At w3nuts there are no top dogs. We all work together to get things done. That is why we like SCRUM. However, having clear roles and responsibilities can make life easier. While the SCRUM Owner looks out for the content of an application, the SCRUM Master is the main port of call for major decision making. Having said that, the Owner is responsible for the Backlog which we will address in this article.
A backlog is a still to do list. When a project starts, there will be a long list of things to do. Typically, far too many to be completed within one sprint. The owner will need to sit with the team and priorities these projects. Here are a few properties that a good backlog will contain.
  • Only items that add value to the customer should be added. Too often the developers will think of something to add, however the customer may not see, use or understand the functionality as the developers does. That is why it is important to only put what the customer wants in the backlog.
  • Every product needs to be prioritised. This can be done in terms of value that the product adds to the application, the overall cost of implementation or the associated risks.
  • Only the products that are due to run within the next sprint should have granular detail. Allow lower priority projects to have more fluid detail as it is likely that they will change before they are included in the next sprint run.
  • Allow for everything in the backlog to be an estimation. This will allow for more definition to be incorporated at a later stage.
  • Ensure that the backlog is a live document. Projects are always being added, modified or deleted from the live backlog document.
  • Everything that appears on the backlog must be actionable. Allow the team to add details on how the product is to be completed and never micro manage a project within the backlog.
The maintenance of the backlog is the teams responsibility. When ever a new product is considered it can be added to the backlog. When a product is added, the entire backlog must be re-priorities with updated estimations. Those at the top of the backlog should be added to the next sprint. While the Owner is responsible for maintaining the backlog, the team should be spending 10% (4 hours a week) updating and working on the backlog. It is important that the backlog is a collaborative process.
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