Developing a product backlog is a typical example of “simply said than done.” A product backlog is a catalog of product growth that your product team needs to accomplish for your product strategy to become a reality. This idea becomes challenging when a product backlog can morph into a massive collection of ideas that aren’t always thoroughly reviewed and evaluated.
These three things can prevent you from developing a good product backlog:
- Backlogs fastly become unorganized. If you collect the list of every product improvement feature that you want to execute, you might end up with an excessive mess of having a massive no of suggestions and opinions on one list. That’d become a headache and unorganized.
- The traditional backlog methods might be confusing. Most of the product backlogs utilize customer stories to identify the crucial product improvements. Customer stories don’t create a proper shape and can be interpreted in various ways by various people on the product team.
- The dedicated tool for product backlogs can solve this issue. In Earlier days, Product backlogs have been managed in tools that are not dedicatedly designed for product management. Product managers frequently manage their backlogs in Jira or, worse, a spreadsheet or other task management tools.
This article will provide you with five rules of effective product backlogs to overcome the problems mentioned above. Also, to save you from the risk of turning your backlog into an unorganized mess.
Don’t let your product backlogs fly away.
A backlog is not what you make once in some random documents and then let it fly away in some file-sharing folder. It should be a living document, which defines what you need to update and sort on a routine basis, like how you work with the active platforms for your product updates. Shape a way to make it your regular process by including weekly events in your calendar to take a look and update the backlog.
Living documents take work to manage. It's similar to how you see a book and a blog: Once you write a book and release it, you rarely update it. However, you update your product blogs regularly to showcase to the audience your improvements. Generally, You release new posts and renew old posts with new pieces of information that you have done recently.
Product excellence is commonly defined with three pillars, insights >> strategy >> execution. When you’re following this method, developing a dynamic backlog will not be as scary as Halloween. Since you’re continually hearing your customer’s needs and updating your strategy, your priorities will change. As those priorities change, you should update those chances in your product backlog too.
For instance, you prioritize the medium priority feature for your release when you first created your backlog. After some time, you might get some critical features to take care of, so you implemented higher-priority changes to your product. Here, you will forget to update your backlog if you take a rare look at it. The medium priority feature you added first will sit there. So, it's going to create a mess while you look at it after a long time without actively assessing your backlog.
Always create a backlog with certain limits applied to it.
It might be simple to let your product backlog get overwhelmed with thousand plus feature suggestions and bug fixes, but your backlog isn’t a place where you store all your anecdotic thoughts about features whatever you have. It should be a little organized with meaningful suggestions.
Instead, sharpen your backlog filled with your product improvement ideas that are likely to plan for your next release and start your development process soon. If you add items randomly that won’t go to production for an entire year, you’re just adding unnecessary baggage.
Unfortunately, it sounds “simpler said than done.” To organize your list and keep it sort, you should do two things:
- Sort of critical features by category.
Categories can help you quickly know why something comes under priority here. Quickly understanding your product priorities will stop you from including features that aren’t a priority to your product backlog. For example, if you have a handful of privacy features that need a quick fix, prioritizing them as privacy updates will make the tracking process simple.
- Fix a time frame for your backlog
If you’re a fan of the sprint method, which comes under a defined time frame, then keep your backlog focused on the current and upcoming sprint. Also, plan releases accordingly.
Utilize prioritization methods that work for you
Prioritization methods will make your product improvements process extremely simple by identifying what features to build next. These methods probably have at least two inputs, which are complexity and user impact.
Every product feature should be given ratings from the user side, explaining how much the product improvement will affect your customers and a score for complexity. Complexity scores will help you find how daunting and time-consuming it will be to develop a particular product feature.
If you’re not focusing on those two inputs, you’ll end up prioritizing features that are difficult and not demanded from the customer’s perspective.
Ideally, your high-priority product features should be the ones that are easy and have a high demand and impact from the users’ side. After you’ve worked on those high priority features, you can gradually move the list to lower-priority items by sorting out the simple features into complex ones.
After using prioritization ratings for a while, you’ll be able to identify what should take place on your backlog and what not. You can quickly identify the features that are not worth building by taking a look at ratings. Therefore, that product feature idea doesn’t belong in your backlog.
Don’t list improvements based on your customer stories.
Ample of product backlogs are mostly written in a customer story format.
For example, you might see a backlog with items listed like this:
- Website visitors should be able to register with Facebook or Twitter, or Google.
- Existing users should be able to download articles to read later.
- Existing users should be able to opt-out of seeing random advertisements.
Customer stories like that can work for customer-facing features because they’re particular, and it’s simple to understand why the product development team is building each feature. Mostly, it comes to tech improvements like bug fixes and privacy patches. Customer stories are not very useful.
Specifically, because for this reason, you might consider avoiding customer stories altogether for the product backlog. You can use them as a context for the backlog, but the backlog entirely should concentrate on the particular product features only, not the story.
Utilize a Product Management Tool
If you’re still managing your product backlog in traditional methods like in Jira or a spreadsheet, you’re making your product improvement process more daunting.
Jira is a tool which majorly used by developers which have a lot of infused features infused with it to make developers job effective. When you include product management into this tool, it quickly becomes overwhelmed and feels a little messy to organize things. A spreadsheet can work for other teams and use spreadsheets to manage stuff, making the product manager’s work more extended and complex. The issue with the spreadsheets is that they miss the critical piece to the product development context.
Without a proper context, it’s expected that you forget about why you categorize certain features for product improvement. Product management platforms solve this altogether by permitting you to attach context to each product feature improvement. You can include notes from the customer’s perspectives, and you even collaborate with them virtually just by getting feedback. Also, insights from company stakeholders can get clear and confident on your product prioritization scores.
With those pieces, you can understand why you prioritized each feature and for what? They will hand over the proper context to your engineering team, which will help them buy some crucial insights about why this specific feature is getting built and more details.
Manage your product backlog like how you manage your product
To make your product backlog more effective, you should handle it like how you manage your product. Providing it a constant sharp sight will help your backlog be a perfect organized tool that aligns your team.
Luckily, if you’re utilizing a product management tool, backlog management becomes extremely simple and effective. A useful product management tool will have a lot of prioritization methods included and a lot of features built-in like:
- Mobile App
And more, to make your job extremely simple while getting everything you need in some secs.
Likewise, you have lots of features in the Hellonext product management tool. Explore features here.
Hellonext is a product management tool that enables teams to showcase the correct value of the products to market rapidly. Hellonext serves as the dedicated tool of record for product managers and aligns everyone on the right features to build next. Get a Hellonext free trial today.
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