Now that I have discussed the four main meetings in the Scrum method of agile software development, I would like to recommend to teams that they consider adding one more to the mix: the preparation of the scrum product order book. Although the scrum product backlog preparation (or maintenance) meeting is not a formal part of the Scrum process, Scrum founder Ken Schwaber cautions that teams spend five percent of their time, per sprint, on this activity. (As with the other Scrum meetings, it is recommended that the preparation of the Scrum product backlog take place at the same time and place and for the same duration in each sprint.)

The team, the Product Owner and ScrumMaster attend the backlog preparation meeting. During the meeting, everyone works together to prepare the pending work for the next sprint planning meeting. This could include adding new stories and epics, extracting stories from existing epics, and estimating the effort of existing stories. Why do this? Because a well-maintained backlog will prevent sprint planning meetings from taking an unnecessarily long time. If the Scrum product backlog items are written with clearly defined acceptance criteria and estimated by the right team members, the planning process won’t stop with work that could have been done before the meeting.

Spending time in each sprint maintaining the scrum product backlog ensures that this preliminary planning always happens. It also leads to lengthy, even tense conversations about estimating, prioritizing, etc. Irrelevant. In general, the preparation of the Scrum product backlog offers the project team the opportunity to discuss stories and modify them before the planning meeting. It can be difficult for a team to walk away from their work mid-sprint, but this preventative maintenance will help keep sprint planning meetings productive and straightforward.