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Will the 'Backlog Review' be the next Scrum event?

Have a look at the scrum guide and you will see that the team is expected to spent around 10% of their time reviewing the backlog. With all the will in the work, this is not easy to achieve. Even a highly disciplined team will find this difficult, especially when trying to spread the time across the iteration. Sure it is a little easier near the tail end of the iteration, but what this means is that there is a lot of work on the backlog very close to the start of the new iteration. It means that there will be a lot of pressure on people like DBA's & Architects and that that the Product Owner will be in high demand. As a result you will end up with an unprepared team and upcoming backlog items that are not as developed as they could or should be. You are not doing little bits of everything across the iteration as you should be.

OK, so that's the problem, what is the solution, What I have found is that a short sharp scheduled session of around 1 - 2 hours midway through each week of the iteration helps get the team working on the upcoming backlog items early in the iteration. This spreads the demand on the Product Owner and the team members can use that creative thread in the brain while actively working on the current iterations work. This amount of time each week does not make up the full 10%, but what it does is start people thinking about things and they make a start on any pre-work that needs doing. This is especially useful when you are using TDD or have a complicated or new architecture.

The key is not to try and do all the work during the session, but get the ideas going and the brains ticking over. The team will then naturally pick things up outside the meeting. It also makes sure that any complicated DBA or Architectural work has had the required thought put into it. The team will then find that it is a lot easier to estimate or re-estimate the work, for the iteration, and your planning sessions become a lot easier and smoother as the work is genuinely 'Ready to Play'.

The more the team has thought about the backlog:

  • happier they will be with committing to the work,
  • the easier it will be to task it up,
  • the better their estimations will be,
  • the better the quality and the higher their velocity.

There is no downside. Try it for a few iterations, I guarantee it will work for you!