Thursday 11 July 2019

Applied Software Delivery : Optimal Backlog

Backlog management should be simple and efficient, what are the key things you can do to make it so?

Give teams their own backlogs

Each cross functional team of around (-+3)+7 members must have their own backlog.

This is one of the biggest productivity improvements you can make. If teams have to work in a global backlog then team members have to scan the whole backlog, sort stories against each other, discuss and understand stories, allocate bugs, etc. This is highly inefficient and puts backlog management on the exponential waste curve, when team has its own backlog it puts them on to the linear waste curve.

Keep it short

Large backlogs are wasteful because refined stories will get dropped as business priorities change and they create lots of unnecessary maintenance and conversations which intern creates confusion and misunderstandings.

You can prevent backlog waste by ensuring that each cross-functional team has their own backlog and that they have only 1-2 sprints or just-in-time worth of work refined overall.

Prepare for the story refinement meeting

You can reduce further time waste by creating draft stories with clear INVEST acceptance criteria before the team refinement meeting. This will give story refinement session overall focus and a strong starting point for a discussion. I don’t agree that all stories need to be created together with the whole team from scratch. Story refinement meetings should be used to get everyone to ask questions, think, create shared understanding and figure out “how” they are going deliver “what” is specified in the user story.

“Organizing is only necessary when you have too many things. Think about it: when we organize a collection of books, it’s because when they’re not organized, we can’t find the books we want. But if we had, say, five books, we wouldn’t need to organize.” By Leo Babauta

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