Backlog refinement

Add detail, estimates, and order to stories in the backlog
Gabriel Guevara
Design Operations Manager

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What's in this template?

Refining the backlog can help your team close the gaps in understanding the stories and knowing what to prioritize first. The conversation needs to be structured because it’s too easy to go down unnecessary rabbit holes. You might end up covering a bunch of stories but you don’t focus on the ones that are most important right now.

At the start of the meeting, decide what you will cover in this meeting and what you will not.  When the conversation veers off track or goes too deep into a rabbit hole, you can bring it back to the agenda. If someone on your team isn’t certain about what was decided or why it was decided, they can refer back to the discussion notes. 

Throughout the sprint, stories in the backlog can pile up and it can become quite overwhelming. The more time between when a story is first created and the next backlog refinement meeting, the bigger the gap in understanding of the story’s purpose. So make sure to have these meetings once every two weeks. Refinement helps teams get more aligned with the work and the discussions often expose hidden complexity that would have been discovered when they work on the story. 

Goals for the next sprint

What goal or metric is most important for us to focus on?

Set a limit for what to cover today

Decide what you will cover today and what you will not

Clean out the backlog

Delete stories that are no longer relevant

List new stories

Write new stories before the meeting and share updates here

Choose highest priority stories

Decide on the most important stories to be covered today

Review priority stories

Review the context, requirements, implementation, and red flags

60 - 90 minutes
3 - 8
Once every 2-4 weeks

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