Product School

What is a Backlog in Product Management?

A Backlog is a prioritized list of features, enhancements, and bug fixes that a Product Manager maintains. The Backlog represents everything a team needs to do to ship a product, and it's essential for staying organized and focused on delivering value to customers.

Maintaining a Backlog in Product Management

Backlog Management is important because it enables teams to prioritize uncompleted work. Without following this approach, teams would work on random projects, not be aligned, and likely not achieve your team’s priorities. Organizing items on the Backlog and prioritizing them based on customer value, business value, and other criteria can help you reduce wasted resources and increase the chances of delivering a successful product.

How to Manage a Backlog

Step 1: Define Your Prioritization Criteria

Before you can prioritize items on the Backlog, you need to establish the criteria you'll use to determine which items are most important. This could include customer value, business value, technical feasibility, or other factors that are important to your OKRs.

Step 2: Capture Everything in the Backlog

Make sure to capture all items that need to be completed for the product in the Backlog, including new features, enhancements, bug fixes, and technical debt.

Step 3: Prioritize the Backlog

Once you've defined your prioritization criteria and captured everything in the Backlog, it's time to prioritize. Start by ranking the items based on their importance and then refine your rankings based on feedback from stakeholders, customer research, etc. 

Step 4: Refine the Backlog Continuously

The Backlog should be a living document that is constantly being refined and updated based on new information. Make sure to review the Backlog regularly and adjust the priorities as needed.

Backlog glossary

When to Use Backlog Management

Backlog Management is particularly useful for Agile teams that are working on complex products that require frequent changes and updates. Effectively managing the Backlog can help your Product Teams stay organized and focused on delivering value to customers.

Backlog Management in action 

As a Product Manager for a SaaS platform, I used Backlog Management to prioritize features and enhancements based on customer feedback and business value. Regularly reviewing the Backlog and adjusting priorities helps us deliver new features and enhancements that meet the needs of our customers while also driving business growth.

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