I am a new PO so please help me or guide to understand this better.

Per Scrum Guide, I do Sprint planning, my o/p is sprint goal and sprint backlog. I already come to the meeting with PBs and user stories. We do 2 week sprints.

Should I conduct Backlog Refinement meeting IN this sprint meeting?

Also, atlassian.com says the following

If you have a two-week sprint, run a backlog refinement meeting in the middle of the sprint. It’s great for the team to step back from the sprint and look at what's next. Not only does it help prepare for sprint planning, but also can give a different perspective for the current work.

What does run a backlog refinement meeting in the middle of sprint even mean? I thought we will have one refinement session per sprint and rest of status is done with daily scrum in tandem with looking into sprint backlog.

Also, Scrum guide says in the sprint backlog, add one item which aligns to process improvement from the previous retrospective. How do you guys do this? Any real example that you can give me is immensely useful.

Scrum guide says development team can't remove items from sprint backlog ONLY PO can do this. My development team tells me they can't complete one PB item as given in the sprint backlog. There was an issue (bug) that came up which my team had to concentrate. My plan of action is to add the unfinished item to Product Backlog. Go about prioritizing and then allow the development team to create sprint backlog again with the new PB that is created. I am trying to push the item to the next sprint. Is my process correct?

  • Refinement is for crafting and decomposing backlog items for future sprints, not for making changes that impact the current Sprint Goal.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Nov 14, 2019 at 1:44
  • @ToddA.Jacobs Would backlog refinement meeting not be part of sprint planning? or is it recommended to do it separate from sprint planning? Also what time (in terms of hours) is spent on backlog refinement?
    – SPO
    Nov 14, 2019 at 1:50
  • 3
    This question is, in my opinion, too broad. It's asking three distinct questions - one about product backlog refinement sessions, one about managing process improvements in the Sprint Backlog, and one about managing the Sprint Backlog during the Sprint. Each of these is a very distinct question and should be asked in isolation.
    – Thomas Owens
    Nov 14, 2019 at 11:09

1 Answer 1


There are two problems with only doing backlog refinement during Sprint Planning:

  • The Sprint Planning meeting may end up being very long
  • If you realise some information is missing from a story, then it is often too late to do anything about it

There is no simple definition of when you should do backlog refinement or how often you should do it. It depends on the experience of the team, the domain you are working in and many other factors.

Some teams may be capable of doing everything they need in Sprint Planning, but other teams will find that this causes problems.

A good approach is to keep increasing the amount of backlog refinement you do as a team, until if feels like the Sprint Planning meetings are smooth and productive. Typical things you do in a backlog refinement:

  • Product Owner describes to the team stories they have not seen before
  • Team asks questions and gets clarification from the Product Owner
  • Team may do some estimating on product backlog items
  • Team tries to identify any missing information so that there is time to find it out before Sprint Planning takes place

add one item which aligns to process improvement from the previous retrospective

Typically this is done as a part of the Sprint Retrospective. In the retrospective the team discusses how things went in the previous sprint and picks out some potential improvements. For example, an improvement might be to "Hand-off stories to the testers earlier in the sprint". These improvements are added to the sprint backlog for the coming sprint.

My development team tells me they can't complete one PB item as given in the sprint backlog.

The process you describe is fine. We try to avoid it happening, but inevitably sometimes a team is unable to complete backlog items in a sprint. When this happens, they get returned to the product backlog and prioritised alongside the other product backlog items.

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