Home » Product Backlog vs Sprint Backlog: What are the Differences?

Product Backlog vs Sprint Backlog: What are the Differences?

by Uneeb Khan

Product Backlog is aProduct Backlog is a list of features that are required in a software product, which can be prioritized by their business values. On the other hand, a Sprint Backlog is a list of tasks needed to be complete during the upcoming sprint, which could include some or all of the items from the Product Backlog.

A typical Scrum team contains three roles: Team members (developers, testers, and technical writers), Scrum Master, and Product Owner. A cross-functional team is one where each role is filled by someone different. For example, developers might take on testing and documentation responsibilities when necessary. But possess enough skills to complete every task related to that role. A more important question to ask is who owns the sprint backlog.

Scrum projects need a certain set of artifacts such as Product Backlog and Sprint Backlog to be successful.

During a Sprint, the Scrum team completes all tasks in the Product Backlog. It consists of an ordered list of all tasks that need to be completed. It contains all features, functions, enhancements, and bug fixes. The Product Owner prioritizes items on the Product Backlog based on the business value then hands it over to the Team who estimates the effort required for each task and starts working.

At a glance a typical Scrum sprint looks like this:

Sprint planning meeting: First week of every month or as decided by the Scrum team. It is decided at a sprint planning meeting what will be delivered at the end of the next sprint. Sometime before the sprint planning meeting, the Product Owner revises the product backlog to take into account priority changes.

Sprint: After a sprint planning meeting, work begins on items that are prioritized for the next sprint. Features are implemented by developers, and developers accept items ready for production. The Product owner is responsible for defining acceptance criteria for each item. We can all know what needs to be done before it can be released. Scrum team has the autonomy to pull in other tasks necessary for their work as long as they do not interfere with the overall Sprint goal.

Every day during a sprint, the developer/scrum master/product owner participates in a daily standup, where issues faced by any one of them are discussed. Following the status of each task, a daily summary is presented.

As soon as a sprint starts, no new work can be added. Any changes must be approved during backlog grooming. The Product Owner presents the items on top of the backlog, and team members, including developers and testers, provide a rough estimate. The one with most ownership of that item will have complete responsibility for estimating it

The Sprint begins on a Monday and ends next Monday. Each day includes two 15 minute meetings. First, the Development Team discusses what took place yesterday and what is expected to happen today. In the second meeting, which follows directly after lunch, the Development Team again discusses what they accomplished since yesterday’s meeting as well.

Differences between Product Backlog vs Sprint Backlog are:

1. Product Backlogs and Sprint Backlogs are managed by different teams.

2. The Product Owner can create items in the Product Backlog at any time. But, only the Development Team creates items in the Sprint Backlog during the sprint itself.

3. The contents of backlogs are totally different from each other.

4.Epics, user stories, and sprint tasks constitute the product backlog. Sprint backlog items must be completed in a single iteration. I.e., which will deliver an increment of functionality to end-users.

5. Sprint planning for the T-shirts will begin at the beginning of the Sprint Backlog meeting. The Development Team will then estimate the development of these items.

6. Sprint Backlog is not visible to anyone except the Sprint team who is working on it during Planning and Daily Standup Meetings, but Product backlog is available for the whole organization. If they have proper access rights, people outside of sprint teams can also see the Product Backlog items.

7. A Product Backlog item’s priority cannot be changed due to insufficient resources. However, the priority of the sprint backlog can be adjusted as needed. Because it’s just a task list i.e, we can move single item priority up & down within that list at any point in time without affecting others in the same list.

8: Work carried out in a sprint can be visible to other sprint teams but work carried out in a backlog is not visible to others, it’s just for the owner team

9: Sprint has a task owner who decides what he/she will do within the sprint timebox. Scrum masters may have an idea about what should be done within a sprint. But the final decision maker is that particular team member who will complete it with his/her effort during this short period of time. On the other hand, a Product Backlog item has only a title without any details. Product owners (or PO) decide how much effort needs to be put on this backlog based on priority and risk assessment. No one else takes responsibility for completing this item. It’s a POs job or PO sub-team’s job.

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