Why we love and hate grooming sessions
For product managers, backlog refinement, or grooming, is a thrilling milestone in a project's lifecycle. It's the moment when you dive headfirst into the work, assessing and strategizing how to bring your vision to life. However, this excitement often comes with a hefty dose of overwhelm. With potentially hundreds of stories to evaluate and prioritize, backlog refinement meetings can stretch on for hours, leaving participants feeling drained and demotivated.
So, how do you strike the perfect balance between the excitement of shaping your project and the practicality of efficient backlog refinement meetings?
In this article, we'll share three powerful methods to supercharge your meetings: live sessions, asynchronous video messaging, and a hybrid approach.
Tips to organize your live grooming sessions
Live meetings can be the lifeblood of backlog refinement when done right. They provide the opportunity for real-time discussion, collaboration, and decision-making.
Here's how to optimize your live meetings for backlog refinement:
- Establish a clear agenda: Start by setting expectations and defining the purpose of the meeting. Outline the stories to be discussed, and ensure everyone is on the same page.
- Prioritize and score stories: To prioritize stories effectively, assign them a score from 1 to 3 based on their level of complexity. This will help you identify high-impact issues and guide your team's focus.
- Use the right visual aids: Whether you prefer physical sticky notes or a digital whiteboard, place your prioritized stories on a table or workspace where they're easily accessible and manipulable. This prevents the frustration of notes falling off a board and keeps your team engaged in the process.
- Add a margin of safety: When scoring points for stories, add a 20% margin to account for unforeseen complexities or challenges that may arise during implementation.
- Start with a spreadsheet: Before diving into a tool like Jira, use a spreadsheet to quickly input and organize your stories. This will save time and streamline the process, allowing for easy importing into your project management software later on. You can assign someone that is in charge of filling this spreadsheet.
- Leverage collaboration tools: Tools like Claap can help you record your meetings, generate AI-powered notes, and allow team members to annotate videos for future reference.
Asynchronous Grooming Sessions
Sometimes, gathering your team for a live meeting isn't feasible or efficient. That's where asynchronous video messaging comes into play.
Here's how to make it work for backlog refinement:
- When the product epic is written, present it to the technical team. Write stories (in Jira, Notion or whatever), but rely on Async Meetings to present the big picture, explain the feature, show the mocks and prototypes, point out resources...
- Keep it structured: When recording a video message, ensure you follow a clear structure. Start with a brief introduction, followed by prioritized backlog items and any supporting context.
- Be concise and clear: Aim for short, easily digestible messages. Avoid using complicated language, and focus on delivering key points effectively. Present first the high level context with the epic, go through the stories then show wireframes and prototypes. You can also use chapters and comments to make your video more digestible (see example below).
- Encourage collaboration: Invite your team to respond with their own video messages, fostering an ongoing dialogue and promoting creative problem-solving. We recommend highlight key moments where you expect people's input. Polls can also be added to vote on important topics.
- Leverage Claap's features: Use Claap's asynchronous video messaging capabilities to streamline communication, organize content, and collaborate more effectively.
While pure async collaboration works for many use cases, we recommend using a more hybrid approach for your grooming sessions 👇
The Hybrid Approach - Combining the Best of Both Worlds
For maximum efficiency and impact, consider combining live meetings with asynchronous video messaging.
This hybrid approach can turbocharge your backlog refinement process:
- Pre-watch videos: Encourage team members to watch video messages before the live meeting. This primes participants with the necessary context and allows for more focused, productive discussions. Your teammates can also start asking questions on the video so they have time to think about user stories.
- Keep live meetings short and focused: With pre-watch videos providing background, live meetings can be more targeted, allowing the team to quickly address pressing concerns and make decisions. In general, the discussion can focus on the most complex stories while the ones that are easy to evaluate can be done async.
- Allocate time for asynchronous follow-up: After the live meeting, provide a window for team members to share additional thoughts or questions via asynchronous video messages.
- Utilize Claap's all-in-one platform: With Claap, you can seamlessly integrate live meetings, asynchronous video messaging, and collaboration tools for a smooth, streamlined experience.
Efficient backlog refinement meetings can transform your team's productivity and project success.
By optimizing live meetings, leveraging asynchronous video messaging, and adopting a hybrid approach, you'll keep your backlog in check and your team focused on what matters most.