The most important scrum artefact is without any doubt the product backlog and it is as simple as it is important.
It’s the prioritized list of the outstanding work required to bring the product to life.
Together with the well-known user stories, it also contains:
- non-functional requirements (performance, availability, …)
- work necessary to setup the system’s environment
- bugs or defects
- work necessary to launch the product (user manuals, training, …)
The product owner ‘owns’ the product backlog and is responsible for managing it, the other members of the scrum team and the stakeholders contribute to it.
A product backlog has four distinct qualities:
All items on the product backlog are detailed enough depending on their priority. Items on top of the backlog are more detailed than the ones lower down on the list. Items to be implemented during the next sprint need to be detailed enough to make sure that the development team clearly and unambigiously understands the work to be carried out. Items further down lack this level of detail and, if they are functional requirements, are most often referred to as epics as opposed to user stories.
All items on the product backlog are estimated in terms of story points or ideal days. Knowing the size of the items allows the product owner to prioritize them and plan for a release date.
The product backlog is a living list, it evolves and its contents changes frequently. This results in product backlog grooming being an ongoing activity throughout the life-cycle of the product. Estimates and priorities, as well as descriptive text, value and risk can change on an ongoing basis.
All items on the list are prioritized. The most important and highest-priority items are implemented first and are at the top of the product backlog.
The more you move down on the product backlog, the lower the importance/priority.
An item’s priority is not only impacted by internal factors, like risk, business need and value, …. but can also be impacted by external, market-related factors, like changes in the marketplace, changing customer behaviour or competitors.
Together, these four qualities form the acronym DEEP.
Is your product backlog DEEP enough?