Sprint backlog is one of Agile principles that use team performance to meet sprint goals. First, enter the target into Sprint Backlog then use backlog items for tasks. We use a relative sizing system that is very effective for this purpose. This is not the only way to use Sprint Backlog, It provides you an option to choose what works best with your team and product type. So use Sprint Backlog effectively.
Sprint backlog is one of Agile principles that means to use team performance to meet sprint goals. First, enter the target into Sprint Backlog then use the backlog item for the task. We use a relative sizing system that is very effective for this purpose. This is not the only way to use Sprint Backlog, It provides you an option to choose what works best with your team and product type. So use Sprint Backlog effectively.
Prioritize Product Backlog Items
Product backlog items are work or ideas which will be done in future sprints. Each team member volunteers themselves for doing some specific tasks in upcoming sprints so that they can use it as a reference point while working on the current sprint development cycle . Here all team members use backlog items as a task for themselves and use a relative sizing system. They use it as a point of reference while working on a project development cycle. This will only be managed by the person who owns the sprint backlog.
We use sprint backlog effectively by prioritizing product Backlog items. This helps us to determine which Product backlog items will be done first or later, this helps us to know what is the relative status of each Product Backlog Items. To use this more effectively we use a relative sizing approach by which we can give size points to each backlog item based on their order of priority.
Another important thing is how many items should be completed in a single sprint? The answer depends on the velocity of your team which you can calculate by taking the average number of stories completed per sprint. Some teams use a minimum number which usually lies around 2-3 whereas some others use maximum number like 25 -30 stories per Sprints with higher velocity i.e., 20+ story per sprint.
A good rule of thumb is use 10-12 stories for a two week sprints so that you can benefit from the feedback collected during the following Sprint Review Meeting.
To use sprint backlog effectively, use color coding, priority numbering and use it as the sprint staging board. Let’s see how we can use these elements effectively to use sprint backlogs effectively.
Color code items in the backlog
To use sprint backlog effectively in software product development methodology you should color code your product backlog items so that it can be easily identified by everyone on the team which includes Scrum Master, Product Owner(PO), Development Team etc. I use orange for normal requirements which are not time bound i.e., non-release related requirements like new features or enhancements followed by yellow for release related requirements like fixes or stabilization of existing features followed by navy blue for bugs (we use Bugzilla to track them). This helps me to decide what kind of request is eligible for a particular sprint.
I use the following convention to use the backlog effectively:
(orange) New Feature or Enhancements should be followed by a release related requirement should be followed by a bug fix which should be released as soon as possible. In other words, if you have an orange item then you should have either a release related item or a bug fix in the next column.
See below example from our backlog: Including R code items in Product Backlog is very important as it helps us to track overall progress and monitor which areas need focus, regardless of whether it’s for new product development or enhancements/ fixes on existing products. Using this technique we keep our product backlog meaningful and use sprint backlog effectively leading to better ROI because we monitor where we are spending time. Whenever there’s a team huddle, it gives us an opportunity to identify the features that might be blocked by pending work and use that backlog effectively for planning out sprints. Not only this but it also improves coordination with R&D/ PMO teams as they use the same product backlog for their own purposes.
One thing you must remember is not to use sprint backlog if you have lack of information or do not have proper estimates towards story points. If you are still working on Product Backlog then use it sparingly i.e., create separate columns for R code items . It may look very messy when you actually start doing so, however after a few weeks it will come handy in many ways.
I hope this article will be helpful to use backlog effectively in your team and use it more efficiently. There are some other important things related to using backlog items which I am going to cover in upcoming posts on different subjects like Sprint Planning Meeting, Story Writing , Testing etc. Stay tuned on Agile Sciences for more interesting posts on effective use of Scrum methodology.