An Agenda for Backlog Grooming

London Zoo - The Hairdresser
When training and coaching teams to use Scrum, I'm starting to put more emphasis on Backlog Grooming - having the whole team maintain the Product Backlog during the Sprint, so that it remains in good shape, the team keeps a grip on the vision for the project, and there are no unpleasant surprises when it comes to Sprint Planning.

Inspired by "Collaboration Explained" and Roman Pichler's blog post, I created a general purpose agenda for backlog grooming, that so far has worked quite well:

  • Opening - help people arrive physically and mentally, review the agenda, do a quick round robin check in, review actions from last grooming.
  • New Learnings - what have we learned that we want to capture in the Product Backlog? Ideas for new stories, obsolete stories, significant changes to content, estimates or priorities?
  • Prepare for Next Sprint - identify the stories that should go into the next Sprint Planning and make sure they will be prepared according to the Definition of Ready.
  • Identify Stakeholders and Dependencies for Next Sprint - focus on the question: looking at the stories selected for the next Sprint Planning, who needs to be invited to that planning meeting?
  • Risks for Upcoming Sprints - looking further ahead, what are the upcoming risks? Which of them should be addressed now, and how - for example by splitting stories, by scheduling investigations, spikes etc.?
  • Closing - any open ends that need to be addressed? Review Action Plan. Mini-Retrospective, e.g. Plus/Delta.
What are your thoughts on this agenda? What do you do in Backlog Grooming? How would you change this agenda for your team(s)?

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