Product Backlog vs. Sprint Backlog

If you are new to the Agile world or just want to incorporate new ideas into your traditional ways of working you can create two deliverables to help track your requirements. Two that I use for both Agile and waterfall projects are the product and sprint backlogs.

Product Backlog

  • A product backlog is a list of all desired product features (whether you plan to implement them or not).
  • The Product Backlog can contain business and technical requirements, ideas for future enhancements, bugs, and non-functional items.
  • The product backlog is maintained by the product owner (BA in a traditional world) who is responsible for prioritizing the backlog.
  • Items can be added by anyone at any time. Items are often added after each sprint, phase, or milestone as stakeholders start to flush out what they really need the product to do.
  • Each item should have a business value assigned. This helps to plan iterations and schedule resources required.

Think of the Product Backlog as the master list of ideas and out of these ideas the features of the product will be developed. I use the product backlog to help generate the Sprint Backlog (Agile) and BRD (Traditional) deliverables.

Sprint Backlog

  • The Sprint backlog is a deliverable created as a subset of the Product Backlog.
  • The Sprint backlog is a to-do list of backlog items to be completed in the current iteration.
  • The product owner (often the BA) is responsible for defining the items with the highest value or priority.
  • The sprint backlog is created by the team doing the work meaning that the team selects what backlog items they will complete for the current iteration.
  • The Sprint backlog is often paired with a burndown chart to show how much work is remaining in each iteration.

These two deliverables are great for a BA in both the Agile and Traditional worlds. They help organize ideas that turn into requirements and features and they are often used to help produce other project deliverables.

By Morgan

CBAP and PMI-ACP with over 20 years of Project management and Business Analysis experience.