The Scrum methodology of agile software development marks a dramatic departure from waterfall management. In fact, Scrum and other agile processes were inspired by its shortcomings. The Scrum methodology emphasizes communication and collaboration, functioning software, and the flexibility to adapt to emerging business realities — all attributes that suffer in the rigidly ordered waterfall paradigm.
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Backlog grooming (also called maintenance) is not a formal component of the Scrum process, Ken Schwaber, who founded Scrum, advises teams to dedicate five percent of every sprint to this activity. (As with Scrum’s other meetings, the grooming should take place at the same time and place and for the same duration each sprint.)
Everyone attends the backlog grooming meeting: the team, the Product Owner, and the ScrumMaster. During the maintenance meeting, everyone helps prepare the scrum backlog for the sprint planning meeting. This usually includes adding new stories and epics, extracting stories from existing epics, and estimating effort for existing stories. Why is this helpful? Because a groomed backlog will help streamline sprint planning meetings; otherwise, they can stretch on for hours. When product backlog items contain clearly defined acceptance criteria and are estimated by the appropriate team members, the planning process does not have to be tense or overly long. By dedicating a time to backlog maintenance, the team ensures that this preliminary planning always occurs prior to the sprint planning meeting.
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