What is the difference between Product Backlog and Sprint Backlog?

  • 3
    You only tagged this with agile. What particular framework or methodology are you using? Given the use of Product Backlog and Sprint Backlog, it sounds like Scrum. Have you read the Scrum Guide, which has sections that define these artifacts? If you're using a different framework, what framework and have you read it's associated information - the definitions are likely to be provided there. If you've read these resources, what don't you understand about them?
    – Thomas Owens
    Oct 27, 2017 at 16:17
  • 2
    I don't disagree with Thomas about these points, but I feel safe assuming the framework they are using is Scrum or a scaling framework that uses the terms identically. It is also my experience that (right or wrong) many people aren't even aware that the Scrum Guide exists, so thank you for linking it. I also linked it in my answer. I did, however, take a very narrow view of the question in my answer.
    – Daniel
    Oct 27, 2017 at 16:38

3 Answers 3


Product Backlog

The Scrum Guide says a lot about the Product Backlog, but here's a short piece that's a good start:

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.

There is an important point to be made here though. It is not a "scope document". Anything that could be worked on for the product goes into the backlog, but there is no assumption of permanence to it. The backlog will constantly change and items will be refined, removed, and added.

The purpose of the product backlog is to provide a single, ordered list of work so at any time, anyone (on the team or off) can see what may be worked on and where its likely priority is.

You'll also find that teams spend a lot of time focusing on the top of the Backlog and not worrying much about what's lower down until it works its way up. As the Scrum Guide puts it:

Higher ordered Product Backlog items are usually clearer and more detailed than lower ordered ones. More precise estimates are made based on the greater clarity and increased detail; the lower the order, the less detail. Product Backlog items that will occupy the Development Team for the upcoming Sprint are refined so that any one item can reasonably be “Done” within the Sprint time-box.

Sprint Backlog

During Sprint Planning, the Scrum Team determines a Sprint Goal and identifies the associated items from the Product Backlog. These items are added to the Sprint Backlog, but that isn't everything. The Development Team will then decide how they want to do the work and that will most often result in tasks being created to complete each backlog item in the sprint backlog. (I'm giving Sprint Planning a light treatment here. You can read more details in the Scrum Guide)

To summarize:

The Sprint Backlog is the set of Product Backlog items selected for the Sprint, plus a plan for delivering the product Increment and realizing the Sprint Goal. The Sprint Backlog is a forecast by the Development Team about what functionality will be in the next Increment and the work needed to deliver that functionality into a “Done” Increment.


The Product Backlog is the list of all tasks and ideas that relate to the product. It could be infinitely long, but organised and prioritised constantly - the ultimate wish list. It represents the total potential product, some of which may never make it to development.

Sprint Backlog refers the the batch of items you pull in for one sprint - the items you actually plan to develop within a period of time (e.g 2 weeks).


Product Backlog is simply a list of all things that needs to be done within the project

Sprint Backlog is a list of tasks identified by the Scrum team to be completed during the Scrum sprint

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