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Importance of Backlog grooming in Agile Methodology

Track: Community & Business | Skill level: Beginner

All ceremonies in Agile are important but in my opinion control over your backlog is most important.

This session should be highly useful for the inspiring and new Product Owners.The level of knowledge needed is beginner to intermediary.

As a budding Product Owner, I would like to compare my experiences on running two projects as a Product Owner. Both had challenging customer, with limited budget, but they wanted to have rich and complex functionality to be rolled out during the initial phase of the project.

We started the project with Customer A with set of agreed requirements. After the first sprint demo there was lot of feedback which was added to the backlog but the customer was adamant to have their feedback implemented immediately. In order to soothe and achieve customer delight we added all the feedback and change requests into the current sprint. This became pattern and with each demo came the new requirement, hence we deviated from the list of agreed items and it made project status go critical. Customer was then unwilling to pay for the extra time and feedback incorporated because we had lost the track of original scope, and crossed the existing timelines and finally the project collapsed.

Keeping in mind the learning from Customer A, we started a new project with customer B. We keenly listened to the customer, understood their business problems and kept evolving the backlog via continuous backlog grooming meeting. Backlog was prioritized and agreed at regular intervals with labels like Most valuable items, Good to have items, Items must have before launch.

We utilized the Sprint zero(Discovery) for technical spikes and clarifications. This enabled us to look through the vision of the product and setting up the initial ground. We then generated different versions of Release plan, with different scope, requirements and costs. Release plans were then presented and agreed with the customer. This helped us attain common understanding of the end goal of the project.

Sprint demos and other agile ceremonies were holistically played. Changes and feedback were always welcomed but ad-hoc changes were restricted inside the current sprint. Future Sprints were proactively pre-planned, by defining the priority and by looking-ahead for the sprint scope. These helped team to concentrate on the core functionalities.

Escalations regarding sprint scope, time etc were timely raised. Current status of the project was shared at regular cadence with the customer via release burn-downs, projecting the project end dates with the scope changes, keeping all stakeholders aligned with scope and timelines. Continuous backlog grooming sessions were done even at the later stage of the product along with prioritization to keep the backlog health and scope aligned with the product vision.

Our highest priority was to satisfy the customer through delivery of a Most valuable software with the required scope and timelines.

Keynote Speakers

Matt Glaman

Matt Glaman

(Saturday keynote)

Matt Glaman is a developer at Commerce Guys. He is an open source developer who has been working with Drupal since 2013. He is author of the Drupal 8 Development Cookbook, maintainer of, and lover of Irish Whiskey.

Twitter: @nmdmatt

Jeffrey A 'JAM' McGuire

Jeffrey A. "jam" McGuire

(Sunday keynote)

Jeffrey A. "jam" McGuire—Evangelist, Developer Relations at Acquia—is a memorable and charismatic communicator with a strong following at the intersection of open source software, business, and culture. He is a frequent keynote speaker at events around the world. He writes and talks about technology, community, and more on weekly podcasts and as a blogger on This all helps satisfy his inner diva, which he also feeds with performances as a storyteller and musician.

Twitter: @horncologne

Danese Cooper

Danese Cooper

(Sunday closing keynote)

Danese Cooper currently serves as chairperson of the Node.js Foundation. She also works in an open source role at PayPal. Previously she was Director of the Open Source Hardware Association and CTO of the Wikimedia Foundation. She had brief stint at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as a consulting open source strategist. She has been involved with open source since 1999.

Twitter: @divadanese

CxO Day Speakers

Sarah Wood OBE

Unruly Co-Founder (CEO)

Sarah Wood

David Axmark

Co-founder of MySQL

David Axmark

Ben Finn OBE

Co-Founder of Sibelius and CEO at Stealth Poker

Ben Finn

Barney Brown

Head of Digital at Cambridge University

Barney Brown

Professor Andre Spicer

Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Cass Business School City, University London

Andre Spicer

Paul Reeves

Reevo UN Limited

Paul Reeves



CxO Day

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