Product Backlog

Product Backlog

Product Backlog is one of the 3 artefact defined in the Scrum Framework as per Scrum Guide 2020. It is a single source of all the work that goes into the product. It is guided by its commitment: Product Goal. Product Owner is accountable for the Product Backlog. 

Artefacts in the Scrum are there to enable transparency. These artefacts gets inspected and adapted during Scrum Events. 

Scrum has 3 Artefacts

  • Product Backlog
  • Sprint Backlog
  • Increment

Product Backlog is a single source of all the work that goes into the Product. This can include requirements, features, user stories, bugs, defects,  experiments, hypothesis, ideas, use cases and anything that makes the product. 

It is a living artefact i.e. it is ever-evolving. Items gets added, removed, edited regularly as more is learned. If a Product lives, Product Backlog also lives. 


Accountability of the Product Backlog lies with the Product Owner. 

Product Owner make sure that Product Backlog contains the information/details that are essential for the success of the product. 

However, Product Owner is a very demanding accountability especially when the product starts growing. In such cases, some of the product backlog responsibilities could be delegated to other Scrum Team members, but Product Owner remains accountable.  


Each Scrum Artefacts has a commitment. For Product Backlog commitment is the Product Goal. 

Product Goal is a long term objective that guides the emergence of the Product Backlog. 

Focus is very important in Scrum. To enable focus for the product development, the can be only one active Product Goal at a time. Scrum Team must abandon or accomplish a Product Goal before starting working on the next. 

This is very similar to game of football (or soccer). A team can only hit one goal at a time. 

Product Backlog Refinement  

Product Backlog Refinement is a mandatory activity in Scrum. This activity involves: 

  • breaking big items into smaller ones so that they can fit in Sprints
  • adding details such as size, order, value, dependencies, descriptions 

This activity makes Product Backlog Items ‘ready’ for next Sprints. Ineffective or no Product Backlog Refinement could results into poor Sprint Planning. Ultimately this could results into poor outcomes at the end of the Sprint.  


Product Backlog Management Tips 

  • Golden Rule: If there is one Product,  there must one Product Owner, one Product Backlog. No matter how many Scrum Teams are working on that product. 
  • Keep the Product Backlog open and transparent for the Scrum Team and the stakeholders. This important to make right decisions. 
  • There is no single factor to order the Product Backlog. Good Product Owners consider multiple factors such as value, risk, size, business cohesion, technical cohesion. Hence, Product Owner needs collaboration with other members of the Scrum Teams and also stakeholders. 
  • Don’t add all the detail in one go. Details emerges/changes as more is understood. Use the Product Backlog items as a vehicle for starting conversations.