Backlog Grooming and Sprint Planning: What’s the Difference?

Backlog Grooming and Sprint Planning: What’s the Difference?

Backlog Grooming is one of the most important activities performed during the sprint planning meeting. A typical backlog grooming session can last two hours or more, but it pays big dividends by improving product quality and team performance throughout the remainder of the sprint .

What is Backlog Grooming?

Backlog grooming is a process in which requirements are examined, questioned, clarified and revised as needed before they’re deemed ready to be included in a sprint. In a Scrum environment, this takes place during a multi-hour meeting that occurs every few days – typically between iterations – each time an inch closer toward completion. The goal of backlog grooming is to achieve clarity within requirements so that all team members have a shared understanding about what will be developed next. This enables them to make effective commitments and be as transparent as possible with stakeholders and product owners and decide who can execute the work of the sprint backlog.

The backlog grooming process is where requirements are examined, questioned, clarified and revised as needed before they’re deemed ready to be included in a sprint. Photo credit: Flickr user woodleywonderworks How do you know if your product backlog grooming needs attention? If your team’s velocity has stagnated or is trending downwards, there’s a good chance that the quality of your backlog – and subsequently its grooming – isn’t up to snuff . After all , the more unclarified and/or confusing requirements you have, the more likely it is for them to become misaligned and misunderstood within the team during sprint planning – which obviously doesn’t bode well for iteration success. This not only results in longer iterations, but can also contribute towards team members becoming disengaged and stressed. However, if you’re interested in reaping the majority of Scrum’s benefits , then it’s important to have a product backlog that has been properly groomed according to the needs of your project before being deemed ready for sprint planning . In other words, there are a number of things your team should avoid doing in order to ensure high quality requirements both pre- and post-backlog grooming.

Differences between Backlog Grooming and Sprint Planning are:

1. Backlog grooming is typically performed by the Product Owner or development team , while Sprint planning is performed by the whole scrum team.

2. Backlog grooming results in a ranked list of backlog items for each product backlog, whereas during sprint planning the team determines which work to take on next.

3. During Sprint planning, relative priority and order of backlog items are discussed, while during backlog grooming effort and size estimates are created .

4. There is no commitment made during backlog grooming: it can be changed at any time depending on newly discovered information, whereas the team commits to the agreed-upon items selected during sprint planning.

5. Backlog grooming happens asynchronously with respect to sprints; Sprint Planning occurs before each sprint (with some overlap), Backlog Grooming is an ongoing activity that may occur during sprints.

6. Backlog grooming involves analyzing requirements; backlog items are created at Sprint Planning and refined in the daily scrum.

7. Once a product or sprint backlog item has been groomed, it cannot be changed without going through the grooming process again: while a new user story enters a sprint via a new task on the team’s task board .

8. Product owners and teams use backlogs for planning purposes to identify which work should be developed next: Scrum teams may have one or more product or sprint backlogs depending on how granular they wish to be for their planning purposes .

9. The priority of product backlog items determines the sequence in which they are worked: The product owner prioritizing product backlog items based on the business value and risk each item represents to the product.

10. In Scrum, a sprint backlog is a subset of the product backlog maintained by the scrum team for Sprint planning purposes only: Sprints have their own sprint backlogs that are not seen or managed by anyone outside of the Scrum Team .

11. Prioritize user stories from the top of the product backlog move down into lower priority groups as they move closer to being implemented : top priority items at the start of a project become lower priority as more detailed specifications are revealed via working with real users .

12. Developers can estimate time spent on tasks during daily standup meetings without breaking scrum rules : developers are not allowed to estimate time spent on tasks, this is for the development team as a whole .

13. The Scrum Team decides which user stories it will implement into Sprints : user stories are prioritized by the product owner and selected from the top of the product backlog for implementation in Sprints .

14. When a sprint backlog is created, its contents represent all remaining work that needs to be done to implement previously prioritized user stories: Sprint Backlogs contain only work that can be completed within one sprint , nothing more or less .

15. During daily stand-ups, no discussions involving future development activities should take place: User Stories and Tasks should NOT be discussed in daily stand-ups.