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Virtual Panel: Is the Backlog a Vital Artifact and Practice or Waste?

| by Amr Elssamadisy Follow 0 Followers on Apr 21, 2009. Estimated reading time: less than one minute |

Dave West wrote an article for InfoQ suggesting that backlogs are very important, in fact essential, if software development is seen as theory building.  This article had several readers pinging in with their opinions which were all accross the board.  Later, a discussion picked up again on the leanagile Yahoo! Group.  The interest and/or conflict that this article indicates that this is a point that can benefit from further clarity.

To that end, InfoQ contacted several thought-leaders in the industry: Mary Poppendieck, Ron Jeffries, Jeff Patton, David West, Steve Freeman, and Jason Yip to explore this issue further.  We asked them to address the following points:

  1. What is the purpose of a backlog in your opinion?
  2. How would you define a backlog?
  3. When/where should a backlog be considered waste?
  4. When/where should a backlog be considered essential?
  5. Is there a question or questions that I should have asked and I haven't?  If so, please ask and answer.

Their answers are presented in Virtual Panel: Is the Backlog a Vital Artifact and Practice or Waste?

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Thank you for this post with great information on backlogs by Chris Sterling

After reading all of the important details laid out by each of the thought leaders interviewed, it was nice to see a summary of what was in common. It occurred to me that there were many perspectives with these commonalities and then some specific points of emphasis for each thought leader. I wrote a blog entry on "Product Backlog Rules of Thumb" a couple months ago that goes much along the same lines:

chrissterling.gettingagile.com/2009/02/07/produ...

Thanks again for some great information.

Physical enforcement by Milo Hyson

In response to Ron Jeffries' statement that a computer-based backlog is dangerous, I think it could be argued that if one requires the limitations of a physical medium to enforce self-discipline, then that person has bigger problems. The use of index-cards should not be necessary. If it is, then something is wrong with the individuals involved, not with the work-tracking system.

The same can be said of other practices, like stand-up meetings. If a team cannot conduct a short, concise meeting while seated around a table then it could be said that something is wrong with the team.

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