlog refinement, is the process of cleaning up the list of requirements and ensuring that everything in it reflects the current reality and state of the changes that need to be made to the product. It usually involves a collaborative session between the Product Owner and the Scrum team, and occasionally other stakeholders. During this session, the participants will discuss the current position of the list and work through various questions that may arise. This meeting doesn’t have to have a formal structure; in fact, different aspects may be addressed at different sessions, depending on what is considered the most valuable use of time at that point. For instance, one such meeting might be used to discuss the relative usefulness of particular requirements and a re-ordering of the items as a result. The following meeting might then be used to delve deeper into some of the user stories, and potentially decide to break some of them up if they are considered too complex to be completed within a single sprint.  

The backlog prioritization meeting serves as preparation for sprint planning. By dealing with questions that may arise before the sprint planning meeting, the intention is that any issues and inconsistencies are clarified ahead of time, thereby reducing the load when it comes to planning. Besides the reduction in time at the planning meeting itself, it also gives the opportunity for the team to spot any missing information that still needs to be gathered, and it allows that data to be retrieved beforehand, rather than only being noticed during the planning and therefore causing further delay.

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Our Book Recommendations

We found these books great for finding out more information on Agile Scrum:

Master of Agile – Scrum Product Owner With 59 Seconds Agile (Video Training Course)

Introductory Offer: Free Course

What is this course?

This ‘Master of Agile – Scrum Product Owner With 59 Seconds Agile (Video Training Course)’ provides an in-depth understanding of the Scrum Product Owner roles and responsibilities

You will explore the Agile Scrum project life-cycle, including how an Agile User Story is created, to how we know when it is ‘done’

This course is aimed at those with or without prior knowledge and experience of the Agile values and principles

During this course you will learn the tools needed to succeed as a Scrum Product Owner

What will you learn?

You will gain an in-depth understanding of the Scrum Product Owner roles and responsibilities, and you will be able to

  • Fully understand the role of the Scrum Product Owner
  • Understand the roles involved in an Agile project
  • Create an effective Product Backlog
  • Effectively participate in Scrum Meetings such as the Daily Stand-up, Sprint Review and Retrospective
  • Identify the roles involves in the Scrum Team

What topics are covered within this course?

You will cover the following topics during this course:

  1. An Introduction to Agile Project Management (Product Owner)
  2. The 12 Agile Principles (Product Owner)
  3. The Declaration of Interdependence (Product Owner)
  4. Introduction to Scrum (Product Owner)
  5. Scrum Project Roles (Product Owner)
  6. The Agile Project Life-cycle (Product Owner)
  7. Acceptance Criteria and the Prioritised Product Backlog (Product Owner)
  8. Epics and Personas (Product Owner)
  9. Sprint Planning (Product Owner)
  10. User Stories (Product Owner)
  11. The Daily Scrum (Product Owner)
  12. The Product Backlog (Product Owner)
  13. Scrum Charts (Product Owner)
  14. Review and Retrospective (Product Owner)
  15. Validating a Sprint (Product Owner)
  16. Releasing the Product (Product Owner)