Definition

When the product owner and elements of the team review items on the backlog to assure that the relevant items are prioritized, and all the items at the top are ready for delivery. That is what is called backlog grooming. This action happens on a regular basis and may be an officially scheduled meeting or an ongoing activity. Some of the activities that occur during this are:

Removal of “user stories” (stories that are no longer relevant)
Creation of user stories according to the latest discovered needs
Evaluation of their priority
Assigning estimates to stories
Correction of the estimates on newly discovered information
Division of user stories which are priority but too unexceptional to fit in an upcoming iteration

Also Known As

Due to the increasingly negative association of the word grooming, this activity is increasingly known as backlog refinement or backlog management. Other terms include “Story Time“. Grooming was originally used to reflect a natural approach to maintaining the backlog.

Expected Benefits

The intent of a “grooming” meeting is to ensure that the backlog still is full of items that are relevant, detailed and estimated to a degree appropriate with their priority, and at the same time, keeping with current understanding of the project or product and its objectives. Unlike a more formal “requirements document” the backlog is understood as a dynamic body of information. For instance, not all user stories need to have been broken down to a choice level at the onset of the project or given detailed estimates; but it is important that at any moment a “sufficient” number of stories should be ready for scheduling in the next few iterations.