Creating cross-team collaboration with Multi-team Product Backlog Refinement

Roland Flemm
OrgTopologies™
Published in
9 min readSep 25, 2023

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This article focuses on refining the Product Backlog with multiple teams at the same time: multi-team Product Backlog Refinement (aka mt-PBR). The goal of mt-PBR is to maximize information sharing and collaboration during Product Backlog Refinement. We bring all development teams together in one refinement session instead of having teams conducting separate refinements.

Refinement in Scrum

The Scrum guide mentions refinement, but does not elaborate much on how to do it:

“Product Backlog refinement is the act of breaking down and further defining Product Backlog items into smaller more precise items. This is an ongoing activity to add details, such as a description, order, and size. Attributes often vary with the domain of work.” (Scrum Guide)

When we develop a product with more than one team, the Scrum guide suggests to have one single Product Owner and One single Product Backlog:

If Scrum Teams become too large, they should consider reorganizing into multiple cohesive Scrum Teams, each focused on the same product. Therefore, they should share the same Product Goal, Product Backlog, and Product Owner. (Scrum Guide)

This suggests a move towards the higher archetypes (B and C levels) as per Org Topologies™. Maybe that is too scary or simply not what you want. However, even without transforming your organisation, you might want to explore and…

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Roland Flemm
OrgTopologies™

Making the working place of software development less miserable