Product Owner Backlog Blues

How to work through common product owner scenarios that can cause an unhealthy product backlog

Lauren St.Jean
Jan 12, 2018 · 5 min read
  • The items are less than 9 month old
  • There are 1–2 months of work ready to go for the team to work on
  • Includes tech debt, bugs, and new feature work
  • There’t not a product owner
  • Too many product owners

Product owner doesn’t have a strong vision

This can lead to a backlog with too much on it because the product owner is constantly changing their vision or a backlog that is sparse because the future of the product is uncertain, causing the team to hold on week by week.

There‘s not a product owner

This is a tricky one, but you can work through this. Usually, this is only for a short period of time due to restructuring, individuals moving on, or because the team is an internal team that supports a platform.

Too many product owners

This can often happen with internal tools or platforms that many departments of the organization consume. This situation in particular can be very stressful on the team. It usually leads to having too many items on the backlog from too many stakeholders. This causes the team to still be reactive because they are rushing around to find stakeholders for more information.

Definition of Ready

  • Stories are well written and clearly understood by the whole team
  • Acceptance criteria
  • Small, vertical stories
  • Estimated
  • Technical & design direction
  • Dependencies resolved
  • No impediments to beginning implementation
  • Have all the stakeholders get together to assign a business value of 0–100 to the stories on the backlog, and a number cannot be used more than once. This keeps everything from being 100 or 90 and allows all the stakeholders to see the backlog based on business value rather than just work important to them.

Web.com Engineering and Product Design

From the hackers, inventors & creators who help small businesses succeed

Thanks to David Kaplan.

Lauren St.Jean

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Agile Coach: Disturber of the status quo and facilitator of continuous improvement

Web.com Engineering and Product Design

From the hackers, inventors & creators who help small businesses succeed