Backlog grooming vs. sprint planning

Backlog grooming vs. sprint planning

If you’re involved in project management, you may have heard the terms “backlog grooming” and “sprint planning” at some point. But perhaps you’re new to Scrum or work adjacent to a product team and don’t interact with these terms on a regular basis, so you’re looking to learn more or get a refresher on them.

Whether you’re offering input or making decisions in the project management process, having a deeper understanding of backlog grooming and sprint planning will be beneficial. This article will dive into the similarities and differences between backlog grooming and sprint planning and how they can contribute to the Scrum process.

Specifically, we’ll cover:

But before we look at how these two terms differ, let’s explore what each term means individually.

What is backlog grooming or refining?

Backlog grooming, or refining, is the process of reviewing the product backlog and cleaning it up by removing, adding, prioritizing, or expanding upon user stories. The goal of backlog grooming is to refine the list of all the tasks the product team might tackle and ensure they’re prioritized correctly and aligned with the strategic objectives of the company.

The product backlog is a list of all the tasks the product team will work on at some point. This includes everything from new features to bugs that need to be fixed. Some of these items may fall into the next sprint, while others may not be addressed for some time.

What is sprint planning?

Sprint planning, unlike backlog grooming, is more narrow and focuses on preparing for the next sprint. Sprints typically last two weeks, so sprint planning focuses on which user stories the team wants to accomplish in the near term.

Each sprint has a backlog of its own. Think of the product backlog as all the work your team would like to accomplish and the sprint backlog as a list of items to work on now.

The sprint backlog is filled with user stories from the product backlog, along with any user stories that were not completed during the previous spring. Sprint planning meetings are held before each sprint. Teams typically allot a maximum of two hours per week of the sprint to plan, though experienced or efficient teams will take less time.

Backlog grooming vs. sprint planning

You now have clear definitions of backlog grooming and sprint planning and probably understand some of their similarities and differences.

Sprint planning sessions address near-future items, only covering what will occur within the next sprint. Backlog grooming sessions focus on the project as a whole to help prioritize tasks.

To help you feel even more confident in your upcoming planning sessions, let’s explore their similarities and differences further.

The similarities

Backlog grooming and sprint planning are both part of the product development cycle within the Scrum framework. These two tasks are both processes set in place to organize a team’s work.

Both sprint planning and backlog grooming aim to involve all relevant parties and benefit from a skilled facilitator. Both of these sessions come with the goal of ensuring all team members are on the same page with upcoming tasks.

These two sessions are most likely to have successful results if someone is present who can serve as the “voice of the customer.”

Both backlog grooming and sprint planning are important to the Scrum process and help teams prioritize work and pave the way for future projects.

The differences

Sprint planning happens once before the start of the next sprint, whereas backlog grooming occurs continuously without a fixed cadence.

More narrow scopes of work are addressed by sprint planning sessions, which focus on short-term goals. Backlog grooming, on the other hand, examines all the work of interest to a team and includes both short- and long-term goals.

Sprint planning meetings involve all of the team members participating in the next sprint, whereas backlog grooming may involve a smaller subset of team members.

Get started with Scrum

Both backlog grooming and sprint planning are important to the Scrum process and help teams prioritize work and pave the way for future projects.

If you’re looking to increase your knowledge of Scrum and project management topics, you might be interested in these additional resources:

Project management has many moving parts. With the right tools in place, your team will be sprinting toward project success.

Adobe can help

Backlog grooming and sprint planning require collaboration and effort across multiple team members, and successful project managers are key to integrating company efforts. You can help your project managers accelerate their project organization by ensuring they have the tools to drive optimal outcomes.

Adobe Workfront is enterprise work management software that connects work to strategy and drives better collaboration by integrating people, data, processes, and technology across your organization. You can manage the entire lifecycle of projects from start to finish. By optimizing and centralizing digital projects, cross-functional teams can connect, collaborate, and execute from anywhere to help them do their best work.

Take a product tour or watch the overview video to learn more.