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How to Optimize Your Product Backlog

Last updated: 02.05.23
How to Optimize Your Product Backlog

In agile product development, the product backlog is the single source of truth. It contains the complete roadmap for further development and exists as long as the product exists.

As all the development work roots in the product backlog, it is vital for success to keep this artifact in good condition.

This means putting some effort into new product backlog items, adding detail to them as needed, and removing the obsolete ones. All these activities are subsumed as refinement should be done continuously by the whole agile team.

But the most crucial factor for a successful product is the prioritization and organization of the product backlog to deliver the most value to your customer. A good way to do this is to craft challenging and achievable goals that are well aligned with the product vision. After this is done the product backlog items can be clustered into viable releases in view of these goals.

One technique to identify and organize the content of the product backlog is Impact Mapping.

By iteratively applying the following steps the big picture of the product evolves.

  1. Identify the goal(s) of the product
  2. Look for people or roles who influence the outcome or are influenced by it
  3. Think about how these people — the actors — can contribute to the success of the product or prevent it. These actions are the impacts.
  4. Deviate the product deliverables paying in on the impacts.
  5. Define measurements for (sub-)goals

By continuously revisiting and updating the impact map you keep your backlog tidy and the road to success unfolds itself.

Team working together to optimize their product backlog

Do you want to learn more about how to optimize your product backlog? 

Join our product backlog workshop hosted by me and enjoy the following content:

  • Criteria for a good product backlog and its items
  • How to prioritize the product backlog
  • Release planning in an agile environment
  • Manage your product backlog using Impact Mapping
  • Tips on estimation and risk assessment
  • Hands-on exercises
  • Get valuable peer feedback

I look forward to sharing my experience and getting to know your highs and lows regarding your backlog working routines.