Product Backlog Refinement (grooming) is a key activity for any Agile team.  In this episode, I share some tips and recommendations for successful refinement sessions.

After listening to this episode, you'll understand:

  • Why product backlog refinement is a key activity for success
  • The benefits of slicing work into smaller chunks
  • Why you shouldn’t refine your entire backlog
  • What is means for a backlog item to be ready 


A healthy backlog is critical to an Agile team.  Without it, the team will experience confusion and delays as they struggle to undertake large initiatives with unclear goals.  To create a healthy backlog, teams can undertake an activity known as Product Backlog Refinement.

During refinement, the team works together to break large items (such as epics) into smaller components and develops a shared understanding of the backlog item.


Once an item is added to your team’s Product Backlog, it should be prioritized.  Prioritization helps the team to focus their refinement efforts on the nearer term, higher priority items.  If we focus on items farther down on the backlog, it’s likely that it will be wasted effort since those items are likely to change.

During refinement, larger items are sliced to create better clarity and transparency into progress.  It’s important that when we slice backlog items, we create vertical slices through the various layers of the technical stack.  This allows the team to learn faster and uncover issues sooner.  It also accelerates the delivery of future slices.

You’ll also refine and clarify acceptance criteria, identify dependencies, and develop a shared understanding of the backlog item during refinement.

Most teams also size the backlog items during refinement.  Estimating backlog items helps the team to understand if items are right-sized and creates another opportunity for developing a shared understanding.


As an output of Product Backlog refinement, you should have a number of ready items.  Ready implies that the backlog item is small enough, well understood, and the team is comfortable starting work on that item.  Ready means that the backlog item can be planned for a future sprint (for Scrum teams).

Many teams create and use a Definition of Ready to identify the criteria that should be true for a backlog item to be considered ready.

Listen to the full episode to get all of the recommendations for backlog refinement, learn more about the Definition of Ready, and to find out what you shouldn’t do.



Thank you for listening to the program

To get more valuable content to enhance your skills and advance your career, you can subscribe on iTunes and other podcatchers.

Also, reviews on iTunes are highly appreciated! I read each review and it helps keep me motivated to continue to bring you valuable content each week.

.Subscribe on iTunes  Listen on Google Play Music  Available on Stitcher Radio  Subscribe on Android