Skill Level Intermediate
- Have you ever heard of the phrase "You can't see the forest through the trees?" Well, that's what will happen if you don't consider the big picture when managing your backlog. Let's talk about how you can maintain a lean backlog. First, select the top 10 items that you plan on doing in the next few sprints. And force rank them one through 10 in priority order. And make sure these 10 items are pretty well refined and elaborated on. Make sure your top 10 items are ready with acceptance criteria and dialogue already happening amongst the team to create a shared understanding.
Next, select the items that are in the next release or next upcoming features. These should be about 30 items or less, depending how small and broken down they are. No need to prioritize this group. Knowing that they're in the midterm view for the next release is enough. You can prioritize them into the near view or the top 10 just in time as the team progresses and these items become top 10 priorities. Third, put the rest of your items into the long-term bucket.
Or remove them from the backlog altogether. The long term bucket is for larger items we have in our vision and on the roadmap, but have not yet been decomposed, refined, or prioritized. Remember, remove items that don't ever seem to get prioritized and don't align with the goals of the product. Always work carefully with the extended stakeholder group to communicate your decisions on what's being removed and why. It's normal for backlogs to change and evolve, but they still need to be put through some rigor to make sure they're healthy and in good shape.
After all, your backlog is a holistic set of items. Not just the to do list. Put these tips into practice. And make sure yours is healthy and in good shape. It will help the team collaborate, work at a sustainable pace, and ensure the work accomplished matters.