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Product backlog

August 15, 2007 by Artem Marchenko

Update: See also section added

Product backlog in Scrum is simply a list of things needed to be done. As such it is a little different from many other to-do lists. The difference comes from the small peculiarities of the way you handle the backlog. Here some some things to note about the product backlog.

  • Product backlog always lists items adding value for the customer. It includes functional requirements and non-functional requirements. It can also include items required by the team, but only the ones that will eventually bring value to the customer, e.g. taking into use a continuous integration server in order to guarantee the continuous end product quality.
  • Product backlog cannot include concrete low level tasks and requests for building the intermediate artifacts. For example, it cannot include request for producing the design document unless customer has to ship it further for some purpose.
  • Product backlog utilizes the simplest and the most effective way for prioritizing requests - a simple list. Such a method does not allow for having 100 absolute max priority features and forces the product owner to actually make decisions about the feature priorities.
  • The higher the items are located on the product backlog, the more detailed they are. Items for the closest couple of months are usually quite detailed, while items that will be worked on in some 6-12 month can be defined very broadly and imprecisely.
  • When there are several interdependent teams in the company or department, typically they all have a single product backlog and pull their work from it.
  • Product backlog does not typically include the detailed requirement information. Usually the final requirement details are figured out with the help of the customer, when the requirement is being implemented.

Ease of use, clear and transparent purpose is what makes the product backlog so useful for seeing into the project status.

See Also

Do you agree with the properties above? Or are there any other important product backlog properties worth mentioning?

About the Author: As the Editor-in-Chief for, Artem is charged with overseeing the direction for content, advertising, and the overall management of the site. Nowadays in his day life, Artem is a product manager in a global telecommunication company where he leads the development of a product developed in extremely distributed environment. Artem has been applying Agile and researching Agile since 2005. Contact Artem


Can be equivalent

October 10, 2008 by Artem, 6 years 51 weeks ago
Comment id: 1907

Oh well. Technically every product backlog can be automatically converted into an MS Project style Gantt chart though quite rudimentary with the next item depending on the previous one.

Sometimes I even find such representation useful. Most of the time though the converted chart looks too tempting to assume that we know much more information on the dependency structure, than we really have.


November 9, 2008 by Artem, 6 years 47 weeks ago
Comment id: 1983

I guess you mean this tutorial and the moment 1:45. In this particular video I just cut out the boring editing part. In general though you can rearrange your rows by shift-dragging the row selection as described, for example here

Best of