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Deciding on What to Include and not Include in the Product Backlog

An effective Product Owner ensures valuable items that improve the product and the customer experience are included in the Product Backlog. This means they must make decisions on what should be or should not be included in the Product Backlog. To do this well, they spend time with customers and stakeholders to learn and gather feedback from them.

The Sprint Review is the Scrum event where stakeholders and customers offer feedback and insights to the Scrum Team so that the team can inspect and adapt the Product Backlog. They do so by adding new Product Backlog items and removing those that do not seem valuable enough to pursue.

To keep the Product Backlog lean and ensure development efforts are focused on the most important items, Product Owners will need to say ‘No’ at times. Being respectful and communicating a clear message plays a big role in helping stakeholders and customers understand why certain items should or should not be included in the Product Backlog. To help with this Product Owners should:

  • Clearly communicate the current Product Goal - Explain what they are trying to achieve with the product and how the work on the Product Backlog should be aligned to this goal
  • Be empathetic and curious - They should listen to understand why the request would be important. 
  • Revisit ‘old’ Product Backlog items with stakeholders to see if they’re still relevant - These are items that have been on the Product Backlog for a while but have not been important enough to rise  to the top. 
  • Be clear and transparent in their decision-making process - Support decisions with data such as usage data, customer satisfaction, Current value, Unrealized value, etc. 
  • Know their product, customer and Product Vision



Learning Series
The Sprint Review is a working meeting where the Scrum Team presents their completed work to stakeholders and asks for feedback. The Scrum Team and stakeholders discuss the progress made toward the Product Goal, emerging changes in the business or technical climate and collaborate on what to do next
Blog Post
At a recent course, one of my attendees talked about his use of a "to delete" status for items in his Product Backlog. Where items had been in his Product Backlog for more than 3 months he tagged them as "to delete". He would then review this sub list with stakeholders as part of the ongoing Product...
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In this Scrum Tapas video, Professional Scrum Trainer Steven Deneir provides insights into how many Product Backlog Items should exist at a time in your Product Backlog, practices for refinement and how often to refine. (5:03 Minutes)
2.6 from 13 ratings

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Learning Series
Product Backlog Management is the act of adjusting and ordering items on the Product Backlog so that the Scrum Team can deliver the most valuable product possible. This learning series explores Product Backlog Management.