Working with the product backlog can be challenging, and many product owners wrestle with overly long and detailed backlogs. The following ten tips help you use your product backlog effectively.
- Derive your product backlog from the Vision Board or the product roadmap. Your product backlog should describe one product.
- Make your product backlog DEEP. Ensure that is detailed appropriately, emergent, estimated, and prioritised.
- Use a multi-dimensional backlog like my Product Canvas for new products and for product updates aimed at new markets.
- Make your product backlog visible. Put your backlog up on the wall or if that’s not possible, on a wiki server where it can be accessed easily by everyone involved in the development effort.
- Keep your backlog focussed and concise. Your backlog is likely to change and grow based on customer and user feedback.
- Employ user stories to capture ideas and requirements. Start with epics and progressively decompose them into detailed stories thereby incorporating the user feedback.
- Use uncertainty and risk to decide how soon an item should be implemented. Addressing uncertain items early on allows you to test your ideas, to fail fast, and to learn how to continue.
- Capture generic operational qualities such as performance, robustness and interoperability as constraint stories; describe the product or user interface design visually, for instance, in form of sketches, mock-ups, and screen shots.
- Update your product backlog to incorporate the insights you have gained from demoing or releasing software to the customers and users. Involve the development team to leverage the team members’ knowledge and creativity. Include stakeholders as appropriate.
- Make sure the top items are “ready“: clear, feasible, and testable. This allows the team to turn the items into a product increment, and it facilitates a realistic commitment.
You can learn out more about the product backlog by attending my Certified Scrum Product Owner training course.