Aligning and Balancing your Backlog

This is a review of Luke Hohmann’s excellent blog series on Product Backlog Prioritization. As usual, I have captured what I believe to be the salient points in a visual note.  The main points are to:

  1. Align with Company Strategy
  2. Balance stakeholder demands
  3. Drive Profit

Starting at the top left and going clockwise…

Company Strategy.  Do you know what it is?  Do you know the top 3 priorities. Do you know the product strategy? As product owners, we want to eliminate the work that does not align with these. We also want to focus on those that are most strongly aligned with strategy.

Software By Numbers is a great concept but is difficult to use in practice. Firstly, no one has then numbers and secondly business value models need to account for intangibles.

Driving PROFIT is one aspect of a healthy model. Several different approaches (customer pipeline, market research, etc) can be used to identify key business drivers. Hohmann argues that these are at the theme or epic level rather than an MMF (minimum marketable feature).

Finally, it is critical that product releases satisfy internal and external stakeholders. For me, this is perhaps the deepest insight in this blog. Product owners need to listen to and support a wide constituency for a product to reach its potential value to an organization. In my work as a coach, I sadly notice internal stakeholders such as architecture, support and services are frequently ignored. If you haven’t already used them, Innovation Games® are a great way to understand and make choices.

Michael K Sahota guides and teaches leaders how to create high-performance organizations. He is the creator of a proven system for leading change through a practical playbook. His model for Consciously Approaching Agile guides the creation of a cultural and leadership context where Agile drives lasting organizational results. As a Certified Agile Leadership (CAL) Educator with the Scrum Alliance, Michael has taught hundreds of leaders on a worldwide basis.

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