Product Backlog Refinement : Visibility in the Sprint BackLog ?

Last post 06:02 am March 15, 2014
by Olivier Ledru
2 replies
05:52 am March 14, 2014

Hi !

How do you deal with the refinement sessions with your teams ?
As refinement can take up to 10% of the capacity of the Dev Team, do you make your refinement session transparent and visible as Product Backlog Items or Sprint Backlog Items or tasks in the Sprint Board ?

If yes, do you estimate theses and in which unit ?

By now, I don't have Sprint Backlog Items for refinement, but we just have tasks for it, with an estimate of a few hours, not to forget it.

I'm embarassed with have in the Sprint Backlog some tasks, estimated in hours, related to User Stories estimated in User-story Points AND some tasks (like a 2days-Spike or 1/2day refinement session) not related to any items expressed in User-Story Point.
Even if we don't make any conversion from USP to days, I don't feel comfortable with this situation.


06:20 am March 14, 2014

I'd be reluctant to have agile events, or ongoing best practices like backlog refinement, ride the board as tickets or as their payload. They don't represent business value to be delivered, nor are they technical tasks to be associated with any one PBI.

The deciding factor is whether you need high transparency over how team members' spend their time. Ideally you shouldn't need this kind of transparency at all, because the team should be accounting for value delivered, and not for each hour of each day that they work. However there can be rare occasions, especially in low-trust environments, where certain things must be made plainly visible to all. In these situations you can have a "housekeeping" placeholder in the Sprint Backlog against which Scrum Events and refinement sessions may be recorded. Keep them off the Product Backlog, as they do not represent business value and are not negotiable. The available sprint budget may need to be reduced to accommodate these items. For example, if you intend to spend 10% of Sprint time on backlog refinement, the budget available for inducting PBI's might be reduced by 10% accordingly.

06:02 am March 15, 2014

Ian, thank you for your very wise and clear answer, as usual !