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[Product Owner] – Top 10 Backlog Tips

Lists rock. They’re even better when someone has put together an awesome list for public consumption. Upon thinking about how to better use your product backlog as a Product Owner, consider the following helpful guidelines [distilled for a quicker read].

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Top Ten Backlog Tips

  1. One product at a time – Derive your product backlog from the product vision or the product roadmap.
  2. Detailed – Make your product backlog as detailed as possible.
  3. Be structured – Group similar items into themes.
  4. Visible – Put your backlog up on the wall.
  5. Focused backlog – Start with many, but have the courage to weed out other items over time.
  6. Capture functional requirements – Start with large, coarse-grained stories and progressively decompose them over time into detailed ones utilizing customer feedback.
  7. Start with risky stories first – Use risk/uncertainty, dependencies, and releasability to decide how soon an item should be implemented. Addressing risky items early on allows you to fail fast.
  8. Manage global nonfunctional requirements carefully – Describe them precisely upfront. Capture operational qualities such as performance, robustness and interoperability as constraints; describe usability requirements visually, for instance in the form of sketches, mock-ups, and screenshots.
  9. Housekeeping – Groom your product backlog regularly and collaboratively. Run weekly grooming workshops with the team to ensure that your backlog is in good shape. Involve stakeholders including customers and users as appropriate.
  10. Be ready – Make sure the top items are always “ready:” clear, feasible, and testable. This allows the items to flow into the sprint and facilitates a firm commitment.

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