What Indicates a Good Product Backlog?

The product backlog contains all the required actions to create a successful product. It has a substantial influence on the team productivity wether they work with a good or a bad groomed backlog. That’s why especially the Product Owner should care about the quality of the product backlog.
But how can a Product Owner and the team rate the quality of their product backlog?

The DEEP-characteristics try to give an answer to that question. DEEP is an abbreviation for:

  • Detailed appropriately
  • Emergent
  • Estimated
  • Prioritised

Let’s take a deeper look at these characteristics.

Detailed appropriately

The basic rule is: The closer a backlog item comes to its realisation the more granular it should be described. There are different sizes of backlog items within the product backlog:

  • Items that are planned for the next sprint should be described in full detail, say as small stories.
  • Items that are planned for the following sprints can be described as big stories.
  • Items that are a bit further away from their implementation can be recorded as rough epics.

It’s obvious that not the whole product backlog should be described in full detail. That would be a waste.

Emergent

A product backlog is never written in stone. It’s vivid and groomed by the Product Owner and the team with the help of the stakeholders. This happens e.g. with backlog grooming workshops, but in the review-meetings as well.

Estimated

The product backlog has to be estimated. There are several estimation techniques like planning poker and estimation game. They can be used at estimation meetings, backlog grooming workshops and, last chance, in the sprint plannings, so that every backlog item is estimated.

Prioritised

All the tasks in the product backlog should be prioritised. The Product Owner is responsible for the prioritization of the product backlog. S/he does this in close cooperation with the stakeholders and according to the latest market developments.

These characteristics give the team and the Product Owner an orientation while grooming the backlog.
It’s also helpful if the product backlog is easily visible and accessible. A product backlog board might help with this object.

Foto: von tassoman

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German version of this article

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