The Secret Life of B’s (Backlogs)

Published on
May 10, 2024

Pop quiz!

Is the primary purpose of a product backlog to:

  • Collect product backlog items
  • Visualise all the work needed to deliver a product
  • Order work and improve focus

Chances are you know a lot about product backlogs. You’ve probably heard about Product Backlog Items, INVEST criteria, user stories, and 3 C’s to name a few.

Of course, clear product backlog items are critical to a team’s success.

Often we overlook the ultimate purpose of a backlog: prioritisation and focus.

Despite the science on the costs of multitasking, there is a constant temptation to work in parallel. (When was the last time you watched TV without looking at your phone?)

Multitasking has been shown to decrease quality, create a chronic distraction, and procrastination. 50+ years of scientific research have shown you do less and miss information when you’re multitasking. Up to 40% less!

Your product backlog is a tool to help you fight the urge to work in parallel and multitask!

A queue of work in Kanban, if prioritised, works in a similar way.

Backlog checklist

Here’s a quick checklist to assess if you’re getting the most out of your product backlog:

  • Product Backlog Items (PBIs) are clearly ordered in a single list
  • The top priority PBIs value is clearly understood
  • The team is working on the highest value items
  • Work in progress is limited
  • PBIs are done by the end of the sprint

If you want to gain up to 40% efficiency improvements - start with Product Backlog ordering. See how your team’s focus increases and enjoy the results.

Want a refresher on the Product Owner role or start a career? We invite you to join our accredited course - Professional Scrum Product Owner Training.

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