Backlogs: How many do you have?


Backlogs are an inherent part of software companies — many articles talk about the need for a backlog, prioritizing it iteratively, having more details for higher priority items, etc. but there’s not much guidance on how many backlogs should a company have. And that’s what we’ll discuss in this blog post.

Some people I’ve come across think there needs to be one backlog and pick the top items from the list for implementation. That’s a flawed approach because in a typical ‘single backlog approach’ the items would be weighed in a mix of several business priorities and at the end of the day you’d have achieved less-than-100% of few things and not 100% of even one thing.

So, how many backlogs should a company have?

One?

Two?

Five?

One for each VP… maybe

multiple-goalsImage credit: thedigitalprojectmanager.com

The correct way to tackle backlogs is from the perspective of business priorities. Below is a simple step-by-step guide:

1. Jot down all the corporate objectives & business initiatives, with their preferred timing (let’s call them ‘goals’)

2. Allocate budget for each goal

3. Have a separate backlog for each goal

4. In each backlog, prioritize items with value, effort, and impact to its specific goal. Typically, the stronger an item impacts the goal the higher is its priority. This way the rank of each item in the backlog could be assessed against the impact to its goal.

5. Time the backlog implementation (based on the overall goal timing, see #1)

6. Using the allocated cost/resources, knock down items starting from the top of the list

I believe this method helps us to concentrate our resources, remain focused, and create meaningful impact to the business.

Would love to hear how many backlogs you have and on what basis do you build them!

About Mohamed-Aneez
Passionate about Product Leadership

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