Product Backlog vs. Sprint Backlog: What are the Differences?

Product Backlog is a list of product requirements for product development. A product backlog is updated before the product is built to ensure product quality.

The Sprint Backlog list, by its name, contains all the tasks that must be completed during a single sprint. However, because only what’s needed from the product backlog is selected and placed into a sprint backlog, some have come to confuse it as being synonymous with the product backlog itself.

In this article, we explore how product and sprint backlogs differ from each other as tools used for project management. We also examine why they are separate entities even though they use some overlapping terminology. Finally, we discuss why communication between product management and software engineers is crucial when dealing with both product and sprint backlogs to avoid any possible confusion.

A product backlog is a list of product requirements that a scrum product owner has deemed most valuable for inclusion in a product’s next major release. Everyone needs to know who owns the sprint backlog.

In the early days of agile software development, when scrum was still in its infancy, product backlogs and sprint backlogs were used interchangeably in product development methodologies.

Pragmatically speaking, however, not all requirements from the product backlog can be completed within a single sprint—the length of which is usually one month or less in total hours dedicated to completing the project—without an undue risk of losing track on what must be done first and what can’t wait until later in the product release cycle. The size of a product backlog will also vary depending on how many products are being worked on and the product development methodology being employed.

The product backlog can be considered an overarching list of product requirements, features and enhancements grouped by product release and further divided into releases and product iterations. A product release is a version of a product that has been released for customer use. The product backlog contains items from several themes or epics , which are groups of related stories, usually covering aspects of a single product feature. Phases within a sprint may also include user stories often derived from epics or themed product backlogs to ensure the development team stays focused on what needs to be done in that particular phase. 

Product-oriented teams frequently employ scrum masters who facilitate collaboration with various stakeholders across the organization to refine requirements as they pertain to product backlog items, and product owners who represent the interests of shareholders.

– product backlog

– product backlog definition

This product backlog is somewhat different from a traditional product backlog in that it is very comprehensive and includes all the needs for the product (i.e., not just functional requirements) presents options where there may be tradeoffs involved allows for input from different levels within the organization provides entry points into the product development process facilitates prioritization of product features by enabling comparison among features at multiple levels of granularity including: overall feature importance, individual feature importance, overall effort vs. benefit, etc.

The product owner works with stakeholders to determine product release priorities using this information as input. When a sprint is created in an agile project, product backlog items are selected from the product release plan to ensure they align with the product release priorities.

The product backlog is a list of all product requirements that have yet to be worked on. It is dynamic in that it constantly changes as product features are added, removed or reprioritized based on customer feedback and product owner decisions. The product owner prioritizes product enhancements and other new work for a sprint using the ordered product backlog.

Differences between Product Backlog vs. Sprint Backlog are:

1. Product Backlog is a product planning tool or product vision.

2. Sprint Backlog is a product development tool used by scrum teams to build product increment in upcoming sprint.

3. Product Owner has full authority over product backlog contents whereas it’s Scrum Master responsibility to maintain Sprint Backlog contents.

4. Product Backlog items are not assigned to individual users, but are rather ordered based on priority whereas product backlog items are added t o sprint backlog t o show work planned for the next iteration, user stories should be associated with the specific developer who will implement them during the current sprint cycle .

5 . We can change product backlog anytime but we cannot change Sprint backlog mid-sprint, any changes made t o product backlog at mid-sprint leads product owner t o re-prioritize product backlog items for future sprints .

6. Product backlog is a collection of all product requirements, whereas Sprint Backlog represents the work on product backlog which has been committed to and planned by the team for the upcoming sprint.

7. Once product backlog is updated, no changes are made t o Sprint Backlog until the next sprint planning meeting takes place where as product requests can be added, changed or removed anytime during current project’s development lifecycle .

8. Product backlog contains product features, enhancements, bug fixes etc., Whereas Sprint Backlog contains selected product backlog stories that have been broken down into manageable chunks called user stories with defined acceptance criteria that could be tested.

9. Product backlog contains product features, enhancements, bug fixes etc., whereas sprint backlog is a list of product backlog items relevant to the current Sprint which are broken down into manageable chunks called user stories with defined acceptance criteria that could be tested.

10. It lists all the tasks that need to be done during product development or product management cycle.

11. Product Backlog is a group of product requirements whereas Sprint backlog contains selected product backlog Items relevant to current Sprint are broken down into manageable chunks called user stories with defined acceptance criteria so they can be tested .