Have you ever heard of project backlog? If you are from the IT sector and work with software development then certainly the term is familiar and heard frequently. After all, it is from this that applications and systems come to life in the hands of information technology teams.

Briefly, project backlog is a list of tasks required for delivering a product or implementing improvements. When combined with agile methodologies, it helps guide projects, set priorities, avoid waste and set deadlines, among other benefits.

Want to know more? Continue reading and learn!

What is project backlog?  

It is a list of tasks (or pending tasks) created within strategic planning and that meets all the desired requirements for the product; prioritized according to the urgency of delivery and value to the customer. It is also named product backlog.

Its goal is to guide the scope of work of IT teams, organizing priorities and spotlighting those responsible for tasks, as well as delivery times. It can be used both for the development of new applications or systems and for the implementation of improvements in existing products.

The concept often comes tied to agile methodologies, such as Scrum, which divides deliveries into cycles called ‘Sprints’. From there, the product owner responsible for the project and for making the interface with the client, passes on guidance to the team.

How and why refine a project backlog?  

For the backlog to bring about effectiveness to the project, it needs to be reviewed periodically. It’s what we call backlog refinement or grooming. Both mean cleaning, preparing or tidying up. In a nutshell, it’s keeping everything organized for the development team, with detailed descriptions of each item and estimates.

It is up to the product owner to sort and detail these priorities before the start of each Sprint in order to avoid wasting resources and time. To do this, they must take into account what is most urgent and what will bring greater value to the client, in addition to faster Return on Investment (ROI).  

The refinement walkthrough looks like this:

  1. Have the priorities at the top, followed by the other tasks in order of importance;
  2. Remove unnecessary or nonsensical items and processes for the project;
  3. Add new items discovered in alignment meetings, remembering to signal the degree of priority in the project backlog;
  4. Drill down further into all the tasks on the list and acceptance criteria, especially those at the top, to guide team deliveries;
  5. Break the large items in the list into smaller tasks for ease of planning, as well as execution and delivery.

Finally, have regular meetings to refine the project backlog and keep the team engaged. The periodicity will depend on the degree of maturity of the team and the product being developed. Watch your team and set the time that makes the most sense for you.

How do I track the progress of IT teams?

Using a backlog of agile projects and methodologies helps you track your team’s progress. After all, the tasks have deadlines from start to finish, in addition to alignment meetings during each Sprint.

Thus, it is easier to evaluate the productivity of IT teams collectively or individually because the whole team is integrated into the project flow, meaning that one knows what the other does. This degree of transparency helps increase productivity and reduce delays.

Therefore, the better the refinement of the project backlog (organization of priorities, level of detail of tasks, breaks, removal and inclusion of items), the more optimized the delivery would be. With the support of agile methodologies, the team works in a more aligned and efficient way as well as having greater flexibility to propose alternatives and receive the guidance of the product owner.

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