What is a product backlog?

The scrum guide defines the product backlog as "an ordered and emergent list of what is needed to improve the product."

Unlike the specifications drawn up at the beginning of a project, the backlog is built throughout the product's life.

At the launch of each increment, at the end of one or more development sprints, the Product Manager enriches the backlog with product feedback from end users, the emergence of new requirements, an evolving company strategy, technological innovation, etc.

Ultimately, everything that makes up the product will have been referenced in the backlog.

To complete the product development for which a backlog has been created, a person must be in charge.

Who is responsible for the product backlog?

The Product Manager is responsible for the backlog and generally refines it with the whole team, which will mature the user stories so that they are ready to be taken over by the developers.

The backlog must meet specific characteristics.

What are the characteristics of a product backlog?

The product backlog has some remarkable characteristics, which are highlighted as such:

  • Public: the whole organization must have access to the product backlog; it is a question of visibility.
  • Reduced: the product backlog must be fairly short, generally between 40 and 60 items.
  • Ordered: the items are ordered by decreasing value, i.e., the item representing the most value comes first.
  • Unique: only one product backlog per product!
  • Living: the Manager can reorder the product backlog according to the emerging needs of the product.
  • Emerging: the backlog is never complete; it is dynamic, it changes constantly, and it is always possible to add new items and new features.

Product backlog

Identify the needs

First, it is necessary to establish the project's vision, i.e., to clearly define the project's objective and list the different actors.

A backlog must be well structured. And how do you organize it?

A product backlog can be organized by :

  • theme: logical grouping of a certain number of topics defined by the Product Manager. There is no absolute rule as long as the organization is optimal. These famous themes are then broken down by feature.
  • feature: grouping of user stories. Each feature will represent a large functional block, i.e., a large functionality on the product. These functionalities will be divided into items, also called user stories.
  • user story: user stories - items - tasks or backlog items are different names that represent improvements, evolutions, fixes, features, functions, or bugs.
  • subtask: the development team, in the scrum, will split all the items into technical subtasks during the sprint planning or even into bug subtasks.

The use of a backlog shared with all project stakeholders offers the means to reference all the functionalities to be implemented, develop them, and follow the evolution of the developments. However, you must avoid common mistakes, such as using several backlogs on a single project.


What does product backlog mean in agile?

In Agile development, a product backlog means a prioritized list of deliverables (such as new features) that should be implemented as part of a project or product development.

What the product backlog includes?

It includes new features, bug fixes, improvements, changes to existing features, and other product initiatives.

What is a product backlog in agile scrum?

In Agile development, a product backlog is a prioritized list of deliverables (such as new features) that should be implemented as part of a project or product development. It's a decision-making artifact that helps you estimate, refine, and prioritize everything you might, sometime in the future, want to complete.

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