What Is Product Backlog Grooming (Refinement) and How Long Should It Take?

This is the second blog post in the “How Much Time Should Each Scrum Practice and Meeting Take” series. This posting focuses on product backlog grooming.

Product backlog grooming (sometimes called product backlog refinement) refers to a set of three main activities: creating and refining product backlog items (PBIs), estimating PBIs, and prioritizing PBIs.

How much time teams should budget for product backlog grooming - refinement

How much time teams should budget for product backlog grooming (refinement)

As a general rule, the development team should allocate between 5 percent to 10 percent of its time each sprint to assisting the product owner with grooming activities. The team will use this time to help create or review emergent product backlog items as well as progressively refine larger items into smaller items. The team will also estimate the size of product backlog items and help the product owner prioritize those items based on technical dependencies and resource constraints.

Please note that the 5-to-10 percent time guideline applies to the development team members, and not the product owner.

A product owner may spend much more than 10 percent of her time engaged in product backlog grooming activities. For example, she may have numerous meetings with stakeholders to better understand their needs to ensure the proper product is developed.

If you want to read more about product backlog grooming, please have a look at Chapter 2 and Chapter 6 of the Essential Scrum book.

The previous post in this series is: “How Much Time Should Each Scrum Practice Take?

The next post in this series is: “How Long Should Teams Spend in Sprint Planning?