How Backlog Refinement Adds Value to Your Work?

There are five events that Scrum teams typically have in their sprint cadence, namely Sprint Planning, Daily Stand-up, Sprint Review, Retrospective, and Backlog Refinement. Each of these events serves a specific purpose and yields outcomes.

Backlog Refinement may occur more than once during the sprint duration, and its frequency depends on the preferences of the team and Product Owner. The team and PO decide how often they want to meet and refine the backlog. Here, I would like to share some thoughts and experiences about backlog refinement.

Backlog Refinement

Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash

|| What is Backlog Refinement ?

It is an event where the team and Product Owner discuss stories in detail. They add necessary details, define acceptance criteria, and refine the stories, preparing them for upcoming sprints. During this time, the team also decides on the story points for each refined story.

The purpose of this event is to prepare the backlog for upcoming sprints, ensuring that the team comprehends the forthcoming work and refines the stories until they are implementation-ready. The team can plan to incorporate the refined stories in the immediate next sprint or in later sprints, depending on their priority. During this process, the entire team actively participates, contributing to the success of the event.

|| Who all participate in this event ?

Typically, the Product Owner, Scrum Master, and team members participate in Backlog Refinement. The team may choose to invite Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to assist in clarifying certain doubts. However, the primarily function of this a meeting between the team and the Product Owner 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.