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RE: [scrumdevelopment] Maintaining Product Backlog estimates

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  • Ken Schwaber
    Thanks, Mike. Right on. Ken ... From: Mike Cohn [mailto:mike@mountaingoatsoftware.com] Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2002 10:07 AM To:
    Message 1 of 13 , Sep 15, 2002
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      Thanks, Mike. Right on.
      Ken
      -----Original Message-----
      From: Mike Cohn [mailto:mike@...]
      Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2002 10:07 AM
      To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: [scrumdevelopment] Maintaining Product Backlog estimates

      First, on many of the projects I’ve done the Product Owner ends up not being a customer because on commercial products it just isn’t feasible. On projects delivering software for internal it’s much more viable and I have done that—on the other hand, even then, it usually ends up being the Scrum Master who updates backlogs.  As a ScrumMaster I will typically make sure backlog estimates are up to date and then I make sure the team (including the Product Owner) has the new information.

       

      I may has glossed over the exact wording in the book but it probably says that the Sprint Backlog (not the Product Backlog) is updated weekly. Sprint Backlog is the items selected for completion in the current sprint; Product Backlog is everything left out. I update the Sprint Backlog at least once a week; I update the Product Backlog only in the week before we start planning the next sprint.

       

      Updating the Sprint Backlog is more of a continuous activity. I don’t really sit down and say “now I’m going to update all of the sprint backlog.” Rather, as I get new information from team members I update the backlog. I get the information from talking to each of the developers outside the daily Scrum meeting. I may talk to some but not all developers on a given day so I’ll update backlog items based on what they’ve said. Typically I’ll ask how much is left on a task (I *never* ask how much has been expended on a task because it’s irrelevant) but I may also hear that a task no one has started yet is going to be harder/easier than planned or that we forgot to add tasks onto the list.  You also pick up stuff during the daily Scrum that can help you update the Sprint Backlog. You’ll certainly hear a programmer say things like “I finished the search screen yesterday so today I’m going to start on the search-results screen and with any luck I’ll finish that today.”  The daily scrum is all about commitments from one individual to the team so you hear what they finished (estimates on those go to 0 obviously!) and you hear what they’re doing today (which gives you some guidance about how long is left, sometimes enough to put in a guess for the remaining duration).

       

      Yes, a Sprint backlog of N tasks becomes at least N tasks. (It may be N.)

       

      More and more lately I’ve been using XP-style stories as my Product Backlog items and then when those Stories move into Sprints they are decomposed into tasks. The Product Backlog has things other than just Stories because Scrum isn’t as maniacally focused on the same goals as XP but the majority of my Product Backlog items are becoming User Stories. Other items like, “Document the design of the data storage classes” or “Speed up the customer query” are on there.

       

      --Mike

       

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Tommy Kelly [mailto:tommyk@...]
      Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2002 6:59 AM
      To: scrumdevelopment@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [scrumdevelopment] Maintaining Product Backlog estimates

       

      The black book recommends that the Product Owner updates
      the Product Backlog estimates on a weekly basis.
      How is this done considering that:

            a. The PO may be a customer,
               who isn't on site on a weekly basis
      and
            b. Even if the PO *is* on site, the only
               information available will be that
               obtained by *listening* (I'm assuming that
               the PO is a chicken) at Daily Scrums.
               (And the three questions don't include
                "how long do you estimate is remaining
                 for Sprint Backlog item X").

      While I'm here, I'm assuming that the Sprint
      Backlog of N items may be decomposed into
      >N tasks.  Yes?

      If so, do team members claim ownership of Sprint
      Backlog items, or of the constituent tasks?

      thanks,
      Tommy



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