Come for the products,
stay for the community

The Atlassian Community can help you and your team get more value out of Atlassian products and practices.

Atlassian Community about banner
4,300,911
Community Members
 
Community Events
165
Community Groups

Using Checklists to Battle Backlog Bloat

In product development (as in life!), it’s much easier to think of things that need to be done than to actually do them. That’s one use of a backlog. You can store those ideas until you’re ready to work on them. But do this for a long time and your backlog can become bloated, making it difficult for the product manager to get a visual representation of future work.

There may be issues, and even epics, in your backlog that you know you’re not going to develop in the next few sprints - or maybe even the next few months. Rather than cluttering your backlog with all of those issues - why not store them in one place with a checklist? (Note that I am with the team behind Issue Checklist for Jira, but you can find several checklist apps in the Marketplace.)

Let’s say my company has a cloud app that we want to take to data center. We’ll have a lot of work to do; writing new code, testing, applying for data center approval from Atlassian, etc. Our goal is to have the data center app available by the end of the year, but before we can get started we’re going to need to expand our team. 

Hiring takes time, so it’s easier for the Product Manager to see what’s going on if the backlog isn’t cluttered up with issue that we’re not going to start on for weeks or maybe even months. On the other hand, the team may have some ideas that they want to keep track of before work on the data center app actually starts.

Using a checklist allows you to collapse an epic into a single issue, until you’re ready to start developing it. 

DataCenter.png

Later, when the PM decides that it’s now time to work on the topic (in this example the data center app), he/she can create an Epic and comb through the checklist items to see if they are appropriate stories. 

Depending on the app you use, a checklist item can be converted into an issue in a single click, allowing the PM to quickly build the Epic. For checklist items that aren’t appropriate, or aren’t ready, the PM can delete them from the checklist, or leave them for later consideration. This ensures that epic only contains stories that are truly ready for development.

ConvertToIssue.png

Users can comment on the Epic and the PM may write new checklist items, or team members can add items to the checklist themselves.  The list format allows the potential stories to appear as individual items, rather than be lost or lumped together in the description field. However, they do not get made into issues until the PM determines that they will indeed be developed in an upcoming sprint. 

This strategy keeps the backlog from becoming overwhelming. Sometimes, you can even delete stories in the backlog and regroup them into one story with multiple checklist items underneath it.


In a previous post I compared a product backlog to a garden. Both require regular tending to optimize growth. Using a single issue with a checklist as a placeholder for future epics is sort of like doing successive plantings. When you’re planting your garden, you have to remember that you don’t want more than you can eat to be ready for harvesting at the same time. In development, your PM doesn’t want more than can be visualized in the backlog at the same time. It’s better to stagger your plantings a few weeks (a few sprints) apart.

0 comments

Comment

Log in or Sign up to comment
TAGS

Community Events

Connect with like-minded Atlassian users at free events near you!

Find an event

Connect with like-minded Atlassian users at free events near you!

Unfortunately there are no Community Events near you at the moment.

Host an event

You're one step closer to meeting fellow Atlassian users at your local event. Learn more about Community Events

Events near you