Project Management

Q&A: Backlog Grooming

Bart has been in ecommerce for over 20 years, and can't imagine a better job to have. He is interested in all things agile, or anything new to learn.

In a follow-up to an article on backlog grooming, we answer reader questions about how the process differs from requirements documentation; how prioritization works without a complete picture; how a backlog differs from a work breakdown structure; and how to achieve an “all-in” view of product features when the backlog is a work in progress.

A recent how-to article entitled “Groom with a View” (June 4, 2014) described the benefits of “backlog grooming” — including keeping stakeholder informed, contriubting to the project plan, and reinforcing Agile principles — and offered advice on how and when it should be done. It also generated several reader questions that the author felt would best be addressed in the form of another article.

How does the initial backlog differ from a requirements document, and how do you prioritize without knowing the whole picture?

Many of us have had experience with lengthy requirements documents. They are meant to cover all the needs of the project, and assume that the writer of the document has full knowledge, from the start, of everything that the project should deliver. History and experience shows that not to be true, and often the final project delivers less than half of what was originally intended. There is a temptation to think that Agile is more of the same; someone should write a large …

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- George Burns