Engineering Backlog

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The engineering backlog lists the tasks prioritized for the development team to execute in the next sprints. Some organizations use this term to present a backlog, where the product owner breaks user stories or epics into specific engineering tasks. Similarly, some organizations use an engineering backlog as a specific document that contains a list of defects and bugs in the product yet to be fixed. In short, various agile organizations will have different definitions of engineering backlog.

When an agile backlog is well-prioritized, it ensures smoother planning of iteration and release and empowers the team to set up a detailed outline of what it is doing to do next. Moreover, it also helps to set up expectations with other teams or stakeholders. You probably have heard about it in agile, but what is engineering backlog? Let’s find out in this article.

What Is Engineering Backlog?

A backlog presents a list of pending essential tasks that should be completed to reach the targeted goal. Similarly, a product backlog is a prioritized list of tasks from the roadmap and should be executed orderly. The engineering backlog can be considered as a specific version of the product backlog.

It lists the tasks prioritized for the development team to execute in the next sprints. The product owner is the one that maintains an engineering backlog. But not every agile organization has the same meaning for engineering backlog.

Some organizations use it to monitor and prioritize ideas and suggestions around their products. Similarly, many other organizations use this term to present a backlog, where the product owner breaks user stories or epics into specific tasks. Moreover, many other organizations use it as a specific document containing a list of defects and bugs in the product yet to be fixed.

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Items in Engineering Backlog

As narrated above, engineering backlog has different definitions and applications in different agile organizations, so the items in it will also vary. However, the everyday items in it include:

  1. Defects and bugs in the product.
  2. Prioritized to-do list for the engineering team in the next sprint.
  3. New user stories or amendments to existing ones.
  4. Suggestions for product enhancements by team members (engineers).
  5. Specific engineering tasks from user stories or epics.

Activities Involved and Maintaining

The product owner is the one who maintains the engineering backlog. The set of activities involved in maintaining the backlog include:

  • Ensure that backlog tasks/items are easy-to-understand, actionable, and provide a feasible development cycle timeframe.
  • Ensure that backlog tasks/items are arranged in a priority order throughout the development cycle.
  • Continuous review of backlog tasks/items with the product roadmap.
  • Inspect and remove all those tasks/items from the backlog that are no longer required for any reason.
  • Ensure that the organization’s goals around the product are in line with the team’s current task plans.
  • Conduct frequent grooming sessions with the team around the engineering backlog to ensure that the lined-up tasks for the next sprints are clear to the team and well-prepared to be debated in the upcoming sprint planning session.
  • Refine, change, or update the backlog based on the suggestions from the team during the grooming session, such as adding more descriptions about the tasks/items, changing the priority of some tasks/items, increasing the completion timeframe, etc.

In all the above activities around the engineering backlog, the product owner will play a critical role, while the development team will act as a contributor.

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