Product Backlog Refinement

Here I would like to talk about product backlog refinement meeting, including what activities should be in this meeting, who should join this meeting and why we need refinement meeting.

Why to have product backlog refinement meeting

As the figure above, it occurs during sprint for product backlog refinement meeting, and normally no more than 5% total time of sprint. E.g during sprint 1, Product Owner (PO) will conduct refinement meeting for sprint 2 and sprint 3. So refinement is like beam of a car, normally we should choose low-beam model, otherwise we would like to watch something far away ahead, we need to switch the headlights to high-beam model. Refinement is the high-beam model for team. (Thank Daniel Teng for above metaphor)


What to be included in refinement

There are 4 types of activities during refinement as illustrated in above figure.

  1. Add a Product Backlog Item (PBI) - a new PBI could emerge during sprint, then team should add it into Product Backlog (PB). By the way, for this new PBI, it should follow INVEST rule.
  2. Delete a PBI - if market changes, perhaps one PBI is required to remove because it cannot meet users' needs.
  3. Modify or update a PBI, another 4 kinds of behaviours:

    • Split a large user story or epic into some small user stories. Please refer to split user story methods by Richard Lawrence.
    • Re-order the PBIs according to new market chance.
    • Re-estimate new PBI or new splitted small PBIs
    • Update acceptance criteria
  4. Adapt release plan

Who should join refinement meeting

This meeting is responsible by PO, sometime PO would invite stakeholders/customers to join to clarify requirements, sometime PO would invite dev team to join to discuss technical details, and sometime PO would work on it by himself/herself.

Anything else should be related with product backlog refinement? Please leave your comments.