Lesson 07: Product Backlog Refinement
When should we refine the Product Backlog?
- 00:05 – Alright. You remember that we don’t create a complete Product Backlog in the beginning of the project.
- 00:12 – That’s upfront planning. And we do it gradually during the project, and especially based on the feedback that we receive from the customer and end-user representatives and everyone else.
- 00:27 – A part of that feedback comes from the Sprint Reviews, but we can still have feedback in other types.
- 00:35 – So, we need to, as Product Owners, we need to constantly update the Product Backlog, refine the Product Backlog. We will add new items.
- 00:47 – We may want to add more details to the existing items.
- 00:52 – Maybe we start with big items and then break them down into smaller ones.
- 00:58 – Sometimes, we may see that an item is not needed anymore, in which case we will remove it from the Product Backlog, and many other things.
- 01:07 – Now, the point is that we don’t have a specific event for Product Backlog refinement in Scrum, and the reason for that is that we don’t need to do it in one specific time.
- 01:23 – We have a Product Backlog, which is separate from our Sprint Backlog.
- 01:29 – You remember, in the beginning of each Sprint, we create a Spring Backlog and that’s what we use as the plan for our Sprint.
- 01:38 – So, we are free to make changes into our Product Backlog; that’s a great thing.
- 01:44 – So, instead of waiting for a specific event to refine the Product Backlog, you will do it as soon as possible.
- 01:54 – So, maybe one day, people are working, the developers are working, and the customer calls you and tells you about some new ideas that they have about the software.
- 02:10 – In that case, you will compose a new item based on what you understand, and in that time or a little bit later, you will go to the developers, they have to be involved, it’s not only about you, because the item that you create should be realistic.
- 02:30 – You go to the developers and explain the new item. You will talk to them.
- 02:37 – Maybe they will tell you that it’s not compatible with something else that we have in the Product Backlog.
- 02:44 – Maybe they can come up with a new idea that is even better than that.
- 02:48 – So, you make adjustments to that and finally, more importantly, for the items that you have in the Product Backlog, you need to know how big they are.
- 03:00 – You need to add their estimate. That plays a big role when you want to order the items because, for example, if two different items have the same profit, have the possibility to generate the same amount of profit, but one of them is really small and it’s a thing you can do in a few hours, while the other one takes weeks to create, then the first one is better obviously and you will probably put it higher in the Product Backlog.
- 03:30 – That’s why we need to have the estimates. Now the question is, who should estimate the items?
- 03:36 – Developers, because they are the people who are going to develop the item.
- 03:42 – They know best how much work it takes to create that.
- 03:46 – So, the other thing that you do in that point is to ask them for the estimate.
- 03:53 – Now there’s a certain process, which we will talk about later, where they come up with a good estimate for you, you will write it down on the card, and you will put it in the Product Backlog, and this is the whole Product Backlog refinement process that we have in Scrum.
- 04:11 – Now, the triggers may be different.
- 04:13 – For example, maybe the developers call you instead of the customer and tell you about something that is needed to create consistency in the solution, but it doesn’t exist in the Product Backlog. Then, you will go there, talk to them, try to understand what they are saying, probably double-check it with the customer, then create the card, ask them for the estimate and put it on the Product Backlog, or maybe you’re just talking to one of the end-user representatives, or you’re just walking in the nature and suddenly you have an idea, “Oh, that would be a great thing to have in our product.” Then the next day when you go to work, you will have the Product Backlog refinement.
- 05:02 – Now, it is okay for you as the Product Owner to spend as much time as needed on Product Backlog refinement, but it may become distracting for the developers.
- 05:17 – So, first of all, what I told you doesn’t mean that any time you have something new, you will go to the developers and say, “Stop working. Come here. We need to do a Product Backlog refinement.” You have to understand that. So, maybe you want to do it at the end of the day at a certain time.
- 05:37 – You don’t want to distract them. Also, we have a rule here, that Product Backlog refinement should not take more than 10% of the time of the developers.
- 05:49 – For you, you can spend way, way more than that time.
- 05:54 – Alright. So, that’s it. This is Product Backlog refinement and this is how we gradually refine our Product Backlog throughout the project, and therefore, when it’s time for the next Sprint Planning, you will be completely ready.
- 06:11 – Everything in the Product Backlog is ordered and even people, the developers, already know what those items mean.
- 06:19 – So, you don’t have to spend a lot of time in Sprint Planning talking about the items.
- 06:23 – You already know everything. You will double-check things and talk about practical aspects and move on with your Sprint Planning.
- 06:31 – Alright. So, that was a really, really quick overview of the Scrum framework.
- 06:38 – In the next iteration, we will talk about the Agile Concept, what we mean when we talk about Agile, which is all about the way we develop the product.
- 06:54 – It’s a different way of developing the product, and for you as a Product Owner, it’s absolutely necessary to have a really good understanding of the Agile method, and then when we’re done with that, we will go back to the Scrum framework and cover all the details.
Congratulations! You’re done with the first section of this course.
The previous versions of the Scrum Guide used to say that Product Backlog refinement usually takes less than 10% of the time of the Developers. This is removed from the new version of the guide because they want to be less prescriptive. However, the 10% is still a helpful approximation you can have in mind.
- Why don’t we have a specific, timeboxed event for Product Backlog refinement?
- Describe everything that happens during Product Backlog refinement.
- How much time should we spend on Product Backlog refinement?
- Who’s responsible for estimating the size of items? Why?
Optional Extra Activities
- “Product Backlog refinement” used to be called something else. Can you find this old name?
- How frequently are people doing Product Backlog refinement?
- Have you heard of #NoEstimates? What’s your opinion about it?
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