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Top Backlog Refinement Techniques


A product backlog contains in it all the items that are deemed important for the coming iteration to complete. A product backlog is something that contains in it, user, and enabler stories. It includes some of the system improvement stories that all the developers or tester has found during their sprint execution period. Thus product refinement is known to be a technique that is used to rectify the backlog items for an agile team to be delivered. It is because of this technique that the backlog stays fresh, updated, and ready for the team to work on it immediately. The backlog refinement techniques also enable the product owner to get ready with the high priority stories that are required to deliver in the next sprints.

Tasks during the Backlog Refinement:

In any team, the product owner comes with a list of backlog items that need to be prioritized. So below mentioned are the tasks during the backlog refinement.

  • To de-scope user stories that are no longer considered to be relevant.
  • To create new stories if required as part of the discovery.
  • Similarly, to re-prioritize the stories for the next iteration.
  • Furthermore, to estimate all such stories that have not been estimated.
  • Other tasks involve correcting estimates in the light of newly discovered information.

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Tools used in the Backlog Refinement:

The following are some of the tools that are used in the backlog refinement.


Trello is the issue and project tracking tool where all the user stories are maintained by the product owner.


This is another tool that is used for estimating user stories.

Top Backlog Refinement Techniques:

The following are some of the best backlog refinement techniques that can be used.

1. Always use the definition of ready:

The Definition of Ready or DOR is a less popular quality standard but it is used to represent all the things that a backlog item has to meet in order to be “ready” to take into the sprint. You can consider the DOR as a checklist for the whole team to guide their backlog refinement process. Plus it also serves as an entry criterion for the sprint.

2. Make sure to get the right people in the discussion:

One thing to be kept in mind is, right people always make up for the entire development team. The right people will always include a Subject Matter Expert (SME) on the business process, customer need, or the system. Thus the idea here is to include someone who can speak about why the item is being requested and how the solution fits into the business process.

3. Pre-work would be helpful before the backlog refinement meeting:

If you wish the meeting to be as effective as it can be, then make sure that some level of work is done in advance. If the product owner makes the whole team understand what the request is all about then a lot of time can be saved and more output can be seen. The product owner has to capture some basic information about the request so that the real discussion in PBR goes quicker.

4. Let the team estimate the size of the item:

It is the job of the team to estimate the size of the item considering it as the backlog process. If the estimation is done properly then it can serve as a good test for whether or not the team is aligned. If explained more clearly, then we mean to say that each person on the team should be given the chance to provide input to the estimation. Relative estimation via planning poker is recommended where the team discusses the item based on their knowledge about the other backlog items. If all of the team members agree on the size, then they are most likely to be aligned.

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Concluding Remarks:

So you see, these were some of the Backlog Refinement techniques or tips that you can apply in the product backlog and make enable the whole agile team to perform well at their end. So, read this topic now and know all about product backlog refinement, its tools, and techniques. And don’t forget to stay home, stay safe, and never stop learning.