The 4 keys to a great Product Backlog

A Product Backlog can answer questions like: “What are we going to work on next?” “Are we set to start working on feature ABC?” “Did you know about this bug XYZ?”. This tool will be of great help getting this information to the rest of your team.

What is the Product Backlog?

The Product Backlog is a collection of all needs, defects, and tasks related to a product. They are tactical documents that implement a product strategy.

The Roadmap is a representation of the Product Backlog that considers deadlines, priorities, estimates and dependencies between the different elements.

What does a GREAT Product Backlog look like?

It must provide a shared vision, so the information contained in it must be clear for technical and non-technical users. Besides this, it must be understood and treated as a living tool, and considered the single source of truth of all the known needs across the organization.

Shared to all relevant stakeholders

Different levels of information are ok, but a partial or high-level view of the product roadmap affects different functions of the business. Aim to have a product backlog that is available to every team member or relevant stakeholder. Some companies even make them public!


It must be clear, and include a description that makes it possible to understand the implications without going into technical details. Remember that you are writing for collaborators, this is not a marketing blog post: Use plain and descriptive language. It is also helpful to use images and videos to support your words.


Communicate very clearly that it is a living plan, that will be adapted with the real delivery dates, the changes in the business priority and technical dependencies found along the way. As says: “A Product Backlog is never complete (…) The Product Backlog evolves as the product and the environment in which it will be used evolves.”

Single source of truth

Centralize all the needs that are related to a given product. Don’t fall into the trap of having separated boards for different modules or teams. Having a single board where different teams collaborate is a much better way to manage work, as it allows everyone to see a high level overview that includes all aspects of the product work.

What is the difference between the backlog and the roadmap?

The product backlog is a list of all the work that needs to be done in order to build and maintain a product. It includes both long-term and short-term goals, and it is constantly evolving as priorities change and new ideas are added. The product backlog is owned and managed by the product owner, who is responsible for prioritizing items on the list and ensuring that the development team has a clear understanding of what needs to be done.

The product roadmap is a high-level plan that outlines the vision for the product and the steps that will be taken to achieve that vision. It is a communication tool that is used to align stakeholders and team members around a common strategy. The product roadmap is typically more focused on the long-term direction of the product and may include high-level themes and initiatives rather than specific features and functions.

In summary, the product backlog is a list of specific work items that need to be completed, while the product roadmap is a high-level plan that outlines the overall direction and strategy for the product.

Need more arguments?

If you have reached this point and are still not convinced about committing to using this tool, or just need a little reinforcement or an argument to convince your manager or sourcing team, then I encourage you to read my post “No ticket, no party” where I give you 7 winning arguments to track your tasks.

What tools can we use?

You’re probably wondering about the best tools to do this, so I wrote another post about Product Backlog Tools for different project sizes or complexities as well as different organization cultures.

It’s likely you are using Jira, so you may be interested in this post about the different types of incidences, including the ones you can use out of the box in Jira and how to create your own issue types to keep your product backlog apart from all the other tasks and opportunities.

I also encourage you to learn about prioritization, and to check out the post I wrote sharing 5 proven methods to prioritize your backlog.

One response to “The 4 keys to a great Product Backlog”

  1. […] a previous post I made an introduction to the definition and benefits of Product Backlogs, and now I want to get practical and share with you the different available tools we can use to […]

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