Product Backlog + Process Backlog = Success!

Flexibility and agility are key to success and business performance.  Many Service providers have adopted Agile methods to ensure that they can meet demand for increasing changes in business requirements.  Product Backlogs are common and are generally understood; but what about Process Backlogs?

Product Backlog – In the “Scrum Guide” Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland describe the Product Backlog as an ordered list of everything that might be needed in the product.  It is the single source of requirements for changes to be made to the product. The Product Owner is responsible for the Product Backlog, including its content, availability, and ordering.  A Product Backlog is never complete. The earliest development of it only lays out the initially known and best-understood requirements. The Product Backlog evolves as the product and the environment in which it will be used evolves. The Product Backlog is dynamic; it constantly changes to identify what the product needs to be appropriate, competitive, and useful. As long as a product exists, its Product Backlog also exists. The Product Backlog lists all features, functions, requirements, enhancements, and fixes that constitute the changes to be made to the product in future releases. Product Backlog items have the attributes of a description, order, estimate and value.

Agile Process Design - applies the same approach to process design that software developers apply to product development.  Each process is built and potentially released in small, frequent increments.  New procedures and behaviors are introduced gradually, providing greater opportunity for normalization as well as for more frequent feedback and input to guide the future direction of the process. An iterative and incremental approach to process design also allows ITSM processes to mature organically and holistically.  Dependent increments can be built simultaneously or in succession.  Most importantly, the organization can test the boundaries of "just enough" process throughout the service lifecycle.

Process Backlog - In the "Agile Service Management Guide" Jayne Groll describes the Process Backlog as the single source of current or future process requirements.  This includes process activities, tool updates, plans, interfaces, documentation, training and improvements for a single ITSM process.  The Process Backlog continually evolves, is regularly re-prioritized and is never complete.  It exists as long as the process exists. It is solely owned and managed by the Process Owner.  The form and format of the Process Backlog is not prescribed - items can be captured in anything from a Kanban Board to a spreadsheet to a database.  It should be visible to all process stakeholders and readily available for inspection.  Each item in the Process Backlog should be expressed in a User Story. A User Story is a simple statement that describes what a user or process practitioner wants from an aspect of the process.  It is always written from the user's perspective and in their words.  It is not meant to include all of the details about the process aspect but is intended to encourage further dialogue and collaboration.

Like the Product Backlog, the Process Backlog is dynamic and evolves as the process evolves. End-to-end agility can only be achieved if Agile thinking and practices are integrated and exercised by both development and operational teams. Integrating ITSM processes with agility means that the service provider must adopt and adapt to new ways of thinking.  

If you are interested in learning more about Agile and Scrum from a products and process perspective or would like for yourself and your staff to become a Certified Agile Service Manager (CASM) or Certified Agile Process Owner (CAPO) click here 


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