A product backlog is an arranged database of accumulated tasks that are required to be carried out. A backlog is prepared as a list of job priorities in their order of importance. A product backlog is mainly used to prepare for a Sprint. It is the initial plan and guides as a base for an expansion into a Sprint Backlog.

For example, a product owner and his development team may develop a product backlog by listing out all the requirements necessary to complete a project. However, a prominent feature of an agile product backlog is that it is in a sequential order of priority with the most urgent needs coming out on top.

A product backlog may contain some details or information needed to complete a task, but these details must never be confused with the breakdown of such a task. Therefore, two essential ingredients for a product backlog to be a good one is that it must be a roadmap and contain summarized but cogent requirements.

A backlog may be created using the Scrum framework or methodology. This will involve making entries into the backlog in the form of user stories, new features/bugs or design changes. The Scrum team while preparing for a Sprint, will pick the top priorities in a product backlog and breakdown these tasks into several parts which are then assigned to each member of the team.

A user story will comprise of the wants of the clients as regards the product. This means that an entry in the backlog may resemble a change or new feature required by a user of the product. An example is “As an authorized user, I want access to my earnings restricted to my personal view”.

Tasks added to the backlog may be technical or based on knowledge acquisition. An example of a technical entry has been given above. A knowledge acquisition entry may be in form of “Research on Python programming language precisely back-end development”. It requires the team to have a full grasp of the subject defined.

A product backlog is always reviewed and entries may be added or removed to reflect the changes in needs or priorities. This is done to keep up with the development of the project. This process is referred to as “backlog grooming“. Thus, a product backlog is a “living” list.

Main characteristics

  • Organization
  • Prioritization
  • It must be a roadmap
  • Requirements
  • It must reflect updates.

Factors affecting prioritization on a backlog

  • Timeframe given by customers for feedback
  • Customer emphasis
  • Correlative or conditional relationship between urgently required tasks and other tasks
  • Time needed for completion
  • Technical availability of resources.

A product backlog is mostly prepared on an Excel sheet.