How Backlog Refinement Adds Value to Your Work?

There are 5 events which usually scrum teams have in sprint cadence. Namely Sprint Planning, Daily Stand up, Sprint Review, Retrospective and Backlog Refinement. All these events have some purpose and outcome.

Backlog Refinement may happen more than once in the sprint duration. It depends on the team and PO that how frequently they want to meet and refine backlog. Here I would like to share some thoughts and experiences about backlog refinement.

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|| What is Backlog Refinement ?

It is an event where team and PO discusses stories at length. They add required details, decide acceptance criteria and refine the stories. Team make stories ready to take in the upcoming sprints. Here team decides the story points also for each of the refined stories.

Purpose of this event is to keep backlog ready for upcoming sprints. It helps to make team understand the work coming to them and refine the stories till they are not ready for implementations. Team can plan to take the refined stories in immediate next sprint or may be in later sprints also, based on the priority. Here team participate in the whole process and contribute to make this event successful.

|| Who all participate in this event ?

Usually Product Owner, Scrum Master and team members participates in the Backlog Refinement. Team can invite some SMEs to help them on clarifying some doubts. But it’s more of Team’s and POs meeting to discuss upcoming backlog items.

|| When it can happen?

It’s completely up to the team and Product Owner that how frequently they want to meet to refine the backlog. A new team advised to have backlog refinement twice in a sprint. Once team is kind of settled, they can meet once in a sprint. Team should make sure that they are revisiting the backlog and aware of upcoming sprint’s prioritized stories.

|| Some misconceptions about Backlog Refinement

  1. Scrum Master and Product Owner sometimes meet separately and decide on what to take in next sprint. Team gets information later on their decision, this is not backlog refinement.
  2. Sometimes team is there in the meeting but leads, Scrum Master and Product Owner discuss and decide on backlog items. Nobody asks team’s opinion and team does not participate. This is not backlog refinement as there is no participation from team.

Backlog Refinement adds value for team in terms understanding the backlog items which they would be taking in upcoming sprints. It gives an opportunity to team members to ask questions and clarify doubts. Team gets complete understanding of the requirements. Once all the required details are in place, then can call the story ready. This makes team’s life easy during actual sprint time as they would have all the required details with them. Therefore team better informed to handle impediments during sprint.

Hope this article would help you. Thanks.

Refer Scrum Guide for more information on all events, roles and artifacts.