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.

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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 canceling 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.

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About the author

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

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