I am trying to learn Scrum, and these are some question I have:

Who does the Product Backlog refinement activity?

  1. The whole Scrum Team
  2. Only the Product Owner and the Developers

What is the correct answer?

Reading The 2020 Scrum Guide its seems to be: "1. The whole Scrum Team"

Topic Two: What can be Done this Sprint?
Through discussion with the Product Owner, the Developers select items from the Product Backlog to include in the current Sprint. The Scrum Team may refine these items during this process, which increases understanding and confidence.

Regardin the Scrum Glossary its seems to be: "2. Only the Product Owner and the Developers"

Product Backlog refinement: the activity in a Sprint through which the Product Owner and the Developers add granularity to the Product Backlog.

Thank you for your answers.

4 Answers 4


Both are correct.

The primary people involved are the Product Owner and the Developers. The Product Owner can use the refinement to ensure that the Product Backlog Items are created and clearly communicated, including taking the Developers' input on ordering. The Developers ensure that the Product Backlog Items are sufficiently defined to ensure that they can go into Sprint Planning and create a reasonable plan. The Scrum Master ensures that refinement happens, is effective, and helping to resolve impediments that may come up during or because of refinement.

This is best captured in the Scrum Guide's description of refinement, but it's not made invalid by the Scrum Glossary's definition. The Scrum Glossary doesn't mention the role of the Scrum Master in the refinement activities.

  • 1
    The entire Scrum Team consists of a Product Owner, a Scrum Master, and the developers. The Scrum Master's role is process--to ensure that, as Thomas notes, "refinement happens, is effective," and to resolve any impediments that arise. Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 14:41

Product Backlog Refinement is essentially owned by the Product Owner but can involve the Developers for insights and their theoretical approach to implementation. Note that you don't simulate a small sprint planning here.

The Whole Team includes the Scrum Master which ensures that the process takes place and the end goal is met as expected.

The idea of this exercise is to make sure that everything in the backlog is prioritized correctly, absolutely clear, has value, yet granular enough to keep the sprint in control.

The above aspects of the exercise are things that the product owner needs to provide. The developers involved may challenge or help collaborate on the details with the purpose of increasing the clarity of what the team will have to pick up next sprint.


"Upstairs, Downstairs™" ...

The Product Owner's intended perspective is "outward facing," while the team's own (the Scrum Master's ...) perspective is simultaneously "inward facing." Both of these parties need to simultaneously be looking at "the backlog."

Which, in some ways, is "a to-do list." Yet, of course, "never a simple list, and that's precisely the point."

Each party should be currying through the list, each applying their own designated perspective to it and each working in very close collaboration with each other to set up both the immediate and longer-term plans. In this way, two complementary perspectives are always formally represented at all times in the process. "And that's precisely the point." The essential difference between these two co-equal perspectives has now been formalized.


Refinement, also called Grooming*, involves the whole team but involves more than just the team. It also involves internal and external stakeholders.

Grooming the product backlog is an ongoing collaborative effort led by the product owner and involving significant participation from internal and external stakeholders as well as the Scrum Master and development team.

Rubin, K.S. (2013) Essential Scrum, Addison-Wesley. P. 105

It's a basic principle that the Product Owner owns the backlog. Also note that while many systems use a backlog refining event and it's often referred to as an "activity", backlog refining is a continuous and ongoing process. id. and https://www.scaledagileframework.com/team-backlog/

*In Rubin, referenced above, refinement is only part of the first activity in grooming. The grooming activities are: 1) creating and refining product backlog items (PBIs), 2) estimating PBIs, 3) prioritizing PBIs

  • The term 'Grooming' was actually specifically removed from Scrum due to a political correctness issue.
    – Sarov
    Commented May 19, 2021 at 15:39
  • @Sarov, thanks. I wondered why I didn't see the word other places and thought it sounded odd. Rubin should probably put out a revised edition. Though, I should note that PMI still uses the term as well.
    – Red Anne
    Commented May 19, 2021 at 18:51

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