Hello Community! I just completed a MVP for a new app to help teams collaboratively clean up their backlogs. I recently joined two existing teams with backlogs of 200-400 items each. These old huge backlogs led to wasted time and frustration, so I made this app as a new framework to maintain a healthy, relevant backlog. I'd love your feedback and to hear about your experiences if you try it out!
Note this app is not supported by CA and was created as a hackathon. If you'd like to try more of my Agile Central apps, check out my app posts and GitHub.
Is your backlog out of control? Do you add new stories to it, never to find them again amidst the hundreds of old crufty items? Or did you inherit a backlog and have no idea what's wheat and what's chaff? Now there's no need to despair, as this Keep or Sweep app will make wading through your backlog painless, collaborative, and even fun.
It's a good practice to keep your backlog under 100 items as the human brain has trouble keeping 100+ items in memory, and it's unlikely that you'll complete 100 items before they get out of date. So use this app whenever your backlog is getting large, or make it part of a quarterly event to keep your backlog fresh.
Rather than having one person, like the Product Owner, assess every item on the backlog, this app gets the whole team collaborating on what's good to keep or ready to sweep to the Recycle Bin. Harness the collective wisdom of your team to make the best decisions. First, create a shared custom page with this app and have each team member use it to review the backlog at their leisure over a couple days to a week. They'll be presented with each item on the backlog one at a time with brief details of the work item:
When they click the "Keep it!" or "Sweep it!" buttons, their vote will be recorded on the work item's discussion for later access. Here's an example comment:
In the app's settings you can specify options to limit which items are presented for votes and when votes expire.
Once your team has voted, it's time to process the votes. You can either do this solo, or as a team ceremony to quickly clean the backlog. In processing mode, each work item is presented again with a summary of the votes:
If everyone voted to sweep it, you can press "Sweep it!" to delete the item. If everyone voted to Keep it, you can press "Keep it!" to leave it and move on to the next item. If there's a mix of votes, have a conversation with your team to learn why there are differing opinions to come to a consensus. Repeat with each old work item to ultimately delete everything you can to simplify your backlog.
Hopefully your team finds this app useful! Any feedback and suggestions for enhancement are welcome. Happy backlog cleaning!
If you've never used a custom app in Agile Central, you're missing out! Check out Extend CA Agile Central With Apps | CA Agile Central Help for instructions. Specifically, you'll be using a Custom HTML app to copy my code into Agile Central Custom HTML | CA Agile Central Help. If you need any help while installing the app, just let me know!
My app can be found at https://raw.githubusercontent.com/wkammersell/keep-or-sweep/master/deploy/App-uncompressed.html
Try It Now - Keep or Sweep App
This sounds wonderful! We have many teams that inherit a team space that has a lot of junk in it, this will really help them stream-line the process on figuring out what to keep and what to get rid of, thank you so much!
Thanks for the kind words Sheri! I realized the installation instructions weren't on the post, which is now fixed. If you have any feedback or questions when you try it, please let me know.
I think you may have found a "FUN" way for the team to get through the piles of junk that build up over time on every team. The hard part in the past has been having dev put too much thought into it. We may have to create a user story to "Keep or Sweep the back log" and assign it as a task to rate at least 100 stories this week for the team. Creation date is a huge help when you see 2014 it should tell you all you need to know!
The good product owner adds user stories to the backlog, the GREAT product owner throws them away!
I like your quote on product ownership! If you want to have the voting experience be for ~100 stories at a time, you can use the app's setting to say "Ignore items created within the last X days". Set that value to something that gets you around 100 items, like 1,000 if your backlog is going all the way back to 2014.
There's certainly a lot more I could do with gamification of the experience to make it more fun, like having celebratory messages whenever a "Sweep" vote is given, and having a better completion screen. If you have suggestions or find ways to make it more fun while using it, please let me know!
Hi William, I work wirh Sheri and I too like the app. Would it be possible to have some sort of summary view to see what is left to review (including the skipped items) and the status prior to the final vote. After exiting and coming back into the app, I found it picked up the skipped items and all new un-reviewed items. Also, maybe a back button? Great idea, thanks for sharing
Hi David, thanks for the feedback! I'll take a look to see what I can add. The challenge with this app is the performance. Given that backlogs can be huge, with hundreds of items, loading the status of everything up front leads to a long wait time that I think will discourage team members from voting. Perhaps I can add a way to optionally generate the summary view.
Also, could you clarify what you mean by seeing "the status prior to the final vote"? I think I know what you mean, but I'm not 100% positive.
Hi DavidJPackman1351836, I added a back button while voting and processing work items. You'll see it if you reinstall the app from GitHub again - https://raw.githubusercontent.com/wkammersell/keep-or-sweep/master/deploy/App-uncompressed.html Hopefully it works well for you, and thanks for the idea to add it!
Hi William, fair enough, performance can always be a challenge and given some of the other comments if the backlog gets to be quite large, I get it. Ours wasn't too back 126 items back to 2014, better than half were from late 2017 which is good news (I guess). You know how us users can be, always asking for the impossible thinking we ABSOLUTELY must have it . I do appreciate that you even had the foresight to create this As for the "status prior to the final vote," if is most likely what you are thinking, a grid showing the results to date of the votes in case you need to prompt further action (for those slackers on the team, lol)
Hi William, love the back button, thank you for adding. As well as the added bonus of knowing what you decided on the ones already voted on as you go back back back.......:)