Backlog Item

Explained in simplest terms, a backlog stores, organizes and manages a list of things that you want to take care of in a product, arranged in the order of their priority. Thus, the most important work items should be entered at the top of the backlog list, followed by the not-so-important work items. The Backlog can contain anything from bugs to enhancements, issues, risks, stories, technical spikes, design spikes, incidents, Business As Usual (BAU) requests, Technical Debt, plus many others. Keeping the backlog clean from out of date tasks is a critical housekeeping duty. It’s important to regularly review the backlog with several disciplines involved in delivery. These disciplines often cover the Project Manager, Product Owner, Scrum Master, Technical Lead, Developers, Testers, and other interested stakeholders. In other words, it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep the backlog clean. Backlog visualisation is another important technique often overlooked. Instead of having a pile of work items in the backlog, most teams colour code them by work type, stakeholder need, or urgency. At Solutioneers, we also advise clients to lay out the backlog in horizontal rows. Each row representing a work type or stakeholder. This provides a much cleaner mechanism for teasing out competing priorities with stakeholders. Like all housekeeping duties, it’s best to keep on top of it. Reviewing and refining the backlog should be a daily task as a minimum and done in real-time, constantly, every day. There are many examples of how to visualise your backlog on our website resources section. As part of our Lean Agile Boot Camp workshop we explore many examples of how backlog visualisation can help teams to become more organised and reduce stress. One final word about backlog visualisation – you don’t have to visualise all your backlog items. Writing out 300+ cards would be futile. Instead, just write out the top 5 or 10 from each work type. This provides a useful prioritisation mechanism. The correct level of detail to write on the card is all about context but generally speaking you should be able to just write a brief title.

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