Who is allowed to add items to the Product Backlog?

Last post 09:39 am September 10, 2014
by Alper Gurbuz
4 replies
10:39 am April 5, 2014

Hi guys, new to the forum. Have not taken the test yet.

I've seen this pop up, and not found a definitive answer yet...

Who is allowed to add items to the Product Backlog?


05:57 am April 6, 2014

Hi Brian,

The Scrum Guide (July 2013) state on page 5 "The Product Owner is the sole person responsible for managing the Product Backlog." to emphasize: the PO is "responsible for managing".

"Managing" can be achieved in different ways.
- One way is, that only the PO may add items. But this will greatly limit the effectiveness of your Scrum implementation. You will get problems with complex PBIs, you limit your Development Team to create the best possible solution, your PO is getting to be a bottleneck in 1-Team setups as well in multi-Team setups.
- A better way to understand "Managing" is, that everybody in the Team (PO and DevTeam) is allowed to add items to the Product Backlog, but the PO is responsible to keep the Product Backlog in a workable state. This may be achieved by a policy, e.g. new items needs to be flaged so the PO can find them fast.
- The best way is that everybody in need to add an item to the Product Backlog collaborate with the PO directly.

Summary: It depends on our culture. You will benefit greatly, if don't put any constrains on who may add items to the Product Backlog. But only if your PO is capable of managing the Product Backlog. This may mean, he as enough time, he can handle the tools, ...

Hope this answer helps,

09:01 am April 6, 2014

Thanks for the great answer!

Yes, that makes complete sense. I found it strange that it wasn't directly called out in the Scrum guide, but I guess that would make it more of a best practice, which the Scrum guide seems to try and avoid.


11:55 am April 9, 2014

The Scrum Guide says that each item on the Product Backlog must have an estimate...and that only the Development Team are in a position to provide that information.

This implies that while the Product Owner owns the Product Backlog and is responsible for managing it, he or she cannot add items without the co-operation of the Development Team. To put it another way: if the PO arbitrarily adds items, the backlog is not well formed due to the absence of estimates, and the rules of Scrum are not being followed.

That's a very strict interpretation. In practice most Scrum Teams will allow unsized items onto a Product Backlog with the understanding that estimates will be provided (and the items discussed) in the next refinement session. For examination study purposes however, a strict interpretation of the Scrum Guide is generally the wisest strategy to follow.

09:39 am September 10, 2014

Anyone should be able to add items but PO decides what to do with them.
He/she can reject the item or never prioritize it.
A PBI item may never be released.