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Agile Part 4: Artifacts (the “What”)


What items will I see in this process?

Product Backlog

The product backlog is a high-level list that is maintained throughout the entire project. It aggregates backlog items: broad descriptions of all potential features, prioritized as an absolute ordering by business value. It is therefore the “What” that will be built, sorted by importance. It is open and editable by anyone and contains rough estimates of both business value and development effort. Those estimates help the Product Owner to gauge the timeline and, to a limited extent prioritize. For example, if the “add spellcheck” and “add table support” features have the same business value, the one with the smallest development effort will probably have higher priority, because the ROI (Return on Investment) is higher.

The Product Backlog, and business value of each listed item is the property of the product owner. The associated development effort is however set by the Team.

Sprint Backlog

The sprint backlog is the list of work the team must address during the next sprint. Features are broken down into tasks, which, as a best practice, should normally be between four and sixteen hours of work. With this level of detail the whole team understands exactly what to do, and potentially, anyone can pick a task from the list. Tasks on the sprint backlog are never assigned; rather, tasks are signed up for by the team members as needed, according to the set priority and the team member skills. This promotes self-organization of the team, and developer buy-in.

The sprint backlog is the property of the team, and all included estimates are provided by the Team. Often an accompanying task board is used to see and change the state of the tasks of the current sprint, like “to do”, “in progress” and “done”.

Agile (Scrum) Board

This is a daily diary of the current Sprint and tracks activities that are being worked.

Communicating Progress
Burn Down

The sprint burn down chart is a publicly displayed chart showing remaining work in the sprint backlog. Updated every day, it gives a simple view of the sprint progress. It also provides quick visualizations for reference. There are also other types of burndown, for example the release burndown chart that shows the amount of work left to complete the target commitment for a Product Release (normally spanning through multiple iterations) and the alternative release burndown chart, which basically does the same, but clearly shows scope changes to Release Content, by resetting the baseline.


The velocity of the team is a measure of how much they are capable of delivering during any given Sprint. This value changes over time and will be adjusted at the conclusion of each Sprint.