Team Backlog - Agile Framework at Scale (2023)

While building trust gives teams the ability to reconfigure and "do the right thing", you also need to ensure that team members know the right thing to do. All team members must work toward the same goal, and in volatile and complex environments, that goal is always changing.

—General Stanley McChrystal,equipment team

The Team Backlog is a Kanban system used to capture and manage user and enabler stories for the purpose of improving the solution.

This includes stories that originate from the Features on ART backlog, as well as those that emerge from the team's local context.

The team backlog contains all the possible work a team could do to improve the solution. For example, contains the userStories,facilitators,and other work items such as improvement stories for team corrective actionsretrospectivesor theLetters inspect and adapt.

While not conceptually complex, a few key aspects make the team backlog critical to agile development. For example:

  • Contains all work for aagile teamto move the solution forward and align all team members with a common goal.
  • It's a wish list, not commitments. Items can be estimated (preferably) or not, but it is just an ordered list and there is no specific time commitment to complete them. In other words, the backlog is time-agnostic, giving the team overall flexibility in what gets deployed and when.
  • All team members can enter stories into the backlog.
  • It has a single owner, the Product Owner (PO), who helps the team manage the challenge of multiple stakeholders who may have differing views on what is essential.

The PO, with input from the team and other stakeholders, is primarily responsible for creating and maintaining the team's backlog. However, any team member can enter a backlog item for consideration. The PO prioritizes the backlog, balancing stakeholder needs. There are three main entries to the team backlog, as illustrated in Figure 1.

Team Backlog - Agile Framework at Scale (1)
  • late ART- Helate ARTconsists of future resources planned to be delivered on a train. DuringIP planning, the teams divide the candidates' characteristics into stories and tentatively place them in the nextiterations. These new stories are kept in the team's backlog.
  • Team local context– Local team concerns (other new features, defects, refactorings, technology and maintenance debts) are also in the backlog. As the PI planning is at a high level, adjustments are likely to occur during the PI. Teams using Scrum will likely make adjustments duringiteration planning, while Kanban teams are likely to do the same when restocking backorders.
  • Other Stakeholders– Agile teams on ART are not islands, and their backlogs will contain some stories that support dependencies from other teams and other commits, including ART's.IP targets. These stories can include spikes for the research needed to estimateCharacteristics,Capacities, it's includedepics.

Additionally, teams get feedback from previous increments, whichsystem demoand other groups that can affect accumulation.

Non-Functional Requirements (NFRs)they are enduring qualities that can affect the design, performance, or quality of the solution. Since they serve as constraints (or constraints) for all equipment items, the Big Picture illustrates them at the bottom of the backlog in Figure 1. Due to their importance, teams often automate acceptance testing of NFRs and include them in their de facto definition. (DoD).

Creation and improvement of the order book

Agile teams take a flow-based approach to keeping the backlog ready, so that it always contains a few stories ready to run without risk or significant surprises. Like an overgrown garden that becomes wild when left unattended for too long, the team backlog becomes unmanageable if left untended and tended to. Refining the team backlog includes the following activities:

  • Refining stories and establishing acceptance criteria
  • The PO regularly prioritizes the team backlog in collaboration with the team and stakeholders
  • New stories, including enablers, are discovered and described, and existing ones are changed or removed.
  • High priority items are prepared by defining acceptance criteria and scaling them to meet tight deadlines.
  • Stories that have been around for a long time, or are perhaps no longer relevant, are removed.

While the PO manages the team's backlog, refinement is a collaborative process. Create a dialogue between the team,Customers,and other interested parties. This refinement breaks down the barriers between the business and the development team, eliminating waste, handoffs and delays. Developing story acceptance criteria increases clarity of requirements, leverages the collective knowledge and creativity of the team, and builds buy-in and joint ownership.

There is no prescriptive meeting pattern to refine the backlog. Some teams like to do a little backlog refinement after Team Sync. Others prefer weekly refinement sessions or requirements specification workshops, applyingBehavior Driven Development(BDD) techniques to help clarify stories. Because multiple teams often collaborate on feature development, new issues, dependencies, and stories are likely to emerge. Refining the backlog also helps clarify issues with the current plan, which may require team discussion, PO, or trainer syncs.

Backlog Management with Kanban

In SAFe, agile teams manage their backlog using a Kanban system. The Kanban backlog system facilitates dependency alignment, visibility and management. Figure 2 illustrates an example of a team's initial Kanban system.

Team Backlog - Agile Framework at Scale (2)

This kanban displays all active and pending jobs, workflow status, and work-in-process (WIP) limits. The system is WIP limited; a work item can proceed to the next step only when the number of items is less than the WIP limit. Some activities in Kanban (generally start and finish) may not be limited by WIP. The team defines and adjusts WIP limits, allowing you to quickly adapt to the flux of complex systems development variations.

see theKanban application in SAFeyEquipo SAFe Kanbanarticles to learn more about establishing your team's Kanban system.

Balance value delivery and system health with capacity allocation

Like the ART, eachagile teamYou're faced with the problem of balancing internal work (maintenance, refactoring, and technical debt) with new user stories that provide more immediate business value. While focusing solely on business functionality may work for a while, this approach will be short-lived as technical debt mounts, slowing down development. Avoiding this risk requires continued investment in evolving the solution.architectural walkwaywhile making customers happy with improvements, new features and bug fixes. Achieving this balance extends system life by postponing technical obsolescence.

But prioritizing different types of work can be challenging as the PO tries to compare the value of different things: defects, refactorings, redesigns, technology updates, and new user stories. And there is no upper limit to the demand for any of these things.

In collaboration with the team, the PO appliescapacity allocation(Figure 3) for each type of element. Then the PO, the team andsystem architectselect the highest priority to-do items for each capacity allocation segment during planning. Because many stories originate from features, IP planning engagements can predetermine some priorities. However, the PO can prioritize the team's local context work by comparing value, size and logical sequence. Additionally, the PO can adjust the allocation percentage for each type of work item to address the long-term state of the system and value delivery. Teams should adapt capacity allocation categories as needed. However, these categories must be consistent across ART teams.

Team Backlog - Agile Framework at Scale (3)

To know more

[1] Knaster, Richard and Dean Leffingwell.SAFe 5.0 distilled, achieving business agility with the Scaled Agile Framework. Addison-Wesley, 2020.

[2] LEFFINGWELL, Decano.Agile Software Requirements: Lean Requirements Practices for Teams, Programs, and Enterprises. Addison-Wesley, 2011.

Last updated: March 14, 2023

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