How do you ensure that the backlog remains up-to-date?

Ensuring Backlog Health: Mastering the Scrum Flow

I recently had an interesting question thrown my way, and it went like this, “How do you ensure that the backlog remains up-to-date?” It struck me just how crucial this topic is in the agile world and just how important keeping that backlog in shape is.

So, here are some points I’d like to raise in answering this question based on my experience and thoughts. 🚀

Whose Job Is It Anyway?

First and foremost, I want to point out that understanding this role is key. While this isn’t strictly the role of a Scrum Master, it is, in fact, more the domain of the Product Owner. 📌

However, as a Scrum Master, I’ve always believed, “You’re going to keep an eye on everything, aren’t you?

And being the curious souls we are, we Scrum Masters like our teams primed and ready for the next sprint, ensuring we’ve got a backlog that’s in a healthy state.

‘Backlog Health’ is Key

I’ve always been partial to what I term as ‘backlog health’ and most definitely like to check the pulse of a healthy backlog by asking questions like:

Do we have enough work prepped for the upcoming sprint(s)? We’re looking at avoiding that frenzied last-minute scramble during planning.

My rough gauge?

About two sprints of work are ready. If your team moves at 20 points, have roughly 40 points set.

But remember, it’s a flexible number based on your team’s dynamics. 🔑

Refinement: The Unsung Hero

Refinement came about from Muppets going into planning and being agile; yes, that person is me!

As a Scrum Master, a significant part of my role revolves around ensuring that refinement happens well.

The idea is to ensure that the team is well-prepped for upcoming sprints. 💡

Backlog refinement emerged from us learning that a bit of careful foresight and planning did wonders.

Looking Ahead

Sometimes, we need to scan further down that backlog. Whether you need a compliance nod or have questions that need deeper insights, the key is ensuring the team is always ready and primed. 🤔

In such cases, your backlog might be a tad extended. But always ensure that it’s organised in a manner where the team is equipped to build the right product.

Your Role as a Scrum Master

Our mission is clear.

Support the team. Ensure they’re ready. And always, always focus on building the right product at the right time. 🎯

We’re here so that everybody else can do a great job.

Wrapping Up & A Special Offer!

If you’ve gotten this far, thank you! If you’ve found this enlightening, let’s chat about it.

And if you want to plunge deeper into the Agile world, don’t forget to check out my Agile and Scrum courses. It’s designed to elevate your game in the world of Agile!

Do you have a burning question on Agile? Let’s keep the conversation going! 🔥

If you are interested in becoming an agile coach and value mentored, coach-driven skills development in your journey to mastery, visit our Growing Agile Coaches page.

If you are inspired by the idea of an online apprenticeship for a scrum master, visit

If you like the idea of becoming a scrum master and want to achieve internationally recognised and certified accreditation as a scrum master, visit our Certified Scrum Master (CSM) course page.

If you are already a scrum master and want to upskill to a more advanced level of knowledge and agile coaching capability, visit our Advanced Certified Scrum Master (A-CSM) course page.

If you have several years’ experience as a scrum master and want to validate and certify your professional skills, visit our Certified Scrum Professional Scrum Master (CSP-SM) course page.

For more information on John McFadyen, visit or connect with John on LinkedIn at

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John McFadyen Managing Partner
John McFadyen is an Executive and Enterprise Agile Coach with proven experience working on some of the UK and Europe’s largest, most complex Agile Transformations. As a Certified Scrum Trainer, John brings a wealth of experience as an Agile coach, Agile practitioner and software developer into each of the four core courses he provides. The war stories, the insights into successful Agile transformations and everything he has learned from coaching high-performance Agile teams combine to provide course delegates with a unique, compelling training experience that transforms as much as it empowers.

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