Backlog Assessment Method - BAM

Open access: BAM - Backlog Assessment Method. In Agile Processes in Software Engineering and Extreme Programming (XP) 2019

How do agile teams know if the backlog is good enough and well managed, or if the content of the backlog is appropriate and aligned in relation to the competences working with it and the decision process utilized? With great variation of backlog items in the backlog, there is a challenge to align the decision process (people and method for decisions) to be able to handle the varying contents of the backlog. Often items are deferred or delayed as detail is low or abstraction too high, and/or decisions are made based on assumptions as a way to fill the gaps of incomplete information. Therefore, to enable agile organizations to assess backlogs, and assure that the backlog items are good-enough for their needs, and well aligned with the decision process, we developed and evaluated the Backlog Assessment Method (BAM).

BAM was designed to be light-weight, simple to apply, as well as adaptable to the organizations needs and preference - consistent with a method to be used during a retrospective phase for example.

BAM offers a visual analysis and grading of backlog items. The visualization serves as a focal point for the stakeholders to collectively discuss if the backlog items have appropriate detail, size, maturity, and most importantly, if the decision-making process within the development organization can handle the variation of the items in the backlog.

BAM has the benefit of using concrete artifacts (actual backlog items) as a base for the assessment, rating items on a scale based on four main perspectives: Scope, Abstraction/Level, Maturity, and Detail. The decision of which backlog to assess, selection of a representative sample of items from the backlog, team members to involve - as well as the details of the actual assessment are detailed in the figure below.
For more detailed infomration about BAM, how to apply BAM in practice, see BAM - Backlog Assessment Method. In Agile Processes in Software Engineering and Extreme Programming (XP) 2019