A product backlog report is a prioritized list of project requirements with estimated times for their completion. The product backlog report is one of the product owner’s key responsibilities to create and maintain.
Breaking Down Goals and Maximizing Product Value
The overall goals of a project are usually determined by an organization’s customers, users, and vendors, and are many times expressed in marketing terms. The product owner breaks down these goals or visions into smaller segments that are usually more technical in nature. These only segments are then prioritized and become the project backlog report which is a series of tasks for the project’s Scrum development team to accomplish.
Since the product owner represents all stakeholders in the project, it is his or her responsibility to maximize the value of the project. He or she does this by trying to have the development team complete first those segments that are likely to have maximum product value and can be released to the user.
Getting User Feedback Early
By releasing completed segments of prioritized work first, portions of your product reach the market faster than in traditional projects where all completed work is released to the user at the end of the project. This is important because user feedback comes back a lot sooner, and many times while the rest of the project is still in progress. This feedback usually means there is a likelihood adds, changes or deletes will have to be incorporated into the project’s tasks. But, because it comes early, that means the alterations can usually be made at a lesser cost.
Product Owner's Responsibilities
The product backlog report is the responsibility of the product owner, but it may be delegated. A product owners team may even be created. If this is done one member of the team only should be designated as spokesman. This will be the only person members of the Scrum development team go to with questions.
It is important for the product owner or his or her spokesman to be available to the development team to answer questions and to be open for team suggestions for improving upon the project goals. It should be remembered that in Scrum, changes are to be expected and accepted as desirable if it leads to improvement.
Besides defining the tasks in a project in the form of a product backlog report, the product owner also sets up boundaries or constraints for attaining the goals. The constraints, or limits, will almost always include completion time as the amount of time spent is a key factor in total project cost.
Development Team Handling the Product Backlog
Once the product owner completes the product backlog report the Scrum development team gets seriously involved. They pick a small number of prioritized tasks from the top of the product backlog report and create a sprint backlog. The sprint backlog is the tasks the team thinks it can complete in a fixed time period, many times a period of one month. At the end of the sprint, the selected work should all be “done” and potentially shippable to the user. Once a sprint is done the team holds a sprint review meeting where they explain to the product owner and stakeholders what was done. The team then holds a sprint retrospective meeting made up of just the team members, ScrumMaster, and perhaps the product owner. This meeting is time-boxed to three hours.The purpose of the meeting is to discuss what went well during the just completed sprint and what could be improved upon in the next sprint.
The team then selects another chunk of work from the product backlog report for the next sprint they will be working on. The process repeats itself until all the work in the product backlog report has been completed, or because of time and cost restraints put on the project by the product owner, the project comes to an early end. The point is that even if the project comes to an early end, much valuable work has been completed and in the user’s hands. In a traditional system where completed product usually isn’t available to the user until the project’s end, an early termination to the project can mean a total loss.
Agile Methodology that Works Best for Your Organization's Needs
While Scrum framework, one of the popular Agile frameworks, has been adapted by many organizations, there are other Agile methodologies that have been proven to be the right choice for other companies.
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