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Product Backlog Refinement

Last post 05:21 am August 25, 2014 by Ian Mitchell
8 replies
06:32 am July 7, 2014

Hi all,

I was wondering if the Product Backlog Refinement affects the Sprint Backlog Items as well? On page 13, the Scrum guides specifies the following:

"This is an ongoing process in which the Product Owner and the Development Team collaborate on the details of Product Backlog items. During Product Backlog refinement, items are reviewed and revised. The Scrum Team decides how and when refinement is done."

Is it referring to the PBI outside the Sprint Backlog only or all the PBIs? If it's referring to the ones in the Sprint Backlog as well, this process might lead to changes and might need to make another Sprint Planning, no?


12:41 pm July 7, 2014

No. The reason for backlog refinement is so the PO can plan for future increments and releases.

When an item from the Product Backlog is committed to a sprint and worked on, it doesn't need to be groomed or refined during backlog grooming. It is in the sprint and any clarification that is needed by the dev team should be taken up with the PO in real time.

04:05 pm July 7, 2014

Ideally, No - but has to be in case-by-case scenario - as Product Backlog includes Sprint Backlog too. Grooming ideally involves all product backlog items that are not in the current sprint.

Sprint backlog is well planned and refined in the sprint planning. And if there is any need arises where sprint backlog item needs to be refined for example additional information has been found that requires changes that are not envisioned in the sprint planning - those needs to be informed ASAP to the PO and/or the team in the stand-ups.

The PO and the team can re-negotiate the current sprint backlog item with new information with a possible solutions like

a) Accepted by PO and the Team, with possible risk to the current sprint
b) Accepted AS-IS by PO and the team, with additional backlog item added to deal with the new information.
c) Removed from current sprint and bring back some thing else from product backlog - that can change the scope of the current sprint.

05:39 pm July 7, 2014

If either the Product Backlog or Sprint Backlog are insulated from change, waste is likely to be incurred due to delay and subsequent rework. Any developments in one should therefore be assessed for potential impact upon the other.

Change is managed through clear ownership of the Product Backlog (by the Product Owner) and the Sprint Backlog (by the Development Team), and the facilitation and guidance of the Scrum Master. Collaboration regarding undone work on either backlog should occur between them on an ongoing basis.

07:43 am August 4, 2014

Ideally, No - but has to be in case-by-case scenario - as Product Backlog includes Sprint Backlog too.

No, the Product Backlog does not include the Sprint Backlog. They are separate artifacts. In Product Backlog Refinement the Product Backlog is refined, which means the items of the Product Backlog are reviewed, decomposed, enhanced etc. Speaking of Product Backlog Items here does not mean the Sprint Backlog is refined too, only because it contains Product Backlog Items as well. The wording can be misleading, and in my opinion the items should be called Sprint Backlog items as soon as they go from Product Backlog to Sprint Backlog to avoid confusion. Maybe this wording is on purpose to make it clear that we are still talking about the same items.

08:55 am August 4, 2014

> No, the Product Backlog does not include the
> Sprint Backlog. They are separate artifacts.

The Product Backlog should reflect the entirety of undone work, including any undone work that is currently in the Sprint Backlog. PBI's should only leave the Product Backlog when the PO removes them or they have satisfied the Definition of Done.

Sometimes we talk about "returning" undone (and re-estimated) work to the Product Backlog from the Sprint Backlog, but this is not strictly correct...if it is undone, the work never actually left it.

09:26 am August 4, 2014

No, I disagree. The Scrum guide states "Product Backlog items can be updated at any time by the Product Owner or at the Product Owner’s discretion." and "Only the Development Team can change its Sprint Backlog during a Sprint."
This leads to a contradiction if Sprint Backlog is a subset of Product Backlog.

09:55 am August 4, 2014

"or at the Product Owner's discretion" is perhaps the key phrase here. Those PBI's that are currently in the Sprint Backlog, and which remain undone, are subject to potential replanning by the Development Team. They wholly own the Sprint Backlog and only they can change it.

The PO must of course provide approval for any changes to the PBI's and should in fact provide the necessary guidance for doing so.

05:21 am August 25, 2014

I've just posted a blog on this subject:

"Counting Chickens: Undone Work in Scrum"…

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