Skip to content

Backlog Refinement


What are the intended outcomes of the ceremonies?

Backlog refinement is when the product owner and some, or all, of the rest of the team review items on the backlog to ensure the backlog contains the appropriate items, that they are prioritized, and that the items at the top of the backlog are ready for development. This activity occurs on a regular basis and may be an officially scheduled meeting or an ongoing activity.


What members of the team should participate?

Ideally all the team members could participate. This is an ongoing process in which the Product Owner and the Development Team collaborate on the details of Product Backlog items.


What positive impact has been observed as a result of this practice?

The intent of backlog refinement is to ensure that the backlog keeps updating with items that are appropriate to their priority, i.e. higher priority items are with more details than lower priority ones. Also, it is important that at any time there are enough user stories ready for planning in the next or even, where reasonable, the next two or three iterations but not too much further.


How might one measure the impact of this ceremony positive or negative?

The expected outcome from the backlog refinement is all the team members are on the same page of what they are going to implement in the next or next few iterations with priority. A positive outcome of refinement is one where each backlog item can reasonably be “done” within the sprint time. Product backlog items that can be “done” by the development team within one sprint are deemed “ready” for selection in a sprint planning.

Facilitation Guidance

How might one go about running the ceremony? Is there a general pattern that the ceremony should follow?

  • Product Owner: presents the ordered backlog and backlog list they'd like in the next iteration.
  • Process Lead: ensure the timebox.
  • Team members: ask questions and request additional details on the backlog if needed.

Make sure that the team does not focus on how to implement the items. Instead, the Product Owner and Team discuss the goals and context for these high - priority items on the Product Backlog, providing the Team with insight into the Product Owner’s thinking.

Last update: May 7, 2021