Backlog Refinement: Myths & Facts

Backlog Refinement is often seen as the fifth Scrum Event. However, as I mentioned in my article talking about non-Scrum practices, this is not true. Backlog Refinement is an activity instead of an actual Scrum Event.

In this video, I’d like to talk about what refinement is and isn’t, and what you can do to make it more productive.

scrum guide pdf

Get the guidance you need to succeed in your first days as a Scrum Master of a new team

Grab the Scrum Master Startup Guide – the ultimate guide to implementing Scrum in practice. It gives you tools and practices, ready-to-use templates and talking points. All-in-all, it give you everything you need to be a great Scrum Master.

How to do Backlog Refinement

So if there is no official meeting that is focused on refinement, how are you supposed to do it? I have a few suggestions that can help you with it.

Daily 15-minute activity

If your team is diligent enough to take this on, you can make Backlog Refinement a daily task that is scheduled every day, for example, right after the Daily Scrum.

That way no other meeting would intervene, and it’s easy to remind everyone about it since the team is meeting beforehand anyway.

Working agreements

Another way to keep refinement as an activity instead of a regular meeting, is to put it into the team’s working agreements. It can be something along the lines of: “Notify the whole team when you make changes to the Product Backlog” and “Review all new changes in the Product Backlog coming in“.

That, of course, can only happen if the team is fully committed to these agreements.

Regular meetings

And the last approach I have, is the one that is often taken as a Scrum Rule: schedule a regular meeting with your team. (Psstt… it’s not a Scrum rule! Just making sure we’re on the same page)

Usually, the teams I work with have weekly 1-hour Backlog Refinement meetings. This helps them stay focused on their work, while also allowing them some time to go over the Backlog.

This may be the right approach for your team as well. Just be wary of cancelling this meeting all the time which usually becomes a problem.

There is one more tip I can give you to make your Refinement meetings more productive.

What can often happen is that the team comes to the meeting completely unprepared, and the time runs out before they even got a chance to really understand what’s in the backlog.

To combat that, set the first 10 minutes of the meeting aside for preparation. During this time, everyone explores the Product Backlog individually and in silence, before jumping into discussion.

So a question to you:

How does your team conduct Backlog Refinement? What tools and practices worked in your case?

Share your answers in the comments below šŸ‘‡

More Articles That You May Like

Technical Debt for non-techies

I remember when I first heard the term “technical debt” I just didn’t understand what those words meant. I was

About The Author

Hi, my name is Daria Bagina. Iā€™m a Professional Scrum Trainer with Scrum.org and a practicing Scrum Master. I help teams and organizations to get the most out of the Scrum and Agile implementation by sharing my personal stories and practical advice.

Connect with me on:

One Response

  1. Good way to go about it. This is usually what I do with the teams I work with