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Product Backlog - A Scrum Artifact

by Roopesh Janmanchi

March 04, 2019
Category Agile and Scrum


What is a Product Backlog?

Product Backlog is one of the Scrum Artifact. In simple terms, it is the list of items that is needed in the product. Needleless to say that product backlog is the single and the primary source of requirement for changes that may be required to be done in product.

The most and foremost important thing in product backlog is not just preparing list of items needed in the product but also prioritizing the items.

So to be more precise in defining a Product Backlog (PBIs), it is a prioritized featured list which includes short descriptions of all the functionality that is desired in the product.

Prioritization of items in product backlog is mostly influenced due to

  1. Customer Priority
  2. Urgency of Feedback
  3. Implementation difficulty
  4. Mutual relationship between work items (e.g. A is easier to if we do B first)

Creating a product backlog is not done in a vacuum. It is created seeking input and feedback from customers, designers and the development team to enhance everyone’s workload and the product delivery.

Product Backlog is derived from the roadmap and its requirements document. As the most important items are prioritized in PBL, development teams is very well aware of the items that is required to be delivered first.

Product Backlog serves as the connection between the product owner and the development team. Product Backlog is ever evolving. It needs to be updated on a regular basis as the work progresses to keep pace with the product development life cycle. 


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What is included in the Product Backlog?

Product Backlog comprises the following different types of items

  1. Features
  2. Bugs/defects
  3. Technical Work
  4. Information Attainment

1. Features:

It is the most common type of product backlog. It is something that creates a value to a stakeholder i.e. customer or business user.

Features can be new functionality or an amendment to an existing functionality. It should epitomize the majority of the items in the product backlog.

Features can be further classified further into Basic Features, Linear feature and differentiating feature.

Basic Features are the most features that a product should have. For example Login feature to check say bank balance, fund transfer to another party. Without login feature customer cannot do the said above mentioned work. It’s a must have feature.

Linear Feature are also known as performance features. Such feature fall can be termed as “WOW” feature. The more WOW feature is made available the better it enhances customer experience. Example of Linear feature would be say allowing customers to select denominations for Withdrawal of Cash from ATM.

Differentiating features are high excitement features that set apart from industry. It often generate excitement to customer. Marketing campaigns, Product visibility can be positioned based on these features.

2. Defects:

Defects are items which is also included in the product backlog. Defects are bug which is not delivered as per the requirement of the user. Development team or bug fixing team should ensure that defects are attended and resolved in an appropriate time bound frame.

3. Technical Work:

Product backlog can also include items that are technical in nature. For Example upgrading to the latest version Microsoft Office. Other example include upgrading all Computers to windows 7.

4. Information Attainment:

Information attainment is another type of items that is included in product backlog. This involves information attainment.  Examples includes prototype, proof-of-concept, research, experiment etc. 

Who is responsible for Prioritizing the Product Backlog?

Product Owner is responsible for prioritizing the items in the product backlog. Though he does the same in consultation with the help of the other Scrum team. Prioritizing is not done in a vacuum.

A good product owner will actively aim to keep the PBL as small as possible. Product backlog management includes but not limited to, ensuring that backlog is visible, transparent, and clear to all.  

Below is the example of the different Product Backlog

ID
Story
Estimation
Priority
1As a user I want to be able to login to my account
11
2As a user I want to rest my password
22
3After logging I want to my bank statement
33
4As a user I want to have filter option for month wise, year wise or flexible option to choose date
54
5I should receive an SMS on my registered mobile Number if account is debited or credited  for more than 500 INR
66