Scrum is a great way to smash through a backlog. But where does the backlog come from, and why is it such a mess?

Great outcomes have three ingredients:

  • A great team: that’s you;
  • A great way of working: that’s Scrum; and
  • A great backlog.

If your backlog is not really good, you’re going to waste time on building the wrong thing.

Some backlogs are huge, wild and unruly, with many items that never get built. Some are minimal almost to the point of absence. There may be vague, undefinable features. Alternatively, you could have hundreds of micro-detail things that nobody cares about.

This session describes a simple approach to Building a Better Backlog. It’s based on five simple questions that focuses everyone on real customer value:

  1. Who cares? Identify your real customers – the people who will get the value.
  2. What do they care about? – What do your customers actually need? What are the actual outcomes they will thank you for?
  3. How will they know that you’ve solved the problem? What are the objective success measures for your delivery? By having actual measures, we can test which features really create value.
  4. What do we need to have? What are the delivered features that will completely and minimally meet our objective success criteria?
  5. What do we need to do? What are the activities, people, resources and commitments we need to create our features, and how does that map to a timeline?

These simple questions, captured in a lightweight framework, will give you a tight, focused, clear, and deliverable backlog.

Charles Randles