The purpose of Product Backlog Refinement is to clarify and prioritise PBIs. This happens according to the Scrum framework.
In Scrum, PBR occurs at the end of a sprint; in Kanban, you can perform it whenever you choose. Both methods have the same goal: to develop and deliver high-quality user stories.
The sprint goal is called the ‘end result’ of PBR. It becomes the sprint commitment (within Scrum) or delivers on each story’s planned value during a Kanban event.
Backlog refinement is the process of developing a shared understanding of what the product will and won’t do, how it will be implemented over time, and where on the priority chain it lies. It’s also a helpful tool to prioritise your backlog when everything seems equally important.
Is There a Difference Between Backlog Refinement and Backlog Grooming?
Backlog grooming has become less popular among Agile professionals, and Backlog refinement has replaced it.
Scrum experts did not think “grooming” was a dirty word. The process of refining the backlog is also called pre-planning, story time management and backlog refinement.
When’s the Best Time for Backlog Refinement?
The best time to do backlog refinement is dependent on the preferences of your team. If they’re happy to wait a few weeks before refining, it’s more ideal than doing it at every sprint planning meeting.
A backlog refinement session doesn’t have to be scheduled ahead of time. Always start with what you need.
Essential Steps in Product Backlog Refinement for your teams?
The Backlog Refinement process includes:
Assembling: Agile is a democratic process that encourages incremental change. One of its principles is to use the client’s needs to drive the development of new tasks. The Backlog Refinement phase starts with grouping similar needs together and prioritising them into a list, which we call “Product Backlog”.
Envisioning: After the backlog has been prioritised, it should be reviewed with stakeholders to evaluate what can be done to help them achieve their goals. When working on the backlog, often it is not clear why certain items are included. Envisioning discussions provide clarity and transparency to each of these items, ensuring every team member knows why it is included and how much value it has for the project.
Prioritising: Once every requirement has been gathered and discussed, you can start to prioritise. To create a release plan, key stakeholders work together to decide which requirements are most valuable and which ones aren’t important at all.
Organising: Release plans should be organised into development sprints (or iterations). During backlog refinement, developers decide how many stories they want to complete in each sprint. They also decide when there will be special sprints to address any technical debt or other issues that need attention before new features can be implemented.
Estimating: It is important to take into account how long it will take to build certain requirements when refining the backlog. This might be tricky, but frameworks like Scrum make it easier. They include rules for estimating how many sprints a certain requirement may take once it reaches development.
Scheduling: Once stories have been prioritised and are organised into sprints, you can start scheduling them into your calendar. This step includes figuring out the times when stories are planned to start or finish so that you have enough time to complete tasks without sacrificing quality or functionality.
Prioritising: When development continues, it’s important to revisit the Backlog Refinement process. A product owner may realise that a story is less valuable than previously believed or that another story is more valuable.
Monitoring: Agile mainly emphasises working software over comprehensive documentation, but teams sometimes need project management tools while they’re doing this. One such tool to consider is JIRA or Trello. These can be used to monitor and update the product backlog in the meantime. You can see what stories are being worked off on the board, follow progress and have a clear picture of what is being worked on in your organisation at any given time.
Releasing: If an owner decides that enough work has been done to release something, they’ll set the date and prepare their team for deployment.