How do I run Backlog Refinement

Backlog Refinement is a critical part of good practice in Scrum. Refining the Product Backlog ensures that the Team and Product Owner have sufficiently defined Product Backlog Items so that Sprint Planning runs more smoothly and without surprises. 


Backlog Refinement doesn’t serve empiricism directly, but makes the Product Backlog (one of the three artefacts in Scrum) more transparent in terms of what is likely required to deliver the work.

Scrum Teams often hold several refinement sessions throughout the second half of the Sprint. Typically, the more of the timebox that is used the better prepared everyone is for the next Sprint.

Who attends?

  • The Product Owner.
  • The Agile Team (also known as the Development Team).
  • The Scrum Master.
  • Interested stakeholders and subject matter experts.

What does Backlog Refinement involve?

The Product Owner:

  • Presents the objectives for the upcoming Sprint and how it relates to other Sprints.
  • Provides information regarding changes to budget, stakeholder and user feedback, and other information that clarifies the state of the Product Backlog.

The team:

  • Discusses the Minimal Viable Product(s) inherent of Product Backlog items with the Product Owner.
  • Estimates each of the Product Backlog items in turn using techniques like Planning Poker.
  • Discusses any points of divergence in relation to the estimate of effort for each Product Backlog items.
  • Breaks-down the Product Backlog items into smaller pieces, through collaboration with the Product Owner, to ensure that each item can be committed to for completion within a single Sprint.
  • Communicates to the Product Owner any consequence relating to what is being asked for and its rank-order for delivery, including any technical, design or business debt that may be incurred as a result.
  • Discusses any re-prioritisation of items in the Product Backlog as a result of the refinement activity.

Download the Backlog Refinement Checklist

About the author

Related Posts

What to do when a User Story is 'not done'

Teams love to get credit for their efforts, but is that what you should do if a User Story gets 1/2 way there but doesn’t get to Done in the Sprint? What should you really do with the remainder of the work?

search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close