Backlog Refinement, aka Backlog Grooming

Backlog refinement, also known as backlog grooming, is the process of keeping the backlog clean and orderly and adding the necessary details and estimates to the product backlog items. Product refinement is the result of the product refinement meeting held between the product owner/manager, Scrum Master, or CTO and the development team.

During the product backlog refinement meeting, top items from the backlog are discussed, reviewed, and revised. You should hold this meeting once per sprint and it should happen near the end of the sprint to ensure that the backlog is ready for the next sprint.

Why You Need to Have a Well-Groomed Backlog

Backlog refinement can have multiple important benefits. Refinement reduces confusion and uncertainty and prepares the team to be much more efficient in the following sprint. If done right, this meeting also helps reduce the time necessary for the sprint planning meeting.

Plus, refined backlog items are much easier to estimate and implement.

In order to reach these benefits, it’s crucial to include the whole development team in the meeting (or at least as many team members as possible).

The discussion needs to be focused on gaining more insight into each backlog item and helping the responsible team member understand what needs to be done. You should document all decisions for future reference. 

For a successful product backlog grooming meeting, each team member needs to know their responsibilities.

  • The product owner or manager is supposed to lead the meeting and make sure all decisions are in line with the overall product strategy.
  • Scrum Master needs to facilitate communication between the development team and the product owner.
  • Developers need to find and document creative solutions for backlog items, give time estimations, break up backlog items into smaller tasks if necessary, and collaborate with other team members on finding unified solutions.

If the whole Scrum team is involved in the process of product backlog grooming, it becomes much easier to plan and execute a successful and fruitful sprint.

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