We all hate meetings. For me, we meet to get something out of it. Refining the backlog is an essential step in the scrum team predictability. I propose 12 workshops as an alternative to the PBR meeting.
#1. Together alone workshop. The full team meets to refine the backlog, but each one of the team members works separately on a specific topic. You can create groups of 2 people, but I strongly recommend each team member to work alone. The Product Owner will turn to all the team members to provide further clarification or to answer questions. Each team member will need to write the description and the acceptance criteria of the user stories. At the end of the workshop, the team comes back together. Each team member presents to his/her colleagues the user stories written, and together they make further adjustments, clarifications and estimate the user story.
#2. Spikes are a timebox used to research a particular topic. Estimated user stories are the output of the spike. It is best to do teams of 2 to the research on an item in detail. Spikes are about getting your hands into the code, not just analysis. Learn more about How Spikes help to Improve your Agile Product Delivery.
#3. Prototypes. The team selects a feature, and together they prototype the future solution. You can code it directly or use a dedicated prototype tool. At the end of the workshop, the Product Owner can invite five users to test the prototype. Based on the output, the PO can define after the user stories.
#4. Persona definition means going deep into knowing the user of your product. It involves identifying a real ideal user and understanding this person: what the person thinks, feels, does, needs. Learn more about the personas on How and why the personas must be the starting point of our user stories to build better products.
#5. Vision definition workshop. Together with the management, key stakeholders, representative users, and a part of the scrum team, as a Product Owner, you can work in defining the vision of the product. The vision definition workshop is beneficial when starting the development of a new product or when trying to expand to new markets.
#6. Impact mapping workshop. It helps to define “the Why”, “the Who”, “the How”, and “the What” of the product. It provides just enough structure for further planning — each What will be a functionality (feature). I recommend you use it each several months or before each Program Increment if you use SAFe.
#7. Define product releases. It is the next step after the Impact Mapping Workshop. You’ll prioritize your What cards (the features) in at least three levels based on urgency. Each level will be one release.
#8. Define MVP. Together with the stakeholders and investors and part of the scrum team, identify the minimum functionalities needed to launch the product on the market with the maximum impact.
#9. Features estimation. The easiest way of doing the estimates of the features is by affinity sizing. The features must have the description, benefits hypothesis, and acceptance criteria. The team takes one by one of the features and puts features on the left side of the existing feature if it is less complicated and on the right if it is more complex.
#10. The design studio is a UX workshop. You define the problem with the team, and everyone proposes five individual solutions drawn in 5 minutes each. The tribe selects exciting ideas from all the designs, and in the end, the team shortlists two solutions.
#11. Market research. It sounds the Product Owner job, but today we speak about multidisciplinary teams and not only development teams.
#12. Live configurations. Sometimes it is just better to get into the code and configure the product while defining the requirements. Try several options, see what you get out of it, and then decide on what to implement. I recommend to the Product Owners to do live configurations in their product backlog refinement as much as possible.
#13. Use collaborative tools and review the content before the PBR meeting, so during the session you only address the questions
If you have any recommendations for alternative workshops to the Product Backlog Requirements, let us know in the comments!
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