Techniques a PO can employ to make the backlog transparent.

Last post 03:33 pm February 10, 2019
by Ian Mitchell
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11:56 pm February 9, 2019

I was trying to coach my PO on maintaining the backlog and was in return asked if there were any specific techniques/measures that could be used to ensure that the backlog is as transparent as possible.

My understanding is that as long as the backlog is accessible to the relevant stakeholders and the scrum team(s) that work on it, then it is transparent. Btw, we use JIRA to keep our PBIs.

I'd like to ask if there is anything else that I may have overlooked?

12:18 am February 10, 2019

Steve - My thoughts on this.  To me making the Product Backlog transparent means that it is being refined as often as needed (at the right level of detail) and kept up to date so that the best decisions can be made.  It needs to be the single source of truth, so is everything that is needed to build the product in the Product Backlog?  Or is it just a giant dumping ground or requirements?  Sometimes removing work no longer thought needed may make the Product Backlog transparent.

Do the Product Backlog items have the right level of detail?  Value?  Work that is "ready" for the next Sprint or two ordered, estimated, described the extent that is transparent to all reading it?  Has thought been put into the order of it?

Might complimentary Scrum practices such as using user stories and acceptance criteria help make it more transparent?

When the stakeholders review it, perhaps at the Sprint Review, is it transparent enough so everyone is making the best decisions, or are the PBIs fuzzy?

04:50 am February 10, 2019

Maybe it would be a good idea to encourage the PO to collaborate with the relevant stakeholders and ask for feedback concerning the Product Backlog. As Chris said the Sprint Review can be the proper event to do this.

09:33 am February 10, 2019

More conversation is present between the PO and who can give his/her contribute to Product Backlog refinement, more transparency is maximized. Refinement activities and events where Product Backlog is inspected and adapted (e.g.: Sprint Planning and Sprint Reviews) play a key role in this.

I would also mention techniques to get PB visible through SW apps and physical spaces, in order to enforce its transparency.

03:33 pm February 10, 2019

I was trying to coach my PO on maintaining the backlog and was in return asked if there were any specific techniques/measures that could be used to ensure that the backlog is as transparent as possible.

What constraints on transparency are envisioned?

Suppose, for example, that the Development Team added items during refinement for remediating technical debt. Would the PO be comfortable ordering these items in relation to others for which the business value might be clearer?