Backlog grooming to take you from prophecy to realizing worth!

By / September 26, 2016 /
From prophecy to realizing worth


As a product owner, it is important to understand the worth of backlog refinement in building a high performing team. Grooming the backlogs is a sound investment as it helps in delivering value sooner, enhance productivity and build better collaboration; all of which help build a strong foundation for top-geared performance from the team. Understanding the significance of backlog refinement and executing the same, greatly helps in moving from prophecy to actual realization of worth.

Backlog refinement helps you gear up


Before moving further, let us understand what backlog refinement is and how it helps. In layman terms, refinement of backlog is a process of analyzing and slicing stories in a way that makes the backlog items ready to be used for sprint planning. To enable the team to detail, estimate and order backlog items, it is necessary that the product owner grooms the backlog items regularly. This enduring refinement not only optimizes the productivity of the team but also assists in swift and incremental delivery of product value.

If backlog refinement in agile project management is so necessary, why do teams struggle to execute this task? Where is the problem? The teams fail, when time is wasted in backlog items that are either too complex to be put into action or too insignificant when compared to the overall value of the product.

Value is the key


Value is delivered successfully via a product, if it is well aligned to the overall product vision and goals. This means that a fair return in exchange for time, money and services is to be delivered to make the product a success. It is assumed that the product owner has collaborated with all the stakeholders to refine backlogs. Backlog refinement requires tough decisions as it not only requires the product owner to balance the perspective of all the stakeholders with respect to value involved but also to analyze how value changes with evolving market conditions and customer needs.  There is no doubt that value is the key. Value based decisions on backlog refinement requires thorough collaboration between the product owner and the team.

A holistic approach

As per EBG Consulting’s, Discover to Deliver: Agile Product Planning and Analysis, every product has 7 product dimensions:

  • Functional: User, Action, data and Control.
  • Non-Functional: Interface, quality attribute and environment.

These 7 product dimensions provide a comprehensive understanding of the product in question. This holistic approach explores these 7 dimensions emphasizing that no single dimension is self sufficient and the totality of all 7 are necessary. It thus helps in enhancing the understanding of the team with respect to backlog items for Structured Conversations.

Structured conversation helps slice for better delivery of value

The question now is that what is a structured conversation and how it helps? For efficient working, the teams need a mechanism which encourages exploration, evaluation and confirmation while backlog items are being groomed. This systematic and continuous approach is called structured conversation.  It is a useful tool for better group collaboration and enhanced innovation.


In a structured conversation, the team first explores options for backlog items across the 7 product dimensions, which is then evaluated further. The team then evaluates a subset of high value options and assembles them in cohesive valuable portions. The conversation is not considered complete until everyone involved knows how to confirm their shared understanding. Refining using structured conversations with 7 product dimensions enables teams to focus on valuable stories that are sized appropriately to be estimated and completed within a sprint. Such conversations also enable specifications that supplement complex user stories.

The overall goal of achieving better stories not only helps in delivering faster to the customer for enhanced customer satisfaction, but also improves team motivation and happiness.

Worried about not being able to refine backlogs appropriately? Looking for an Agile dedicated team to manage work flow flawlessly? Miracle Group offers its clients, agile qualified teams that provide the best software services and solutions and are completely dedicated to their tasks.

“The blog is based on the blog written by Ellen Gottesdiener and Jeff Sutherland entitled “Backlog Refinement Takes You from Vision to Value”


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