Consequences: A sized and ordered backlog allows estimates to be made regarding the likely time of item completion, assuming that the velocity of delivery is known. A less reactive management style is cultivated and “firefighting” is reduced. Backlogs require good management and clear ownership. Establishing this discipline can be a problem for many organizations.

Applicability: Backlogs and the associated principles of queue management are applicable to all agile methods.

Structure: A backlog will consist of multiple backlog items, all of which will be placed in order. Each item will be sufficiently clear and unambiguous to be given a size. Items can be added or removed from the backlog, or re-ordered within it, a process known as backlog grooming. Grooming also allows backlog items to be modified if necessary.

Intent: Enumerate all work to be done in the form of an ordered list


  • When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority

  • First come, first served

Also Known As:

  • Prioritized Requirements List

Motivation: Requirements can originate from multiple sources and stakeholders. As such, priorities are often unclear and the scope of changes may overlap, making estimation difficult. A single repository of ordered requirements is needed.

Implementation: Scrum teams have two backlogs: a Product Backlog, which contains all product requirements as they are understood at the current time, and a Sprint Backlog which contains the work items needed to complete a selected portion of those requirements. DSDM has a Prioritized Requirements List which is analogous to a Product Backlog. Kanban teams generally only operate using one backlog, although the constituent items may require different qualities of service.

See Also: