July 1, 2021

The Sprint Backlog and Transparency - Back to the foundations of the Scrum framework (07)

Scrum is founded on empirical process control, and transparency is one of the three pillars.

Each of the Scrum Artifacts exist to bring transparency to the Scrum Team and the stakeholders. If you feel that there is a lack of transparency for any aspect of your initiative, have a good look with your team at your Artifacts.

Note: transparency is way more than bringing “visibility”. It is about reaching ”a common understanding”.


Let’s take the Sprint Backlog.


Common understanding about what? 

What Product Backlog Items are selected for this Sprint?
Have you ever had that it is not really clear what needs to be delivered to achieve the goal, then here you go, bring more transparency though your Sprint Backlog.

What work do we see to deliver the Product Increment and the Sprint Goal? How will we approach this?
I often see Scrum Teams selecting Product Backlog items that are important to reach the Sprint Goal. Yet the team does not discuss and agree how they will deliver these items. The result is often that items are not delivered, not integrated, or not finished according the expected quality levels. Agree on this. And show it in your Sprint Backlog.

What process improvement will we address during this Sprint?
The Sprint Retrospective is just finished. Take the agreed actionable improvements with you. Don't overlook this is work for the team. Make these items visible. Through your Sprint Backlog.

What is work remaining for the Done Increment and the Sprint goal?
If the earlier points are addressed, this is a matter of keeping the Sprint Backlog up to date and you're just fine.

Show trends of remaining work day after day. This brings transparency in the likelihood of achieving this goal by the end of the Sprint.


Common understanding amongst who?

Amongst the entire Scrum Team. 


What else do you want to understand about the Sprint itself? Evaluate with your team how you can bring this information available through the Sprint Backlog.

Now have a look at the earlier posts about Transparency during the Scrum Events. During which of the Scrum Events will you use your Sprint Backlog to raise transparency? Really, probably during all of them, yet certainly during Sprint Planning and the Daily Scrum. 


Summary: Does your Sprint Backlog bring a common understanding about your next Product Increment to the Scrum Team?


Prompt: With your entire team, including the Product Owner, have a look at your Sprint Backlog. What does it tell you? What do people understand about what's coming in the next Increment of your product/service? What does your Sprint Backlog tell about the progress toward this next Increment? What do you agree as one team to improve the understanding about the Sprint Backlog?


I hope you will find value in these short articles and if you are looking for some clarifications, or if this raises a number of questions, feel free to take contact.

PS. Next week we'll look at the Increment and Transparency.

Don't want to miss any of these? Have the professional Scrum foundations series weekly in your mailbox.


How the Sprint Backlog supports Transparency