To know what backlog grooming is, let’s understand what is backlog first. A product backlog is a list of existing and new features, bug fixes, infrastructure changes, and other activities that a team needs to deliver to achieve the desired output. (2020)
Backlog grooming or backlog refinement means when the items on the product backlog are reviewed and prioritized so that the highest priority items are ready for delivery. The term “backlog grooming” was described by Kane Mar in the year 2008. The backlog grooming is scheduled regularly and includes the following tasks:
- Checking on user stories that are old and irrelevant
- Prioritizing user stories and giving them estimates
- Giving new estimates to items due to new priorities
- Splitting user stories based on priorities and assigning low priority user stories for the next iteration.
Conducted by – The backlog grooming is collectively carried out by the product owners, project managers, scrum masters, and the development team who discuss and create real-time estimates.
When to Schedule? – The backlog grooming is conducted two days before the end of the on-going sprint. This helps the team to plan for the activities for the upcoming sprint. Out of the total project time, it is recommended to assign 10% of the time to backlog grooming activities for successful project delivery.
Building Jira Backlog Using Work Breakdown Structure
We can use to Jira tool to build the product backlog and into that, we can explore the Work breakdown Structure (WBS) for backlog grooming sessions. The WBS helps to break larger projects into smaller and manageable items. The Work Breakdown structure is not a native functionality of Jira but we can use them via Atlassian apps which comes with Work breakdown Structure Gantt-Chart. The following are the important steps to follow for the backlog grooming sessions:
Step 1 Develop Roadmap
In this step, the product owner and the project managers prepare a roadmap which is the list of goals to achieve at every project milestone. The goals are divided into user stories and user epics and they converted into requirement documents and given to the development team. This roadmap is created based on the priority of the events the client agrees upon. The team may develop either a complete user epic first or all the related user stories to one epic after which a backlog is created in Jira by the manager.
Step 2 Review the Roadmap
In this step, the manager and the team review the roadmap created in step one. This review meeting is also termed as “Storytime” and it is carried out weekly once. This meeting helps the team to understand what to develop, how to develop, and what business value it holds. They get a clear idea of the user stories, priorities set for them, and the set timeline for them to create the product. All the team members can provide their views including the product owner.
Step 3 Product Backlog Grooming
This step helps to build a product backlog with the prioritized features which can be used by the development team. This session happens with the product owner and the backlog list is prepared based on their inputs. Each of the roadmap tasks given suitable status like on-hold, waiting for approval, and ready for development. We use Scrum to develop a product backlog in Jira due to its easy to use features.
Step 4 Sprint Planning and Implementation
In this step, the manager assigns tasks to his team members based on the team’s strength. A task list is formed of what will be delivered in every sprint by the team.
Step 5 Prioritise Issues
Backlog must contain only the important tasks and issues, it should not consider all the unnecessary and least important items. So to avoid this prioritization the issues are the solution. This can be done very easily in JIRA, as we can tag the issues according to their priorities ranging from highest to lowest. Thus by doing this we have a perfect product backlog list only with the highly prioritized items to be worked on. The below image describes how to set the priority for the issues in Jira:
- Show the priorities tab on the left menu
- It shows the description for each priority
- This showed by whom an issue is used by
- This shows the “add priority” tab.
So a backlog groomings helos to create a product backlog with the most relevant and high priority tasks. This backlog is designed keeping in mind that it aligns well with the project goals set at the conception stage.
- Anon., 2020. Product Backlog. [Online] Available at: https://www.agilealliance.org/glossary/backlog/#q=~(infinite~false~filters~(postType~(~’page~’post~’aa_book~’aa_event_session~’aa_experience_report~’aa_glossary~’aa_research_paper~’aa_video)~tags~(~’backlog))~searchTerm~’~sort~false~sortDirection~’asc~pag [Accessed 9 October 2020].