Building an Awesome Backlog

Why do we do this to ourselves?

We battled the beast from the east to meet together on 27 February 2018. I take my hat off to those that made it - well done, it was a great turn out.

In the session we wanted to create a list of stuff that our community would solve (a backlog).

Not just stuff we wanted to learn but stuff we wanted to do, things we wanted to change and ultimately save the world! Lets see how we got on...


Our community aim

We arrived at the Opencast (who kindly hosted) to the smell of tea, homemade lemon drizzle, delicious flake chocolate cake and sweet gooey flapjack. Mmmm!

The first thing we looked at was the Aim of the community. Based on the word cloud created last time we met.

We sticky dot voted on the different options and came up with a (not so) clear winner

Vision board

Vision boards are a great way of describing your product in a visual and engaging way. Collective creation of vision boards not only produces a better output but also gives all stakeholders an equal opportunity to provide input.

Guiding us through backlog creation was Tam. We took 4 big themes the community had defined in the "Product Vision Box" last month:

  • Be a Community

  • Be Stronger (at agile)

  • Evangelise

  • and Save the World!

WOW, Save the World. Yes, we really did come up with that.

We split into several teams and each team created a vision board associated with the theme assigned to them

User Stories

A Product Owner was assigned in each team who's job it was to control story creation and alignment to theme. User stories were created from the vision board:

"How" became the "I want..."

"Benefit" becomes the "So that..."

and "Measures" acceptance criteria.

User stories done!

Unicorns and Princesses

What do we want to achieve as a priority? Let's keep it simple: Sticky dot voting.

Everyone was given three sticky dots and asked to vote on the user story they would like to be highest priority.

But what about the product owners I hear you say! Surely they should have a greater level of control of the priority of their backlog. They did. they were given princess sticker each. A princess sticker promoted the story one place up the backlog...phew, everyone happy.

Sticky dot voting is a way to quickly prioritise as a group. Unique stickers (Princess, Pirate, Unicorn) is a way to get increase buy-in from influential and key stakeholders - use them wisely!

What we learnt

It does not take long to create a backlog

Have a clear product vision, clear themes and a collaborative approach and someone like Tam guiding you and you're well on your way.

It won't be right the first time

...but it doesn't need to be! We'll keep refining the backlog, changing priorities and understanding more about what we want to achieve.

Concluding thoughts

An awesome backlog is not perfect, in fact its far from perfect but it helps to shape what you are creating - in our case a welcoming community to share experience and understanding (and Bagels!).

Hope to see you there next time.

If you would like further information or feel the Agile BA community may be able to help you, feel free to get in touch - It's good to natter!