What is Backlog? Purpose, composition, importance, and FAQs of Backlog.

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What is meant by Backlog?

A Backlog is a list of all the sub-tasks or smaller tasks in a project curated on the basis of priority. These tasks are a part of a long-term strategic plan or a project.
The backlog list is prepared from the roadmap and requirements of the project. 

The contents of a backlog are user stories, bug fixes, features, changes– infrastructural or functional, or other necessities and tasks involved in a project or sprint

Prioritization is the key feature of a backlog in which elements placed above in the backlog are more important and must be addressed first. 

On a regular day-to-day work basis, it won’t be wrong to say that the product backlog is more important than the roadmap

The product roadmap is a guideline to approach and perform smaller sub-tasks that are aligned to achieve the final strategic goal, but the backlog is the list of these small tasks that are steps in a roadmap so from a practical lens it is a to-do list of tasks to implement or realize the larger product roadmap. 

Backlog in Agile or Scrum 

For Agile development, the product backlog usually contains a list of tasks that are feature-driven in a project cycle. 

The backlog helps in the assessment (user and market analysis, project requirements), rectification (feature replacement or bug fixing), and prioritization of tasks and objectives.   

Agile framework backlog focus points include features, bugs fixing, roadmap, workflow, etc. 

These items are defined, selected, and prioritized by the product owner (PO) of the Agile team. 

The backlog can be arranged on the basis of user stories, themes, and features. 

It is developed through a collaboration of the development team and stakeholders, making use of the user insights. 

Creation of a backlog

The product owner prepares the backlog by selecting the required items to be put on the list and determining their priorities. To make a product backlog, the following steps and points are to be followed and considered: 

  • Put in your ideas to the list. 
  • Determine the reason behind the feature adding or removal or the bug fixes. 
  • Determine how this project will affect and contribute to the end product. 
  • Realise or describe the item specs. 
  • Prioritize the items or tasks in the list. List out high priority items, mid priority items and low priority items depending on the importance and urgency of the respective tasks or items.
  • Depending on the situation and requirements, changes shall be made to the backlog to keep it updated with the product development process

What is the purpose of a Backlog?

The product backlog is an indicator of a project’s workflow. It keeps changing and evolving throughout the project. When a certain task is completed it is replaced by the one below it or there can also be alterations in the priority order depending on the situational requirements.  

All the teams and departments involved in the development cycle make use of the product backlog for prioritization and project progress management. 

Composition of a Backlog

The product backlog is a list of tasks related to the following aspects: 

User Stories 

User stories are simple but strong ways to express and explain the product’s features and functionality from the perspective of the end-user. In the backlog, the user stories will be worked upon and detailed when they move up in the backlog list through prioritization. 

Bug Fix 

The identification and removal of bugs and errors from a computer program are called bug fixing. In the backlog, this process can be placed depending on the bug’s severity level, how much is it affecting the performance levels of the software product.

Features 

What features are to be added, upgraded, removed, and replaced. The feature selection and prioritization in a backlog help the product manager to keep a check on the feature development so that the project doesn’t add unnecessary, complex, or irrelevant features

Requirements 

Project requirements and product requirements, the backlog list includes it along with the associated tasks. 

Advantages of a Backlog

  • It helps the teams to focus and practically implement the roadmap and guidelines.  
  • Backlog supports the outlining of a bigger and vivid plan.  
  • Help the teams to keep the project on track and prioritize urgent tasks.  
  • It explains the project and subtasks and guides all the individual employees.
  • Facilitate better collaboration.  
  • The product backlog can be changed as the priorities change. 
  • It helps the team to systematically work on the project. 

Importance of a Backlog

A backlog is an important tool for product managers. The product manager prepares a roadmap that deals with varied fields of market research, data analysis on user experience, interaction, and is in communication with the sales and marketing members

All this makes up for a strategic plan which is then split into multiple projects and subtasks. Now the role of the product backlog is to organize and manage these projects and subtasks through prioritization and gives a direction to the workflow. 

FAQs

Q: What is a backlog in product management? 

A: A product roadmap can be broken down into smaller tasks, a backlog lists these tasks and implements the product roadmap on a daily basis like a to-do list that helps in arrangement, prioritization, and to monitor the workflow of the implementation of the roadmap. 

Q: Who defines backlog items? 

A: The product owner (PO) in the Agile team decides, defines, and prioritizes the items on the product backlog.

Q: What is a Sprint backlog? 

A: Sprint backlog is a type of product backlog. It consists of sprint goals (the whys), the items on the list (the whats), the measures to implement the project roadmap, and the actual execution of the tasks. These items are selected from the product backlog and are processed during a sprint. The sprint backlog item has the plan to achieve the sprint goals and the sprint backlog specifically focuses on the sprint goals whereas the product backlog focuses on the complete product goal. 

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