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How To Run A Backlog Review Meeting

A Backlog Review Meeting should be run by prioritizing tasks, engaging team members in discussion, making decisions based on team’s capacity and project value, and updating the backlog regularly for efficiency and productivity.

A Backlog Review Meeting, often referred to in the context of agile project management and software development, is a session where the team, along with the product owner or customer representative, reviews, prioritizes, and refines the backlog items. The backlog consists of user stories, use cases, or requirements that need to be accomplished in a product or project. These meetings aid in aligning the team’s efforts with the highest business value tasks, help in detailed planning, promote collective decision making, and improve product improvisation and adaptation to changes. Regular and effective backlog reviews are critical for the successful implementation of agile methodologies.

What is the purpose of a Backlog Review Meeting?

The purpose of running a backlog review meeting as a leader is to assess the progress of tasks in the backlog, prioritize upcoming work, and ensure alignment with the team’s goals and objectives. It allows for effective communication, decision-making, and collaboration among team members to drive productivity and deliver high-quality results.

How To Run A Backlog Review Meeting: Step-By-Step


Step 1: Preparation

Before the Backlog Review meeting, the project manager or scrum master should verify that all development team members can access and grasp the current project backlog. This entails a thorough review of every item in the backlog to ensure full visibility and comprehension. They should actively highlight key tasks and dependencies, clarify uncertainties and align everyone’s understanding to set the stage for productive discussions during the meeting.

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Step 2: Prioritization

The backlog review meeting involves a comprehensive discussion where the team reviews, scrutinizes, and prioritizes items based on significance or urgency. The goal is to decide the sequence of tasks for the impending sprint, thus ensuring vital tasks are strategically handled for optimal productivity.

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Step 3: Discussion

Each agenda item should be thoroughly examined, welcoming thoughts from all team members. Integral points such as the item’s complexity, the resources it necessitates, any potential risks it carries, and its overall timeline should be deliberated. Moreover, potential issues or tasks that come up during discussions should be addressed and subsequently included in the backlog for future attention.


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Step 4: Estimation

Following comprehensive discussions on each item, a projection on the amount of energy and time necessary for each task is essential. It assists in systematically assigning tasks among the team and establishing realistic deadlines. An accurate estimation of effort and time benefits in allocating resources effectively to ensure optimal productivity and prevents any possible burnouts.

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Step 5: Approval

Once prioritization and estimations for tasks are finalized, it is the project manager/scrum master’s role to validate the defined decisions for each task. They should address any discrepancies or conflicts that may arise, guaranteeing that all alterations are collaboratively discussed and agreed upon by the relevant team members. It’s essential that all decisions be mutually accepted to ensure a harmonious and productive workflow further down the line.

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Step 6: Documentation

For effective post-meeting follow-up, all agreed-upon decisions should be comprehensively documented and made available to every team member. This keeps everyone updated on the backlog status and clearly outlines their individual responsibilities. It fosters accountability, enhances transparency, and ensures progress continuity remains unhindered within the team.

Questions to ask as the leader of the meeting

1. What are the priority items in the backlog? – This question helps the leader understand which tasks should be tackled first, ensuring that the team is focusing on the most important and impactful items.

2. Are there any dependencies or blockers? – By asking this question, the leader can identify any obstacles or dependencies that may be affecting progress or preventing certain tasks from being completed. This helps in problem-solving and removing blockers for efficient workflow.

3. Are there any high-level estimations for each item? – This question helps the leader gauge the complexity and effort required for each item in the backlog, enabling better resource allocation and planning.

4. Are there any upcoming deadlines or time-sensitive items? – The leader needs to be aware of any deadlines or time-sensitive tasks to ensure that the team is adequately prepared and can deliver on time.

5. Is the backlog aligned with the overall project goals? – This question ensures that the backlog is in sync with the project’s objectives and helps the leader prioritize items that contribute directly to meeting those goals.

6. Are there any recurring issues or areas for improvement? – By asking this question, the leader can identify patterns or recurring problems that need to be addressed, fostering continuous improvement within the team and the backlog management process.

7. Are there any items that can be deprioritized or removed from the backlog? – This question encourages the team to evaluate the relevance and necessity of each item, preventing the backlog from becoming overcrowded and ensuring that only essential tasks are prioritized.

8. Are there any adjustments needed to the backlog based on recent feedback or changing requirements? – This question helps the leader stay updated on any modifications or adjustments required due to changing circumstances, new information, or feedback gathered during the project’s lifecycle.

9. Are there any anticipated risks or challenges associated with the backlog items? – It is essential to identify potential risks or challenges beforehand to proactively plan for mitigation, allocation of resources, or adjustments to ensure smooth progress.

10. Do team members have the necessary skills and resources to tackle the backlog items? – The leader needs to evaluate if the team possesses the required skills, tools, or resources to effectively work on the backlog. This helps in identifying any gaps and taking necessary actions to support the team in their tasks.

As a leader, preparing a backlog review meeting agenda requires careful planning. Start by reviewing the current backlog and identifying the most pressing items. Prioritize them based on importance and urgency. Set clear goals for the meeting, such as discussing backlog items, addressing any blockers or dependencies, and determining next steps. Share the agenda with team members in advance to ensure everyone is prepared and can contribute effectively to the discussion.

How To Prepare For A Backlog Review Meeting
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During a backlog review meeting, it is essential to discuss various topics such as prioritization of backlog items, clarification of requirements, estimation and sizing of work, identification of new items, and resolution of dependencies or blockers. This meeting also provides an opportunity to gather feedback from stakeholders and ensure alignment between the team and the product goals.

See Our Backlog Review Meeting Template
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Software tools to facilitate a Backlog Review Meeting

Software helps leaders run backlog review meetings by facilitating efficient tracking and management of tasks. It provides a centralized platform where leaders can view, assign, and prioritize backlog items. With automated alerts and notifications, software ensures that team members are aware of their assigned tasks and deadlines. Furthermore, it promotes collaboration and transparency as leaders can easily communicate with team members, track progress, and make data-driven decisions.

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Running an efficient Backlog Review Meeting does not need to be a daunting task. With adequate preparation, clear communication, and by leveraging the right strategies such as setting clear goals, prioritizing effectively, promoting active participation, and staying focused, these meetings can be incredibly productive. A well-run Backlog Review Meeting serves to bring the team up-to-speed on project progress, streamline tasks, and align everyone towards the common goal. Ultimately, mastering such meetings can significantly contribute to enhancing productivity, fostering innovation, and propelling your team towards success. Practice these tips for your next meeting and experience the difference.

Popular Questions

What is a Backlog Review Meeting?

A Backlog Review Meeting, also known as Backlog Grooming or Refinement, is a meeting where the product owner, along with the team, reviews items on the backlog to ensure the items are prioritized, and are ready for the upcoming sprints, based on the goals and capabilities of the team.

Who should attend a Backlog Review Meeting?

The meeting generally involves the Scrum Master, Product Owner and the Development Team. Other stakeholders may also attend the meeting if invited and necessary.

How often should a Backlog Review Meeting be held?

While the frequency may vary based on specific project demands, it is common practice to hold backlog review meetings on a consistent basis, often once every sprint, which is typically every two to four weeks.

What happens during a Backlog Review Meeting?

During a Backlog Review Meeting, items on the backlog are reviewed, discussed and prioritized. The team may break down larger items into smaller, manageable pieces, estimate effort for items, and decide what should be put into the next sprint. The main aim is to make sure that the backlog remains updated, prioritized and valuable.

What is the main purpose of a Backlog Review Meeting?

The main purpose of a Backlog Review Meeting is to ensure that the items in the backlog are defined clearly, are estimated accurately, and are properly sequenced in priority order. It provides a platform for the team to align on what needs to be worked on next, thereby keeping the backlog manageable and the project on track.