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Michael became a Certified Scrum Master (CSM) in 2004 and is huge advocate of better (XP) engineering practices since discovering unit testing in 2001. Michael has a B.A.Sc. from University of Toronto in Engineering Science and a M.Sc. from U.B.C. in Computer Science. He has presented at Agile Tour Toronto and the XPToronto/Agile User group on Scrum and XP. His is also an active member of the Agile community and co-organizer of Agile Tour Toronto. Michael lives and works in Toronto, Canada, as an independent Agile and Lean coach, consultant and trainer. Michael is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 90 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Aligning and Balancing your Backlog

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This is a review of Luke Hohmann’s excellent blog series on Product Backlog Prioritization. As usual, I have captured what I believe to be the salient points in a visual note.  The main points are to:

  1. Align with Company Strategy
  2. Balance stakeholder demands
  3. Drive Profit

    Starting at the top left and going clockwise…

    Company Strategy.  Do you know what it is?  Do you know the top 3 priorities. Do you know the product strategy? As product owners, we want to eliminate the work that does not align with these. We also want to focus on those that are most strongly aligned with strategy.

    Software By Numbers is a great concept but is difficult to use in practice. Firstly, no one has then numbers and secondly business value models need to account for intangibles.

    Driving PROFIT is one aspect of a healthy model. Several different approaches (customer pipeline, market research, etc) can be used to identify key business drivers. Hohmann argues that these are at the theme or epic level rather than an MMF (minimum marketable feature).

    Finally, it is critical that product releases satisfy internal and external stakeholders. For me, this is perhaps the deepest insight in this blog. Product owners need to listen to and support a wide constituency for a product to reach its potential value to an organization. In my work as a coach, I sadly notice internal stakeholders such as architecture, support and services are frequently ignored. If you haven’t already used them, Innovation Games® are a great way to understand and make choices.

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Published at DZone with permission of Michael Sahota, author and DZone MVB. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)


Sindy Loreal replied on Sat, 2012/02/25 - 9:00am

OpenView is a venture capital fund that invests in expansion stage software companies and provides operational assistance to our investments (using Scrum ourselves!).

80% of our product development teams utilize Scrum, and all of them have challenges in preparing and prioritizing their backlogs. Luke’s approach has certainly been helpful, and I recommend it to others.

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