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Product Backlog Refinement in Action

In Scrum, Product Backlog Refinement is a vital meeting of the Product Proprietor and the Improvement Group to realize readability and a shared understanding of what must be carried out by way of dialogue and sharing of ideas. The next is a guide instance of learn how to run an effective Product Backlog Refinement assembly.

Dramatis Personae:

Steve – a ScrumMaster and the hero of our story
Paula – the Product Proprietor of Steve’s staff

Studying from their current experience with dangerous Consumer Tales, ScrumMaster Steve, Product Owner Paula, and the Improvement Workforce schedule a Product Backlog Refinement assembly, after lunch,[1] to refine the Consumer Tales and talk about them ahead of Dash Planning.

Product Backlog Refinement is generally a meeting the place the Product Proprietor and the Improvement Group talk about the gadgets at the prime of the Product Backlog. This was often known as Product Backlog Grooming, but using the time period ‘grooming’ (to make neat and orderly) is not beneficial. The aim is to ensure that the Product Backlog is obvious and understood by everyone earlier than the Sprint, not just make it look good.

Getting Prepared for Product Backlog Refinement

Paula doesn’t use a formal assembly agenda; as an alternative, she has a rough checklist she shares with the Workforce:

  • Share story stubs[2] or ideas written by herself and rewrite them to be effective Consumer Stories via discussion with the Group
  • Acceptance Criteria for topmost gadgets in the Product Backlog
  • Cut up Consumer Stories which are too giant for his or her present position in the Product Backlog
  • Estimate[3] Cut up Tales
  • Acceptance Standards for newly created Tales
  • Estimate Stories without Estimates
  • Create New Stories based mostly on newly identified Stakeholder wants

Product Backlog Refinement Is All About Discussion and Asking Questions

Scrum by Example: Product Backlog Refinement in Action
Paula and the Group assessment the present state of the Product Backlog. They refine the Consumer Tales by discussing the context for a desired product function and what sort of worth it’s meant to provide the consumer. They comply with this with a discussion about the right way to greatest deliver that worth. This solves the earlier drawback that they had with the Consumer Tales lacking a clearly defined ‘Why’ assertion. It additionally provides the Improvement Staff the wanted context and clarity to offer accurate and useful estimates, since they have now been a part of the dialogue. ScrumMaster Steve’s steerage towards having this backlog refinement session, as an alternative of blindly launching into Dash Planning, has been an enormous help.

The topmost gadgets are estimated by the Improvement Group, appropriately cut up (1, 2, or 3 Story Points in measurement), and have at the least two or three Acceptance Criteria related to them.

But in order for a Consumer Story to be helpful, it should even be specific and targeted. Further down in the Product Backlog there’s a Story: “As a Julia[4] (a Real Estate Agent and Frequent book buyer), I want to be able to buy a gift card to thank a fantastic recent client.” The estimate on this one is 20, so it’s agreed that they should cut up this Consumer Story.

Because the Scrum Staff discusses the Story, they ask Paula a number of questions for clarification:

  • How will the recipient redeem the present card? Paula says: it’s already coated in a later story, which can also be estimated to be 20.
  • Will the present card be printable or just digital? Paula: Electronic for now.
  • Does the Story embrace delivering the Present Card?  Paula: Sure, by e mail.
  • Are fancy graphics and clever messaging essential? Paula: Yes, however in the primary model, it will be okay to do without them.
  • What present card quantities are supported? Paula: $10, $25, $50 and $100.
  • Are present cards refillable, or one-time use? Undecided.

From this discussion, they create some new Stories and estimate them:

  • As a Julia, I would like to have the ability to buy a $10 present card in order that I can thank a unbelievable shopper. Limitation – not delivered just generated – Estimate: 5 points
  • As a Julia, I would like my newly bought present card despatched by e mail to its recipient in order that they will use it instantly. – Estimate: 13 factors
  • As a Julia, I would like to be able to refill a gift card I beforehand bought. – Estimate: 8 factors
  • As a Julia, I would like to have the ability to purchase a gift card in denominations of $25, $50, and $100 in order that I have decisions in how much money I need to spend. – Estimate: 13 factors
  • As a Julia, I would like fancy graphics and textual content on my present card to fulfill my inside diva. – Estimate: 8 points

On seeing that refillable present playing cards will value 8 Story Factors, Paula says, “That’s expensive for the value I get,” and pushes it down in precedence. She additionally sees that the mixed value of the $10 present card Story and the choice denominations present card Story is 18 Story Points – fairly giant. She asks the Workforce if it might be cheaper to do present cards with any amount. They come again with an estimate of eight, stating that it’s still more complicated than the essential Story.

They create a new Story, sized 8, and transfer onto establishing some primary acceptance standards:

Primary “Buy Gift Card” Story

  • Worth Vary $5 – 100
  • Tax not charged to present card buyer
  • Receipt displayed
  • Present card displayed in buyer’s order historical past

Primary “Send Gift Card” Story

  • Get a pal’s e mail handle
  • Assume legitimate e-mail and don’t do checking – shall be handled later
  • Ship Present Card by way of e-mail
  • Text-only present card

“Fancy Text and Graphics” Story

  • Appears good in the browser when the customer sees it
  • Seems the same in: Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail, iPad, iPhone, Android telephone

All of this discussion leads Paula to understand that with the ability to use a gift card is as necessary as shopping for one. In consequence, the Staff repeats the whole exercise for the Story to “Use a gift card.”

They wrap up the session by discussing the wants of latest publishers who Paula is speaking to about promoting their merchandise via the bookstore. They outline the tough concept of some Tales to help this need however don’t hassle estimating them, because the talks with the publisher are still in their early levels. They will broaden and refine them in a future Product Backlog Refinement session if the necessity arises, moderately than spending time unnecessarily speculating now.

How you can Have an Effective Product Backlog Refinement Meeting

Product Backlog Refinement is intended to help your workforce clearly understand the Product Backlog and the Consumer Tales in it. To make sure you will all the time have a successful assembly, there are three outcomes I recommend that new ScrumMasters goal for:

  1. Larger Understanding – Merely telling individuals you need something built will probably end result in you not getting what you envision. As an alternative, begin with a collaborative mindset that is targeted on partaking the Staff and Product Owner, and refining Consumer Tales based mostly on a shared understanding of what perform they’re meant to ship, who it’s meant to help, and why it’s necessary.
  2. Higher Acutely aware Engagement – If you’re involved in making a Consumer Story, you get to feel a sense of possession of the product. In consequence, you’re more likely to be motivated to interact in attending to “done.”
  3. Higher Unconscious Engagement – Our subconscious does a superb job of generating connections and seeing relationships between issues. Nevertheless, it really works by itself schedule, typically slowly. Ideally, it is best to have a number of days separating Backlog Refinement and Dash Planning, allowing everyone to see the Consumer Stories several occasions (maybe on an enormous whiteboard on the entrance of the room) earlier than Sprint Planning, giving everybody’s brain time to make connections between seeing the Story after which making an attempt to plan for it.

In addition to benefiting the Group and the Product Owner, you’ll probably find that you simply improve your personal understanding as a ScrumMaster of the Product Backlog and what might be developed within an inexpensive period of time.

Product Backlog Refinement is an important part of Scrum. It increases the effectiveness and communication of your complete Scrum Staff and, consequently, builds a better product in your shopper.

Do you need to coach your workforce in the direction of higher solutions?

The WorldsSmallestOnlineBookStore.com Group went from dealing with ineffective Consumer Tales, to having a productive Backlog Refinement session and a clear path for the subsequent Sprint. This was largely on account of ScrumMaster Steve figuring out the challenge and coaching everyone toward an answer that they might apply collaboratively, which improved communication between Product Owner Paula and the Staff. If you need to discover ways to handle some of these widespread, real-life issues that organizations face in their Scrum evolution, think about attending considered one of our workshops, the place you’ll obtain hands-on learning of the challenges – and options – and recommendations on find out how to integrate them into your Scrum.

Scrum by Example is a narrative-style weblog collection designed to help individuals new to Scrum, particularly new ScrumMasters. In case you are new to the collection, we advocate you take a look at the introduction to study extra concerning the collection and discover different useful articles.


[1] Many developers complain that Backlog Refinement interrupts them doing priceless work. We sidestep that drawback if scheduled proper after lunch or at another time once they’ve already been interrupted. Key point: determine the time with the group.

[2] Mark’s notice: It’s strongly really helpful that the Product Owner not show up at Product Backlog Refinement with ready Consumer Tales. My private experience is that group members see these things as full/right and it kills further dialogue on them. It’s a lot better to convey tough ideas to the session and work with the staff to make them real Consumer Tales.

[3] Caveat: Scrum works perfectly nicely in an surroundings the place the Improvement Group doesn’t estimate – in that case, they will skip the estimation portion of refinement. You’d additionally anticipate a Workforce that wasn’t estimating to place more effort into splitting Gadgets on the prime of the Product Backlog in order that they’re approximately the identical measurement.

[4] With a purpose to better perceive totally different kinds of end customers, these engaged on WorldsSmallestOnlineBookStore.com have started using Personas to provide a richer description of each. In this case, the relevant persona is understood by the identify  “Julia.” Two things matter in this context: she is a frequent e-book buyer and consumer of the location, and she or he provides her actual property shoppers present playing cards to thank them for their enterprise.