How To Run A Sprint Backlog Refinement Meeting

In a Sprint Backlog Refinement Meeting, the team collaborates to detail the backlog items for the next sprint by breaking them into granular tasks and estimating effort, ensuring they are in a ready state for Sprint Planning.

A Sprint Backlog Refinement Meeting is a regularly scheduled event in Scrum where the development team and product owner collaborate to discuss and review user stories and tasks that have been added to the sprint backlog. The purpose of this meeting is to ensure that the backlog items are clearly understood, properly estimated, and have all the necessary details and acceptance criteria. The team may also re-prioritize or split user stories, break them down into smaller tasks, and clarify any questions or uncertainties. This meeting helps in preparing the backlog items for inclusion in upcoming sprints and ensures that the development team is well-prepared and aligned with the product owner’s vision and requirements.

What is the purpose of a Sprint Backlog Refinement Meeting?

As a leader, the purpose of running a sprint backlog refinement meeting is to ensure that the team has a clear understanding of the tasks and user stories planned for the upcoming sprint. This includes reviewing and prioritizing the items in the backlog, estimating effort required, and making necessary adjustments. The meeting allows for effective planning and collaboration, ensuring that the team is aligned and prepared to deliver value.

How To Run A Sprint Backlog Refinement Meeting: Step-By-Step


Step 1: Preparation for the Meeting

During preparation for the meeting, the product owner, scrum master, and development team review the product backlog, sprint goal, and current sprint progress to ensure effective collaboration and progress towards project objectives.

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ZipDo, our creation, makes team meeting preparations effortless by providing a centralized location for all information from previous meetings. Meeting leads can easily access this data, including agendas and notes, ensuring a well-prepared and comprehensive meeting agenda.

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Step 2: Attendance Gathering

The scrum master takes responsibility for ensuring that all participants – the product owner, development team, and themselves – are present in the meeting, resulting in effective collaboration and decision-making.

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Step 3: Review of the Sprint Goal

The product owner initiates the meeting by revisiting the sprint goal. This serves as a gentle reminder of the overarching objective that the team is working towards during the current sprint, keeping everyone focused and aligned.


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Step 4: Review of Completed Tasks

In order to ensure that all tasks have been completed properly, it is essential to review each task and ensure that it meets the agreed-upon criteria for being considered “Done.” This step helps maintain quality and accountability in the project.

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Step 5: Prioritization of Remaining Tasks

The product owner uses significance, dependencies, and team capacity to identify and prioritize the remaining tasks in order to effectively manage the project’s progress.

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Step 6: Backlog Item Discussion

The detailed discussion of the remaining backlog items offers a comprehensive analysis and description, delivering all the essential information required to initiate the assigned task with precision and clarity.

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Step 7: Estimation of Effort

The development team estimates the effort required to complete the remaining tasks, which helps in properly assigning responsibilities and planning for each sprint in the project.

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Step 8: Allocation of Tasks

Tasks are assigned to team members based on their expertise and availability, ensuring that each person is assigned a task that aligns with their skills and that they have the capacity to complete.

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Step 9: Dealing with Impediments

Discuss any challenges or obstacles that are slowing down the completion of the Sprint tasks and propose strategies to effectively address and overcome them.

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Step 10: Action Plan Development

Once the Sprint backlog is reviewed, a comprehensive action plan is formulated to ensure the completion of the remaining tasks within the given timeframe. This plan encompasses all necessary steps, resources, and timelines required to successfully achieve the desired outcomes.

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Step 11: Closing the Meeting

After the meeting, the scrum master provides a concise overview of the meeting’s results, outlines the necessary next steps, and establishes a timeline for the next meeting.

Questions to ask as the leader of the meeting

1. What is the goal for this sprint?
Explanation: This question helps the leader understand and ensure alignement with the team’s overall objectives and the specific outcomes expected from the current sprint.

2. Are there any new user stories or items to be added to the backlog?
Explanation: The leader asks this question to ensure that all team members have an opportunity to share any new ideas or requirements that should be considered for the backlog and potentially added to the current sprint.

3. Do we need to re-prioritize any items in the backlog?
Explanation: This question aims at identifying any changes in priority based on new insights, market demands, or feedback. It helps the leader optimize the backlog items for maximum value delivery.

4. Do we have the necessary information and resources to complete each backlog item?
Explanation: The leader’s role includes ensuring that the team has the necessary information, resources, and skills to successfully complete the sprint tasks. This question helps identify any existing gaps or obstacles that need to be addressed.

5. Is the acceptance criteria clearly defined for each backlog item?
Explanation: This question ensures that there is a clear understanding of the work needed to fulfill each backlog item. It helps the leader and the team avoid any misunderstanding or miscommunication and maintain a shared vision of the expected outcomes.

6. Are there any dependencies or blockers that could impact the sprint progress?
Explanation: By asking this question, the leader encourages the team to raise any potential obstacles or dependencies that could hinder the progress of the sprint. It allows the team to proactively address such issues and find appropriate solutions.

7. Are there any risks or challenges that we should be aware of?
Explanation: This question prompts the team to consider potential risks or challenges that may arise during the sprint. It enables the leader to evaluate the overall sprint approach and make necessary adjustments to mitigate such risks.

8. Do we have a clear understanding of the effort, time, and resources required for each backlog item?
Explanation: The leader asks this question to ensure that the team has a realistic estimate of the effort and resources needed to complete each backlog item. It helps in setting achievable expectations and avoiding potential overcommitment or underestimation.

9. Are there any other concerns or questions that need to be addressed?
Explanation: This question provides an opportunity for the team to share any additional concerns, questions, or suggestions that may not have been covered by the previous questions. It ensures that all team members have a voice and their input is valued.

10. Are the sprint goals and backlog items still aligned with the overall project goals and priorities?
Explanation: The leader asks this question to re-evaluate the sprint goals and ensure that they are still aligned with the wider project goals. It helps maintain focus and deliver value that aligns with the organization’s strategic objectives.

As a leader, preparing a sprint backlog refinement meeting agenda is crucial for an efficient and productive session. Start by reviewing the team’s progress and identifying any new user stories. Prioritize items based on their importance and potential impact. Determine the duration of each item and allocate time accordingly. Encourage collaboration and discussion to ensure a shared understanding of the tasks. Finally, establish specific goals and outcomes for the meeting to maintain focus and drive towards successful sprint planning.

How To Prepare For A Sprint Backlog Refinement Meeting
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During a sprint backlog refinement meeting, the team should focus on discussing and clarifying the user stories and tasks that are slated for the upcoming sprint. The meeting should cover any questions, concerns, or uncertainties related to the user stories and their acceptance criteria, as well as the estimated effort required to complete each task. Additionally, the team can discuss any dependencies or technical considerations that may impact the sprint planning and execution.

See Our Sprint Backlog Refinement Meeting Template
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Software tools to facilitate a Sprint Backlog Refinement Meeting

Software helps leaders run sprint backlog refinement meetings by providing a platform for collaboration and organization. With features like task assignment, progress tracking, and real-time communication, leaders can efficiently prioritize and refine the backlog. This software simplifies the meeting process, ensuring that teams are aligned, productive, and able to deliver high-quality work within the sprint timeframe.

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In conclusion, the sprint backlog refinement meeting is a crucial activity in agile project management. It allows the team to review and revise the backlog items, ensuring that they are well-defined, estimated, and prioritized. By dedicating time and effort to this meeting, teams can effectively plan and execute their sprints, leading to successful project delivery.

During the sprint backlog refinement meeting, it is important to involve all team members, encourage active participation, and maintain a collaborative atmosphere. By fostering open communication and leveraging the collective knowledge and expertise of the team, the backlog can be refined to a high level of quality.

Additionally, using techniques like user story mapping and backlog grooming can enhance the effectiveness of the sprint backlog refinement meeting. These techniques help the team visualize the workflow, identify dependencies, and prioritize backlog items based on value and effort.

It is important to remember that sprint backlog refinement is an ongoing process, and it should be conducted regularly to adapt the backlog to changing project requirements. By continuously refining the backlog, teams can ensure that they are always working on the most valuable and feasible items.

Overall, the sprint backlog refinement meeting is a key practice that enables teams to stay focused, organized, and aligned with project goals. By implementing the strategies and tips discussed in this blog post, you can run a successful sprint backlog refinement meeting and drive your agile project towards success.

Popular Questions

What is a Sprint Backlog Refinement Meeting?

A Sprint Backlog Refinement Meeting is a pre-sprint planning meeting attended primarily by the product owner, the scrum team, and the scrum master. The purpose of this meeting is to review, revise, and update the items in the product backlog in order to prepare for the next sprint.

How are items chosen for the Sprint Backlog during the Sprint Backlog Refinement Meeting?

During the refinement meeting, features, enhancements, and other backlog items are reviewed and prioritized based on the value they deliver to the project and their alignment with its goals. Items for the next sprint backlog are then chosen based on their priority and the estimated effort needed to complete them.

How long should a Sprint Backlog Refinement Meeting take?

The duration of a Sprint Backlog Refinement Meeting depends on the size of the project, the complexity of the work, and the efficiency of the team. However, it should not take more than 10% of the team’s total time for the previous sprint.

What is the role of the product owner in a Sprint Backlog Refinement Meeting?

The product owner leads the refinement meeting. They present the backlog items, provide clarification on the requirements and needs, prioritize items based on their importance to the project, and make final decisions on what should be included in the next sprint backlog.

Why is a Sprint Backlog Refinement Meeting important?

A Sprint Backlog Refinement Meeting is essential to agile project management. It ensures that the team is focusing on the most important tasks, that there is a clear understanding of what needs to be done, and that the upcoming sprint planning will be as productive and efficient as possible.