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Advantage of Product Backlog Grooming – gets the team to start thinking

The Product Backlog Grooming is not a process that every team goes through, and I believe that even with teams that do it, the level of detail that they follow differs from team to team. But what exactly is a Product Backlog Grooming ? Well, the Backlog Grooming is a process whereby, before the actual Sprint in which a few specific User Stories need to be taken up, the more complicated / complex of these User stories are taken up for discussions before the actual Sprint. In this way, the team and the Product Owner get into a more detailed, mutually acceptable discussion of the scope of these User Stories, and additional complexities such as technical complexity and estimates can be obtained during these discussions. However, in many times there are challenges with having such meetings, and this could be because many of the team members feel that any refinement of the User Story falls into the responsibility of the Product Owner, and so on. There is a need for defining some of the advantages that can accrue to the team because of doing this Backlog Grooming. One of the primary advantages is that it causes the team to start thinking about the User Stories.
Consider the overall scenario; the team implements Scrum and has a number of User Stories that it wants to take up for the next Sprint. Some of these could be more complex and not easy to understand (or rather takes time to understand); and if the team hears about such User Stories during the Sprint planning session, preparing tasks and estimates for these User Stories can be difficult and the estimates for these can turn out to be inaccurate. However, such processes need to happen and there are improvements that happen out of such processes.
One of the more crucial benefits of the backlog grooming meeting is that it encourages people to start thinking about the User Stories that will be present in the next or more Sprints, and start to evaluate these Scripts. Suppose that the Product Owner started explaining a more complex User Story, and was immediately presented with a barrage of questions, some of which provide inputs to the Product Owner itself. But with such queries coming up and some sort of answer, it also meant that a number of team members have been thinking about these User Stories and also some amount of detail for them. For example, you could have a complicated User Story which would be a problem during the Sprint Planning, but ensuring that it gets discussed during a Backlog Grooming meeting ensures that atleast some of the team members would have thought more of the problem and this in turn could ensure that the final tasks may see some modification based on their feedback, and there might be improvements in the workflow or the benefits to the end customers based on this discussion.

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