In this article, we touch on the topic of scrum practice Backlog Refining meeting: bullet points and a step-by-step guide on how to conduct a Backlog Refinement Meeting in Slack on the basis of the best Slack standup bot – Standuply.

Business requests always go beyond the ability of teams to implement them. In this way, the practice of Backlog Refinement Meeting (Management) helps to control an ever-growing backlog.

So, in Scrum, the product owner is responsible for processing requests and creating a backlog. So with ideas accumulating, the backlog becomes overloaded and continues to grow. Meanwhile, it is more difficult for the team to focus and effectively plan precious time to complete the most useful tasks.

In order to take into account the most important things —  new ideas and priorities — the backlog should be regularly reviewed. To do this, hit Backlog Refinement (Grooming) — meetings with the product owner and the scrum team participation, during which the contents of the backlog are updated for the next sprint.

How backlog refinement meeting looks like

Benefits Of The Regular Backlog Refinement Meetings:

  • Helps to avoid a situation where lower priority tasks are performed instead of more important ones.
  • Checks whether the task is consistent with the acceptance criteria (DoR).
  • Identifies risks involved.
  • Gives the team clarity about the requirements and tasks, as well as simplifies the next sprint planning.
  • Provides the product owner, stakeholders, and team members with the opportunity to clarify requirements and change task priorities, if they need to.

Backlog Refinement: Who Conducts And When

According to the Scrum Guide, updating the backlog can take up to 10% of the sprint time. It can be one Backlog Refinement meeting or several shorter ones. Some teams prefer to hold it 2-3 days before the next sprint planning, others meet once a week. In this case, meetings on planning and updating the backlog alternate, and if you run them on the same day every week, you can settle into a regular rhythm that helps the team perform effectively. However, the product owner can update the backlog items at any time.

Meeting Roles:

  • Product owner – prepares a product development plan and backlog items for the meeting, completes user stories and backlog items, and sets priorities.
  • Scrum Master – facilitates the meeting.
  • Stakeholders and team members – propose new product ideas, decompose and prioritize the backlog items.

What Makes Backlog Refinement Meetings Effective

Scrum Masters Reveal Their Secret Practice

Scrum masters have a secret recipe for effective Backlog Management in agile teams. And as you might guess, the most important thing is always the simplest. So, during the Backlog Refinement meeting, the Product Owner should come to the window and open it as wide as possible – then the wind will blow some stickers away from the task board. Those dried glue stickers that have flown away are really old tasks coming up for revision. That’s the point – those very tasks do not need to be done, but revised.

This method is just a joke actually but as they say, there is a grain of truth behind every joke 🙂

Anyway, the joke sends a deep message – if you want your user story to be settled down in the backlog, it must meet all DoD and DoR criteria. Therefore, the secret souse to effective Backlog Refinement Meetings is to clearly set those criteria. Unfortunately, many teams suffering from ever-growing backlog turn a blind eye to it.

DoD and DoR shouldn’t be redundant but sufficient. So in the world of scrum, it is believed that a perfect user story should be placed on one single sticker (covering all who, why, and how questions). If it doesn’t fit on the sticker, then you have an epic (complex task) that requires decomposition.

backlog refinement meeting notes

So, drawing brief conclusions on an effective Backlog Refinement Meeting:

  1. Clearly define the DoD and DoR criteria for task evaluating
  2. Prioritize those tasks, set the pace and the course of performance
  3. If the task is complex, it is necessary to break it into several simpler ones

Following these principles, the Backlog Refinement in agile teams puts on autopilot and always runs efficiently. In this way of well-coordinated workflow, high performed teams, especially remote ones, are turning to Slack standup bots that assist not only in Backlog Refinement but also in Retrospectives, Daily Standups, and other scrum practices.

Best Backlog Refinement Tool

Digital SCRUM Standup Bot Standuply

The most popular scrum tools are Slack and Microsoft Teams standup bots which are beneficial for both remote and office working. In this way, Standuply performs great!

Standuply is a Virtual Agile Development Assistant that carries out all scrum events on a high level. Above all, being smoothly implemented into Slack and Microsoft Teams our standup bot is a solid choice of 35 000+ companies along with a 4.5-star rating on Capterra, a 4.8 rating on G2and the top of the Remote Tools list.

In addition to Backlog Refinement meetings on autopilot, Standuply is quite a good standup bot-intermediary for live scrum meetings as well: 

  • Standuply collects answers before the Backlog Refinement Meeting begins;
  • delivers poll results to the Scrum Master in DM / email / shared channel in Slack;
  • and then sends all team members a link to a video conference.

Slack Backlog Refinement Tool Advantages

Break time zones boundaries – run scrum meetings async

Keep flow in agile – develop a pattern of effectiveness

Set out of box – user-friendly management

See Poll analytics & Agile charts performance

Slack Backlog Refinement Tool by Standup bot

First of all, open your Standuply’s personal account and click the “Backlog Grooming” button when selecting from our list of pre-filled templates.

There you can also meet Standuply’s multiple choice of all scrum ceremonies pre-filled templates Standup Meetings, Planing Poker, Backlog Grooming, and more. 

📌If you’re curious, read this guide to learn more about Standuply scrum features.

backlog refinement meeting at standup bot

Then set Scheduling, select Respondents, and the way how you want results to be delivered. Standuply Backlog Grooming reports are fully customizable, you can tweak any option your team needs.  

How to run report with backlog refinement meeting

In the Respondents & Questions bar, select people you want to participate in Backlog Grooming and your team’s task tracker. In this case, Respondents get a Slack Standuply Backlog Grooming survey on tasks.  

Integrate backlog refinement meeting with task trackers

Set Results Delivery, and hit the “Run and Done” button.

See Slack Backlog Refinement in action:

backlog refinement meeting results

When all answers are provided team members can reply to each other (if they need to follow up or clarify something) by creating threads and conversations without disrupting other teammates. Also, a video conference could be automatically launched right after the sprint Slack Backlog Refinement with Standup Bot Tool. So team members can comment on their answers 

Finally, scrum master gets report results via DM, Slack Channel, or email.

Features In Backlog Refinement Tool by Standuply

Set up the type of response (single/multi-choice, text, task tracker ticket)

Change the response waiting time, include an unlimited number of reminders

Add conditions (“if the respondent answered X, then do Y”) 

Start a video conference right after the report

Select the way how the results can be delivered to people (via DM), email, and channels (private included)

Add all channel members at once

So, that’s all the main aspects of the Backlog Refinement and ways of optimizing it with Backlog Refinement tool Standuply. With all our tips in mind, you definitely make your Backlog Refinement meetings really powerful. Also, keep up with our scrum world today that is actively using various tools to refine Backlog ranging from fun scrum practices to best Standup bots Slack and Microsoft Teams.

Get started with Standuply and Run Your Free Backlog Refinement Report in Slack 

To sum up, working with Standuply Backlog Refinement Tool is very efficient and smooth. Your team can not worry about Backlog Refinement and its implementation. In fact, Standuply takes a huge part of the scrum work on itself.

Free 30-day trial with the most popular features available for Slack.

If you’re ready to get started, click here!

“We hope that you find our article helpful and dramatically improve your remote Backlog Refinement Meetings. Go ahead!”

Your Standuply Team

Artem Borodin

CPO at Standuply. PMP, CSM, CSP. Ask me a question via Standuply

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