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What's in a Product Backlog?

The intents and components of an effective product backlog

10 January 2018

Vrushali Umbarkar
Zensar Technologies


The most critical part of any Scrum project is a well-defined product backlog. The most critical procedure in creating a product backlog prescribes the ease by which future sprints are executed. Other important aspects include key players who sculpt the backlog, including not only product owners but also subject matter experts, test leads, user experience analysts, and user interface designers.
 

What is a product backlog?

By definition, a product backlog is a stack of high-level requirements with “just the right amount” of technical design or architecture in place. The product backlog should not be all-encompassing. It cannot be deemed as a fully furnished and finished artifact.

The most preliminary activity, crucial for ideation of the product backlog, is to create a Lean business canvas to understand the problem statement, multiple probable solutions, existing alternatives, metrics, and other key parameters. The business canvas helps to map the real-time requirements that your solution is going to solve with a unique business value proposition.
 

The intent of the product backlog

The main intent of creating a product backlog instead of an extensive and all-encompassing requirement specification document is to have the right amount of documentation to start sprinting.

The product backlog has several intents, aiming at:
  • Identifying the minimum documentation required to proceed
  • Understanding different workflows
  • Understanding technical needs
  • Figuring out user experience
  • Creating themes
  • Identifying nonfunctional requirements
  • Managing dependencies
All these intents need to be thought over thoroughly through numerous brainstorming sessions. To help you brainstorm, use the techniques called impact maps. Impact maps are high-level pieces of documentation that detail what deliverables are attached to each theme, epic, or feature in terms of business objectives. Impact maps clarify the path the team needs to tread to achieve those business objectives. They can then be used to logically group the epics in themes that help the team decide on the minimum viable product and in turn define a prioritized product backlog.
 

Contents of an effective product backlog

Every backlog must have business epics, features, and user stories, but is there anything else it should have? The product backlog can be deemed effective and efficient when it considers the following:
  • Technical epics
  • Test scenarios as acceptance criteria
  • Business objectives
  • Interface epics
  • Integration epics
  • Nonfunctional requirements
To summarize, an effective and efficient product backlog can direct the team toward what needs to be achieved to meet business objectives. The product backlog is bound to undergo changes to enhance the quality of the solution we are delivering to our end customer.
 

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.



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