The product backlog is the prioritized list of project deliverables.
When to Use Product Backlog
The product backlog is created at the beginning of the project and reviewed prior to the beginning of the Sprint in order to select the Sprint backlog. The Product backlog is revised at the end of each Sprint based upon the Sprint results and any changes in the business or industry dynamics.
- The product backlog is the prioritized list of all project deliverables. As such, it describes the scope of the project.
- Each deliverable is described on a Story Card.
- The Product Owner consolidates all of the Story Cards from all stakeholders and customers into one list. The Product Owner is responsible to ensure the Story Cards are clearly and completely written.
- The Product Owner prioritizes the Story Cards from number one to number last. Once the priority is set by the Product Owner, no one can change it except the Product Owner.
- On large projects, the Story Cards are often organized into a series of Releases. Each Release will be a subset of the deliverables that creates a “Minimally Viable Product.” This means that the deliverables from that Release (combined with any preceding Releases) creates a level of functionality or performance that can be used and tested by stakeholders and customers.
- A Story Card with a very high priority for the project could have a very low priority for a given Release depending upon the focus of the Release.
- Based upon the focus of the Sprint, Story Cards are categorized for that Sprint using MoSCoW (note this is not the same as the priority).
- M – Must have for this Release
- S – Should have for this Release
- C – Could have for this Release
- W – Won’t have for this Release
- The Product Owner plans the Releases, usually with input from senior management and the business functions.
- The Release plan is updated after each Sprint based upon the results of the Sprint Demo.
Hints and Tips
- On a large Agile/Scrum project, the most difficult thing to do is to prioritize the Product Backlog. There are many stakeholders, each of whom considers their deliverables to be among the most important. The Product Owner needs thick skin and good business sense to prioritize the Story Cards – and they should expect to hear some disagreement from stakeholders.
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