What is Backlog Grooming?

Written by
Leonardo Vezzati
Co-founder & COO
Back to basics

Backlog Grooming: Keeping Your Product Development on Track

What is Backlog Grooming?

Backlog grooming is a regular meeting where product managers, product owners, and team members collaborate to discuss, review, and prioritize items in the product backlog. This process ensures the backlog stays up-to-date and prepared for upcoming development sprints. It also allows product managers to explain and align the organization with the strategy behind the backlog items.

Benefits of Backlog Grooming:

  • Maintains a clean and manageable backlog: Regular grooming prevents the backlog from becoming cluttered with outdated or irrelevant items, making it easier for the team to navigate and contribute efficiently.
  • Ensures backlog relevance: Backlog grooming guarantees that the backlog reflects current needs and priorities, focusing on initiatives that are relevant, well-documented, and aligned with customer and organizational goals.
  • Improves team communication: A refined backlog fosters clear communication across teams, preventing ambiguity and miscommunication that can lead to bad product decisions.
  • Boosts work velocity: A well-groomed backlog empowers the team to deliver features faster by reducing planning time and enhancing overall productivity.

Who's Involved?

  • Backlog Owner: Typically the product manager or product owner leads the session and ensures smooth execution.
  • Facilitator: While not mandatory, project managers, Scrum Masters, or other team members can facilitate the session depending on the organization's structure.
  • Core Participants:

    - Product representatives
    - Lead engineers
    - Customer success, support, and QA representatives for valuable user insights (you can save precious hours to these teams using a VoC solution like Zefi to extract and share valuable user insights)

Best Practices for Effective Backlog Grooming:

  • DEEP Backlog:

    - Detailed Appropriately:
    Items closer to execution require more detailed understanding, while future items can have less detail.
    - Estimated:
    Top priority items need accurate effort estimates, while lower priority items receive rough estimates due to lower understanding.
    - Emergent:
    The backlog evolves with new user insights, adapting to changing customer needs.
    - Prioritized: Items are ranked based on business value and alignment with strategic goals, with the most valuable prioritized first.

  • Shared Item Qualities:

    - Description:
    The objective of the backlog item.
    - Value:
    The business value assigned by the backlog owner.
    - Order:
    The prioritization level.
    - Estimate:
    The effort required to complete the item, defined by the delivery team.
  • Categorization:

    - Development Backlog:
    Technical tasks and features.
    - Product Backlog:
    Visionary product goals and features.
    - Insights Backlog:
    User feedback, research, and observations.

  • Preparation:
    - Understand the value and alignment of features with the product roadmap and company strategy.
    - Consider stakeholder and customer priorities.

By implementing backlog grooming effectively, you can ensure a well-organized and relevant product backlog, fostering clear communication, increased productivity, and ultimately, a successful product development journey.

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