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Home -> Development -> Sprint Backlog
ATL - Sprint Backlog

Sprint Backlog

The sprint backlog is the list of tasks that the Scrum team is committing that they will complete in the current sprint. Items on the sprint backlog are drawn from the Product Backlog, by the team based on the priorities set by the Product Owner and the team's perception of the time it will take to complete the various features.

It is critical that the team selects the items and size of the sprint backlog. Because they are the ones committing to completing the tasks they must be the ones to choose what they are committing to.

The sprint backlog is very commonly maintained as an Excel spreadsheet but it is also possible to use your defect tracking system or any of a number of software products designed specifically for Scrum or agile. An example of the Sprint Backlog in Excel looks like this:

Tasks Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri
Code the user interface 16 8 4    
Code the middle tier 24 16 12 8 2
Test the middle tier 6 16 16 10 8
Code the payment provider     10 12 12
Test the payment provider     4 18 20
Implement online help   12 4    
Implement class document 8 10 12 8 4
Add error logging   10   8  
Add audit logging 4 4 6 8 6

During the Sprint the ScrumMaster maintains the sprint backlog by updating it to reflect which tasks are completed and how long the team thinks it will take to complete those that are not yet done. The estimated work remaining in the sprint is calculated daily and graphed, resulting in a sprint burndown chart like this one:

Sprint burndown

The team does its best to pull the right amount of work into the sprint but sometimes too much or too little work is pulled in during the Sprint planning meeting. In this case the team needs to add or remove tasks. In the above sprint burndown chart you can see that the team had pulled in too much work initially and still had nearly 600 hours to go on 5/16/02. In this case the Product Owner was consulted and it was agreed to remove some work from the sprint, which resulted in the big drop on the chart between 5/16/02 (619 hours) and 5/17/02. From there the team made good consistent progress and finished the sprint successfully.

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