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Technical discussions

Last post 05:15 pm February 5, 2024 by Daniel Wilhite
4 replies
06:12 am February 3, 2024


The Scrum Team discusses technical details about the User Stories during backlog refinement call. The call prolongs so long. We do system design thinking and solution options during back log refinement. How should we keep the technical details out of product backlog refinement? What do the other teams do? what is the best practice?

08:11 am February 3, 2024

Without those technical discussions, how can the Developers understand the work that will be needed to meet the Definition of Done? Product Backlog refinement should ensure that work is ready for Sprint Planning, meaning the Developers are satisfied that it can be Done within one Sprint. Spending 10% or so of a team's working time during a Sprint on refinement may not be unreasonable. Most teams actually fail to do enough.

11:35 am February 3, 2024

Refinement is about diving into the technical details. Without some level of technical decision making, how else can the team make sure that the work is decomposed into small but valuable slices that can be completed within a Sprint and then be demonstrated or delivered to get feedback from stakeholders? Those technical decisions may also reveal new questions or ambiguities about what is being asked for that need to be resolved.

You don't say how long one of these "refinement calls" is. But unlike Sprint Planning, the Daily Scrum, the Sprint Review, or the Sprint Retrospective, refinement is not an event. It's an ongoing activity throughout the Sprint. You can find alternate ways to perform refinement. As an example, one team that I worked with would have a meeting scheduled for 1 hour each week. At this meeting, they would update each other on refinement done as individuals or small groups since the last meeting, identify Product Backlog Items they believed were sufficiently refined and ready for development and Product Backlog Items that need more refinement, and divide into small groups to do that refinement and update the rest of the team the next week. Individuals were spending, on average, 3-4 hours each week on refinement outside of the 1 hour. call.

There are no best practices in a complex domain. I shared one practice that worked for some teams that I've worked with, but other teams preferred other solutions. Rethinking the structure of refinement and working with the teams to find the best way to achieve the objectives will help you find the practices that work for your team.

03:18 pm February 5, 2024

Thank You Thomas! That makes sense.

Thank You,


05:15 pm February 5, 2024

I had one team that did not have any scheduled group time for refinement.  They all, including the Product Owner, committed to spending time 3 days a week to review items in the Product Backlog.  They would all make comments in the Product Backlog Item and have asynchronous conversations there.  If there was a need for a group discussion, they would put it together and have it.  But again, there was nothing scheduled for the team to refine.  

As @Ian and @Thomas point out.  There is not a "right way" to do refinement.  It can vary by team.  The only "condition" is that it occurs, the Product Backlog Items are understood by all, and that each item is of a size that can be completed within a single Sprint. 

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