In this page I will use the terms Backlog Refinement Session but this is also known as Grooming Session or Backlog Management. All represent exactly the same thing. Grooming session is the is the most well known and popular one though but read the Attention box for more information.
WarningSomething to keep in mind is the fact that even though the word grooming is widely used, it has bad connotations, that is the reason why Backlog Refinement applies better in this context.
What is a Backlog Refinement?
It is an optional meeting with a bunch of purposes:
- Keep the Product Backlog up-to-date:
- New Tasks or User Stories.
- Get the Backlog ready for the next planning session:
- Delete obsolete tasks and stories.
- Split task into smaller ones.
- Re sorting tasks.
Rule of ThumbContinuous backlog refinement is an enabler for incremental product delivery while staying flexible.
Benefits of a Backlog Refinement
- Remove uncertainty and unknowns of user stories and tasks.
- Increase the product’s efficiency and effectiveness.
- It assists to avoid rework in development and testing.
- It identifies the dependencies within the team and helps to visualize risks.
- Save development time by providing clarity to developers and testers about the requirements.
- Effective sprint planning.
When should we do the Backlog Refinement?
Most of the time and as a rule of thumb that should happen either the same day as the planning or the day before, otherwise it is senseless, as one of the purposes of the session is Get the Backlog ready for the next planning session.
AttentionEven thought it is a good practice to have a Refinement Session (and for instance something that I encourage 100% to save meetings time), doing this Backlog Maintainance is completely OPTIONAL and you can decide to do it as part of the Planning Meeting too.
Who should be involved?
This is the Product Owner’s responsibility. The Team could be involved but it is something optional. Deciding this will depend on your team dynamics.
How long should it take?
If you are involving your team, then it should be as short as possible and a preparation from your side should happen up front in order to make the process smoother. In my case when I had to do it, I would list what needs to be done in the next sprint and with the team break down the epics into smaller pieces (user stories, tasks and sub-tasks).
- Bad connotations of the word Grooming (as explained above) refers to Child Grooming, so we should DEFINITELY STOP using this term.