Managing Your Backlog


Managing the backlog is one of the keys to Agile project management. The Backlog is the equivalent to the work breakdown structure in traditional project management. It is the list of work that needs to be performed to either build or enhance a product. It consists of stories listed in priority order (priority view) or grouped into themes or epic (hierarchical view).  

Work in Agile project management is recorded as stories, traditionally with a more open-ended statement of what the author wants to accomplish rather than a complete set of specs. By stating the outcome, it allows the developers the freedom to determine how something can be accomplished with the end goal in mind rather than mindlessly driving toward a specification. 

StarTeam Agile has two ways to add stories to a backlog: Quick Story and Detailed Story. The Quick Story allows you to add a story by entering only a title and estimating story points. This is useful when you want to capture a story quickly and come back later to fill in the details. A Detailed Story provides all of the options for creating a story including a text window for entering acceptance criteria, indicating the story type, the owner, and a value vs. risk estimate.

In StarTeam Agile, you can view the backlog in either the ranking or hierarchical view. The Ranking view shows the stories based on the priority assigned to them by the product owner. The Hierarchical view is used to show stories based on how they are organized based in epics/themes or stand alone stories. An Epic is composed of related stories that may not be able to be completed in a single sprint. The product owner and product manager break the epics down into stories that can be completed and launched at the end of the sprint, but may not complete the entire epic story.

An example of an epic story for an online community platform could be "As a user, I want to be able to create a user account with a profile that will enable other users to see details about who I am so they know my areas of expertise." The stories associated with this epic could include:

  • Create a user account
  • Create a user profile page with X, Y, and Z fields
  • Allow user to upload an avatar
  • When User A clicks on User B's name in the forums, the link will open User B's profile page.
See Also: 
Ranking Stories in the Backlog (video)
Editing Stories in the Backlog (video)
Breaking Down an Epic in the Backlog (video)
Comment List
  • The drag and drop functionality within the Hierarchical deserves additional explanation. I notice that when I select and drag a story a blue line appears that indicates the level in the hierarchy that I am dropping the story at - the blue line will be longer the higher up the hierarchy I go and shorter at the lower levels. If I drag a story directly onto another story this will make that story a child of the targetted story.

    btw - I can't find the section "Breaking Down an Epic in the Backlog", maybe that section would describe this...?