Product backlog vs Sprint backlog

Product Backlog vs Sprint Backlog Major Differences

Product Backlog and Sprint Backlog are the most important Scrum Artifacts with the other artifacts being Shippable Product Increment, Release Burndown, and Sprint Burndown. The primary purpose of these Artifacts is to enhance “Transparency”, the first leg of Empirical Process Control. In this article, we shall discuss these two artifacts in detail, and finally, we shall look at the question of Product Backlog VS Sprint Backlog and elaborate on each of the differences between the Product Backlog and Sprint Backlog.

PRODUCT BACKLOG

It is the list of all the features that the Product Owner would like to see in the finished product. This list constantly evolves and changes over time. The product backlog is a ‘Constantly evolving Artifact’, and it answers the question – “What is most important to build next ?”

The Product Owner maintains the backlog and works with the business stakeholders to form requirements. He also works with the team to get suggestions, Technical inputs, and estimates. Since the Product Backlog contains features that are prior to the lifetime of the whole product as opposed to the release, a number of features that the product owner would like to release are referred to as a Release Backlog.

SPRINT BACKLOG

It is the set of items that the development team will work on in a Sprint to deliver an increment. It is the selection from the product backlog, initially picked by the product owner, but finally committed to by the development team.

It consists of features, tasks, and estimates of each of them.

Product Backlog VS Sprint Backlog 

In the below table, we shall examine each of the differences between Product Backlog and Sprint Backlog. It can also be called a Release backlog vs Sprint backlog. 

Difference Factor PRODUCT BACKLOG SPRINT BACKLOG
Creation Product Backlog will be created only once for every Product/Project at the beginning and the Product Owner creates the Product Backlog. Sprint Backlog is created for every Sprint in the Sprint Backlog. The Developers will create the Sprint Backlog in collaboration with the Product Owner in the Sprint Backlog.
Content Product Backlog contains the possible “known” items of the Product at any point in time. These items are nothing but anything that is needed to improve the Product. Product Backlog contains the “WHY”, and “WHAT”. The “WHY” is the Product Goal Sprint Backlog contains only the items that are selected for the current Sprint. It is a subset of the Product Backlog. Sprint Backlog contains “WHY”, “WHAT”, and “HOW” Also. The “WHY” is the Sprint Goal
Ownership The Product Owner owns the Product Backlog. He/she has complete authority on the content and the order of the Product Backlog. Scrum Team (Developers) own the Sprint Backlog. They use it to manage their work during the Sprint.
Management The Product Owner is accountable for the Product Backlog Management. Even though he/she can delegate this to others, he/she remains accountable. The Scrum Team (Developers) collectively are responsible for managing the Sprint Backlog. They are self-managing so they will have to keep the Sprint Backlog up-to-date throughout the Sprint.
Changes Product Backlog can be changed at any point in time based on the need Sprint Backlog cannot change during the Sprint if the change(s) endanger the Sprint Goal
Details of the Items All items that are in the Product Backlog may not be detailed. Only the higher-order items will be more granular and more detailed compared to lower-order items. All the items in the Sprint Backlog will have enough details as they will be implemented in the current Sprint.
Sharing In case there are multiple teams working on the same product, then all the Scrum Teams will share the same Product Backlog. Sprint Backlog cannot be shared by multiple Scrum Teams. Each Scrum Team will have its own Sprint Backlog.
Refinement Product Backlog Items will be continuously refined during the PBR activity, the Product Backlog Refinement. There is no refinement needed for the Sprint Backlog as they were already discussed during earlier Product Backlog Refinement or the current Sprint Planning. If needed, the Developers can discuss the queries with the Product Owner throughout the Sprint for the current Sprint items. So there is no need for a separate refinement.
Estimation All the items in the Product Backlog may not be estimated always. The estimation for the upcoming items will be estimated during the Product Backlog Refinement. All the items in the Sprint Backlog will be estimated before they are taken into the Sprint Backlog.
Life span Product Backlog is a living artifact. As long as the Product Development goes on, it can undergo additions, removals, and or changes for the Product Backlog Items. Sprint Backlog life is only till the Sprint ends. At the end of the Sprint, the items that are not done will be moved back to the Product Backlog and a new Sprint Backlog is created during every Sprint Planning event with a new Sprint Goal, Items to meet the Sprint Goal and a plan for the Developers to implement those selected items.

Responsibilities over Product backlog and Sprint Backlog

Product Owner needs to take care of the Product Backlog and make sure it is Transparent, Visible, and understood to the Developers and also to the Stakeholders.

Developers should keep the Sprint Backlog always up-to-date so that it will create transparency on the work progress during the Sprint.

Scrum Master should help the Product Owner and Developers in order to effectively manage the Product Backlog and Sprint Backlog.

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