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What is a Backlog? Definition, Types & How to Create It

Last updated: Jun 20, 2024

Cover image: Illustration of a backlog to ensure that the completion process runs more effectively.

What is Backlog?

Backlog is a term that refers to a list of tasks that need to be completed or addressed by a team or individual.

This term is often used in the product development process, whether it be software by DevOps engineers, general business products, or even in large-scale project management.

It is a list of tasks in product management organized based on priority levels or scales to ensure that the completion process runs more effectively.

It also helps facilitate team collaboration and ensures that the most crucial work is prioritized and given more attention.

In the product development process, the prioritized task list is commonly referred to as the product backlog.


How is the Priority Scale Being Determined?

Product backlog is an effective technique for breaking down tasks based on a priority scale.

In general, this technique involves categorizing tasks into different classes and specific time periods to create a more structured working process. Several factors serve as the basis for determining these priorities, such as:

  • Product Value: How much a task contributes to the overall value of the product.
  • Product Complexity: The extent to which a task requires expertise and how well it meets user needs.
  • Functionality: How dependent a product's function is on other elements in the development process.
  • Budget: Considerations regarding development costs, potential revenue, and associated financial impacts.
  • Product and Market Analysis: How well the product meets market needs and expectations.
  • Project Capability and Risks: Evaluation of the difficulty level and risk of task implementation.


Why is Backlog Important?

After you understand “what is backlog”, you might be as well curious about why this priority list is crucial for design and product development teams.

In general, this list of tasks will continue to evolve and encompasses all aspects of product development. 

Its existence is crucial because only through the backlog can the efficiency of time and workflow in product development run smoothly and minimize obstacles.

It serves as a container to hold various inputs related to product development and management, discussing features or quality improvements for a product. 

With this list, all these ideas and suggestions can be documented along with many other priorities.

When the time comes for evaluation, the product owner (the person responsible for the project) can conduct discussions to determine whether the suggestions recorded within the platform are worth implementing or not.


Objectives and Benefits of Product Backlog

It's worth noting that the log also includes types such as bug fixes, the addition of new features, and infrastructure updates. 

Therefore, it not only serves as a guide to ensure tasks run efficiently but also as a solid management foundation to improve quality and responsiveness to market needs. Some objectives of it include:

  • Enhancing the team's focus on priority tasks without neglecting other tasks.
  • Helping the team gain a clear view of tasks that need to be completed.
  • Minimizing miscommunication and improving synergy among development teams regarding tasks to be completed.
  • Assisting in estimating, refining, and prioritizing tasks to be completed in the future.
  • Improving the accuracy of product development and minimizing errors during the software development process.


Types of Backlog

In general, there are three types of backlog categorized based on the type of tasks. Here's a more detailed explanation.

1. Architectural Backlog

This is a vital part of software development that ensures the sustainability and robustness of the system. 

Its main focus is on building, maintaining, and improving the system's architecture. Therefore, task explanations in this kind are generally brief, concise, and clear to provide concrete guidance to the development team.

Example"Upgrade cmlabs tools to the latest version."

2. Functional Backlog

Unlike the previous type, the functional type generally provides detailed explanations about a requirement in the development process. 

This kind of list is done through user stories to visualize how the system will be used. Therefore, its explanations use three main components:

  • Who (who performs the action)
  • What (the action performed)
  • Why (the impact of that action).

Example: "As a user, I use the Title & Meta Checker Tool by cmlabs, so that metadata visualization can be navigated accurately."

3. Technical Debt

It is a list of tasks that arises as a consequence of work quality beyond expectations. This phenomenon usually occurs after the product has been launched, making the technical debt backlog always a top priority to address. 

Technical debt orders are generally conveyed succinctly and clearly and include information about the necessary fixes.

Example: "An error occurs when trying to repeat the checking process sequentially."


Some Good Product Backlog Examples

Product backlog is a crucial part that plays a role beyond just being a task list. Hence, there are some fundamental characteristics that need to be considered to ensure the effectiveness and smoothness of the development process. Below are some of the characteristics of a well-built backlog examples:

  • Organized with simple, clear, and comprehensive language to avoid miscommunication among team members with various roles.
  • Prioritization reflects business needs, product value, and user expectations.
  • Organized based on collaboration with the development team to set priorities.
  • Tasks have a balanced sense of urgency and deadlines.
  • Detailed User Story descriptions.


How to Create A Backlog

If you intend to maximize online business marketing strategies, you need to ensure that the development process for the website or web app runs smoothly first. 

As for that, integrative and continuous collaboration among team members is required. Here is a more complete guide to how to create it optimally.

1. Determine the Product Goals

The process can be started with a crucial step: determining Product Goals. The Product Owner plays a crucial role in this step since data related to business needs or product goals must be thoroughly understood first.

To identify business needs to be met or problems to be addressed, you can analyze:

  • Problems that arise and need to be solved (problems to be solved).
  • Propose a suitable solution as a step in solving the problem (proposed solution).
  • Determine the success criteria for the proposed solution (success indicator).

2. Create the Product Backlog Item (PBI)

The next step is to determine PBI. In this process, you need to consider several main components of PBI, such as:

  • PBI Number: To distinguish one PBI from another and facilitate task tracking.
  • PBI Description: Elaborated based on the type as described earlier.
  • Business Value: The benefits obtained after the successful implementation of the solution.
  • Weight: The level of difficulty in execution, generally determined by the development team.

3. Determine the Priority Sequence

The next step is to set the priority sequence. This is a critical step to ensure the team can focus on work.

To determine the priority scale, you can observe Business Value Analysis. This means PBIs are ranked from the highest to the lowest value.

4. Determine Sprint Velocity

After PBIs have prioritization and weight estimates, the next step is to determine sprint velocity, which is the amount of work that can be completed in one sprint.

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