Backlog Refinement

Determine addition information and prioritization for existing backlog items
Contributed by

Tom Heisey

Matt Takane

Edited by
Published August 10, 2018

What Is Backlog Refinement?

  • Having a conversation to provide clarity surrounding the detail or conditions of satisfaction for work items in the backlog
  • Identifying priority for work items in the backlog
  • Sometimes called "Backlog Grooming"

Why Do Backlog Refinement?

  • Drive team shared understanding of work items in regards to:

    • Scope of work in the backlog
    • Conditions of satisfaction
    • Prioritization of what to do first

How to do Backlog Refinement?

How often should it occur and for how long?

  • The simple answer is as often as is necessary
  • Typically its advised that 1 hour of refinement should suffice for each week of the sprint

Tips for Remote Working

  • This is perhaps the one of the most difficult to do remotely to keep the team engaged, especially if there hasn’t been a proper preparation by the Product Owner and Engagement Lead.
  • Ensure the Product Owner is prepared and has the necessary details and research done prior to the group getting together.
  • You can rotate role for leading the sessions to increase the team engagement with less passive behaviours and reduce tiredness on a single person acting as lead.
  • Organise multiple small sessions instead of a single long one for remote refinement, otherwise the session becomes tedious and people lose focus.
  • Use the virtual tools available to make as interactive as possible.
  • Use online tools to share the product backlog.
  • Share definition of done and ready with the team and keep them on display during the meeting.


  • Although typically occurring as a team meeting, backlog refinement can occur throughout the sprint with the required parties. However information gained in this meeting must be adequately radiated to those who need it.
  • Product owners are also not necessarily required for a backlog refinement. The key is to have those who have sufficient knowledge to talk through a backlog item and answer questions. This may come in the form of a Product owner, Stakeholder, Developer etc

Want to get better with Backlog Refinement remotely? Here's a game to help you and your team practice it 💻 🙏

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