A product backlog is a prioritized list of alterations (new features, improvements of old features, bug and defect fixes, etc.) to a product a development team should work on to achieve specific objectives and bring value to customers. It helps companies increase efficiency, align departments’ expectations, and encourages flexibility.

In this article, we’ll unveil why product backlog is important, compare product backlog and sprint backlog, and figure out what product backlog contains. We’ll also cover how to create it and provide 6 tips to manage your product backlog effectively.

Why is a product backlog important?

Teams of professionals work on different tasks to develop new software or improve an existing one. Having a product backlog allows companies to properly distribute tasks and prioritize those tasks that need to be completed immediately. As a result, they improve efficiency. Development teams are more productive since they instantly identify tasks that require immediate action and their attention. Besides, they can plan their time and determine how much time they need to complete a task and start a new one.

Product backlogs make the development process more flexible. Once the status of a specific task changes, the item’s priority changes as well. This way, every task is visible and gets enough attention.

Lists of prioritized tasks encourage discussions among departments. Team members gather to review complex issues before their development process starts. It’s important to properly allocate resources and decide who will better cope with specific tasks based on their skills and experience. With a backlog, the company’s departments have a clear understanding and the overall status of the project. As a result, businesses reach their goals faster.

Now that you know why a product backlog is important, it’s time to make the difference between a product backlog and a sprint backlog clear since people often misinterpret these two concepts.

Product Backlog vs Sprint Backlog

People often confuse the concept of a product and sprint backlog. We’ll make the difference clear so that you can know the main features.

A product backlog is a list of prioritized tasks for the development team to work out. They include new features, design changes, bug fixes, UX issues, feature improvements, defect fixes, etc. With product backlog, the development team determines which of the alterations to the product they will carry out immediately. Departments compare the features to make sure that they are prioritized based on their strategic importance.

A sprint backlog is a list of tasks a team should complete during a short time specified for this project (sprint). These tasks are usually separated from a product backlog. It helps figure out the tasks the team will and will not complete during a specific sprint.

Now that you know the difference, let’s explore the components of a product backlog.

What does a product backlog contain?

Product backlog encompasses tasks that contribute to the development of a product. They include new features, user stories, defects, UX design issues, infrastructure changes, bug fixes, changes to existing features, improvements, and other product initiatives. These prioritized tasks have the highest priority since they are crucial for completing the development stage and, hence, a successful product.

Now that you know what a product backlog contains, it’s time to uncover how to create it.

How to create a product backlog?

To develop a successful product backlog, you need to stick to the plan. Whatever product you create, follow these steps to offer a solution end users would love.

  1. Collect great ideas. Once you have requests from customers to improve your product, you need to consider them. Use brainstorming to find some other ways to meet customers’ needs and expectations.
  2. Clarify the problem. To find the right solution, you should know customers’ needs. Review their feedback and recommendations before making any changes to a product. Once you have this essential information, make sure to include it in the product backlog so that your team members move in the same direction. Having a clear picture will allow you to meet customers’ requirements.
  3. Categorize tasks based on their priority. When the problem is clear, you can finally prioritize tasks and build a list based on the urgency of their completion. List tasks with the highest priority at the top and less important at the bottom. If some tasks have little impact on improving a product and the achievement of business goals, there’s no need to mention them in the product backlog.
  4. Revise your product backlog. As your development or product team completes tasks based on their priority, you need to update your list and reflect these changes. This way, the company’s departments will be able to focus on the right tasks and clearly understand the current situation and progress with the tasks.

Now that you know how to create a product backlog, we’ll proceed to the next section to unveil our six tips to help you manage your product backlog properly.

6 Tips for Effective Product Backlog Management

In this section, you’ll find some great recommendations to improve your product backlog. It’ll have positive a impact on your product.

  1. Choose a product strategy. To have a clear vision of your product, determine the product strategy. It encompasses target audience, positioning, competitive analysis, and market opportunities. The vision of the product will define the product backlog and its priorities. Besides, a product strategy should cover the product’s benefits and differentiation among competitors.
  2. Encourage collaboration of teams. To manage your product backlog effectively, align the work of your teams. Conduct regular meetings for teams involved in the process so that they can cooperate. This way, you can encourage brainstorming, discussion, and collaboration.
  3. Make it manageable. Often product backlogs can contain dozens and even hundreds of tasks, so the best way to make it clear is to keep it organized. You need to revise your product backlog and its deadlines periodically, identify and remove unimportant tasks that don’t influence your product quality, prioritize tasks, and add only urgent tasks you will complete soon.
  4. Schedule grooming meetings. These meetings help you keep your product backlog updated and healthy. As a result, you create a product that brings value to end users. Product backlog requires your attention regularly. By conducting meetings, you have the chance to optimize your backlog and remove unnecessary tasks. You’ll re-prioritize tasks, delete user stories, add features, review criteria, etc.
  5. Work on a timeline. Create a timeline to visualize the strategy and all the steps your teams should take. Use helpful tools to make your timeline accurate. Since the timeline changes regularly, you need to revise and adjust it. The frequency of alterations depends on your release cycles.
  6. Use ready solutions to visualize your backlog. Today business owners prefer software over paper-based backlog because of the ease of storing and editing the information. Choose one of the professional solutions to visualize the priority of tasks and manage your product backlog. Hygger, monday.com, and Microsoft Planner are among the most preferred tools for creating product backlog.

Since product backlog means a lot for the team productivity and product value, make sure to keep it in order. Use our tips and guide to create a backlog if you don’t have one yet.

References:

  1. This article defines the term and unveils its components, and provides readers with information on managing the backlog.
  2. In this article, you’ll find 6 tips for effective product backlog management.
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