Agile Team and what is a Backlog ? Why are the backlogs for and why are they important

AGILE TEAM

In a Agile project , the people take one or more roles and he or she can also change their roles over the period of time.Agile considers all the team members as equal and everyone works to deliver the project regardless of their role. The following are the important roles which every agile team comprises of (Ambler & Holitza,2012,page 8)

1. Stake holder : A Stake holder is the person who is financially impacted by the outcome of the solution and can be a senior manager , an auditor , a program manager or even a IT staff member.

2. Product Owner : A Product owner is the person who represents the needs of the stakeholder community to the agile team.He develops strategy for the project and manages product requirements.

3. The Business owner who communicates with the stakeholders , the product owner and the scrum team members.

4. Scrum master is the person who manages the scrum team and takes requirements and other details from the business owner.

Apart from the above mentioned team members the other important team members include the Domain expert , specialist , technical expert ,  testers and integrator. The following figure best describes the team members of an agile team

a468-f1-scrum-team2

The two important characteristics of a great agile team are that they are stable and cross functional.

WHAT IS A BACKLOG ? (“Scrums Product Backlog” , Para 6)

“The product Backlog is an ordered list of everything that might be needed in the product and is the single source of requirements for any changes to be made in the product” 

The term ” product backlog comes from the agile method ‘Scrum’. In simple terms a product backlog is a prioritized features list containing short descriptions of all functionality desired in the product.The product backlog is managed by a person with the ability to understand the business needs. It is typically used to

  • capture requests for modifying a product.  This can include add new features, replacing old features, removing features and fixing issues; and
  • ensure the delivery team is given work which maximizes the business benefit to the owner of the product

The product backlog consists of :

  • user stories – representing new functionality; and
  • bugs – representing work to address a defect.
  • Technical work
  • Knowledge acquisition

If an item on the backlog doesn’t contribute to the success of project’s goal , then it must be removed and if any feature or a task is considered important for the project , it should be added to the backlog . The backlog is not a requirement’s document.

WHY IS A BACKLOG IMPORTANT AND WHAT ARE THEY FOR ?

The features of a product are listed in the backlog and the items in a backlog are completed in series of sprints. If later if any requirement comes up , it can be accommodated in the backlog. The following figure briefs that :

BacklogFeedbackLearning

The product backlog  is made to be visible to everyone so that everyone can know what is going on and places high emphasis on Collaboration and surprises. It is a single source and copy of truth .It’s important for the source of requests to be centralized because the entire list needs to be ordered.A single copy is needed because we want to avoid multiple people updating the backlog at the same time, with the consequence that those updates conflict. Resolving conflicting updates can be difficult.It’s dynamic nature allows the requirements and features to be added at the later stages too.

backk

The product backlog is important because it provides the following features for the project. The terms DEEP and INVEST are coined to explain its importance :

How backlogs played an important role in our project : (Wikstrand,2010,para 4).

The product backlogs are important for any agile project and this is how the backlogs helped us

Our backlog was Detailed Appropriately , Emergent in nature, Estimated delivery time and Prioritized items are clearly mentioned which helped us to refer to them and proceed in the right direction.

  • In our project we developed the backlog item independently, otherwise we couldn’t have moved it around in the time.
  • The whole team was responsible for negotiating  the specifics of the backlog item with the customer. This affected the schedule as one of the things that can be negotiated with the customer is the scope and any further breakdown of the item.
  • Our backlog was divided based on a user perspective, not a systems perspective. For example : We have incorporated specifications in backlog which is achievable by users and not purely based on system.
  • Our backlog items are estimated and used them to schedule our project.
  • Our backlog items are small enough to fit several of them in one iteration.
  • It was possible to know when we are done with our backlog item by testing it. This affects the schedule as it defines when an item is done.

invest

These features of product backlog make the agile process and the projects to be successful.

Reference :

  1. Mansour.M.Scrum’s product backlog – Agile requirements management.Agile Bench. Retrieved from http://agilebench.com/blog/the-product-backlog-for-agile-teams
  2. Wikstrand.G.(2010,October 25).Agile requirements and the agile backlog. Retrieved from http://www.gregerwikstrand.com/blog/requirements-and-backlogs/
  3. Scwaber .Kand Beedle.M.(2002).Agile software development with SCRUM. p33. Prentice Hall.
    1. Ambler,S.W. & Holitza,Matthew.(2012) Agile for Dummies,IBM limited Edition.New Jersey,NJ: Wiley.
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