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How to Take the Bloat out of Your Backlogs

Is it possible to be too good at identifying backlog items? Maybe. After all, if you identify multiple dozens of user stories all at once, you are probably halfway to having planned a waterfall project. In an article for AgileConnection, Michelina DiNunno discusses how to take the bloat out of your backlog.

Weight Loss

DiNunno believes that bloat occurs when you take on too many stories of low priority or stories that are just unnecessary alternatives to other stories. Particularly, if you fall into habits of thinking, “I can’t say no,” or “Well… just in case,” you could be leaving yourself open to bloat. For instance, if you try to please every single stakeholder to a frivolous extent, user stories will pile up. Likewise, a desire to keep a clean audit of priorities can easily turn excessive through too much tracking of things that do not really matter.

In order to genuinely refine the backlog, you need to ground discussion squarely around the product. To that end, DiNunno defines seven “dimensions” of a product to consider: users, interface, data, control, quality, action the product provides, and ability to conform to physical and technological environments. You might generate three major priorities from looking at these dimensions, and these priorities would then dictate how you approach user stories moving forward.

DiNunno goes on to share some tips about the best ways to use product dimensions:

  • Have all product dimensions been explored and evaluated to determine relevancy? If, for example, you focus solely on the two dimensions explicit in a user story (user and action dimensions), important conversations about data and business rules will be missed. More than two dimensions are needed for a shared understanding.
  • Are you focused on one dimension for so long that a given story or feature takes up too much time and effort in your refining sessions? In your next session, use a timebox to explore each dimension. It might feel uncomfortable at first, but with practice, it will get easier. Some product dimensions will only need a few moments to discuss. But don’t skip a dimension or focus on your favorite dimension because it’s easier than the others.

Now you know how to start shedding the pounds. For even more tips on how to streamline your backlog, you can view the original article here: https://www.agileconnection.com/article/streamline-your-agile-requirements-avoiding-bloated-backlogs

About John Friscia

John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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