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Product Backlog Grooming and advantages to the Product Owner ..

There have been some posts in the past that talked about Product Backlog Grooming, and this post is a continuation of the articles on this subject. This post will cover some of the advantages that the Product Owner gets when the team is actively involved in a periodic Product Backlog Grooming with the Product Owner with the intention of refining the User stories planned for the next Sprint. Here goes:

– One of the biggest problems that the Product Owner runs into during the Sprint Planning is when there are some tough queries from the team as the Product Owner is explaining the User stories. There have been occasions when the team has pointed out very valid issues during this discussion that the Product Owner had not visualized, which leads to an uncomfortable situation; in some cases, it was impossible to modify the User story at that point of time, which meant that the tasks had to be pushed out and in most cases, then not taken up in the current Sprint. Such an event happening also reduces the confidence that the team has with the Product Owner. To avoid such cases, doing Product Backlog meetings in a previous Sprint provides some great advantages to the specific role of the Product Owner.
– The team is able to provide some rough estimates of the tasks, sometimes leading to situations where the Product Owner is able to do an approximation of the effort required for a feature vs. the benefits, and take a more appropriate decision. We had a case where the feature looked doable in a specific time frame, but it turned out that the research done by the team revealed that the technology required to do the feature as per the proposed workflows needed a technical solution that was not yet available cheaply (the licensing cost was high) and this helped the Product Owner take a more nuanced decision.
– When the Product Owner is defining the User Stories, he / she does not have too much in terms of reviews from others or contributions. However, when some of the responsibility for refining the more complex User Stories is shared by the team through the process of Product Backlog Grooming, a skilled Product Owner can ensure that the overall experience of the team and their comfort with the current feature can result in some great refinements to the User Stories.
– Showing the User Story to the team ensures that the team will have advance knowledge of User stories before the advent of the Sprint and gives them more time to point out gotchas as well as refinements before the next sprint starts. Some of this feedback comes back to the Product Owner and can provide some more inputs.
– With the presence of the Product Backlog grooming, the Product Owner is forced to put more effort into ensuring that the User stories are selected for the next Sprint well before the start of the next Sprint. This helps the Product Owner to develop techniques for taking into account the various factors deciding the prioritzation of the features and communicate the same to other people on a regular basis.

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