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Product Backlog Refinement

A meeting that is held close to the conclusion of one sprint to make sure the backlog is prepared for the following sprint was previously referred to as “backlog grooming” in relation to maintaining the product backlog’s cleanliness and order.

Three days before to the conclusion of the current sprint, I prefer to have meetings to refine the product backlog. This allows enough time for the product owner to address any faults that are found. It is understandable that some teams discover that holding shorter meetings once a week instead than once a sprint works better for their cadence.

Who Should Attend Product Backlog Refinement?

Refining the product backlog is not a formal Scrum activity. Nonetheless, the 2020 Scrum Guide lists it as a task that needs to be completed during each sprint. As a result, opinions on who ought to go are still divided.

Even while I usually think that the entire team should be involved, that isn’t really feasible for this particular meeting. Here are a few explanations:

Refinement of the product backlog often occurs two or three days prior to the conclusion of a sprint. Two or three days before a sprint ends, there’s nearly always someone on the team who’s insanely busy. We run the danger of not getting the product backlog item that individual is working on delivered if we force them to attend another meeting.

Backlog refinement should, as a general rule, account on 5 to 10 percent of each sprint’s effort. Even though it would be great if the entire squad participated, certain team members might not be able to.

What Happens During Product Backlog Refinement?

During a product backlog refinement meeting, the team members and product owner discuss the top items on the product backlog. The team members are given a chance to ask the questions that would normally arise during sprint planning:

Is this area of the system accessible to all users?

The team may decide to divide the story into smaller chunks that can be completed in a single sprint based on the responses to these questions. When a team uses story points for agile estimating, they will also add estimates to newly created or split stories as they become more urgent.

Why Refine the Product Backlog?

The product owner is able to address any questions that may not have been ready for a quick response if they had been addressed during sprint planning by posing queries regarding future stories ahead of time. It might be essential to set aside a high-priority product backlog item and not work on it during the sprint if those questions were addressed during the initial sprint planning session and too many could not be answered.

It is not necessary to answer all of these questions in a backlog refinement meeting. Instead, the product owner merely needs to touch on them enough to give the team the impression that they will have enough time to discuss the story in the upcoming planning meeting.

Backlog refinement in that sense is really a checkpoint rather than an effort to fully resolve issues.

How Do You Maximize the Value?

The same basic factors that apply to every meeting are likely to maximize the usefulness of a backlog refining meeting:

Make it as brief as you can.

Urge everyone to take part.

Recall that discussions regarding the product backlog are not restricted to a specific time or meeting, allowing anyone to join in at any moment. They typically take place two to three days before to the sprint’s conclusion, as I previously indicated, but it truly depends on what works best for your team.

Recall that not every product backlog item (often represented by user stories) needs to be fully understood at the start of a sprint while you’re honing the backlog. All that is required is a basic understanding of the features to give the team a good chance of finishing it in the sprint.

Is It Fun to Refine the Backlog?

Though I find it difficult to consider any meeting to be completely enjoyable, I do believe that, when done well with the proper teammates, meetings can serve as much-needed diversion from the team’s more rigorous work.

Effective teams are able to create a rhythm in which they alternate between doing really hard mental work in pairs or alone, broken up by sporadic encounters. Before returning to the more demanding job, the sessions might take on a social tone and serve as an opportunity for team members to joke about or simply take a mental break.

I’ve heard people think of a million creative ways to spice up Scrum gatherings. The majority of the suggestions I’ve heard focus on what to do when team members arrive late for the daily scrum (paying with a jar, performing in front of coworkers, or cracking jokes). However, those same inventive ideas may serve as the basis for a less awkward method to keep the refinement meeting informal.

Take a few minutes to discuss your recent activities, your family, or anything else that may lighten the mood and make the meeting appear less intimidating.

To summarize, you don’t have to refine the product backlog every sprint, but you should schedule time for it to maintain sprint-sized, compact things at the top so you may postpone investing on longer-term projects..

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