Backlog Refinement

Understand, prioritise, and clarify items in the backlog to ensure they're ready to work on.
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 it's advised that 1 hour of refinement a week is enough.

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 week with the required parties. However information gained in this meeting must be adequately radiated to those who need
  • 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 💻 🙏

Look at Backlog Refinement

Links we love

Check out these great links which can help you dive a little deeper into running the Backlog Refinement practice with your team, customers or stakeholders.

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