On my project, I am constantly challenged with trying to combine and separate our product enhancement backlog from our defect backlog. Now, if you read this carefully, you will probably think, wait a minute, how can you combine and separate the backlogs? Exactly that is my conundrum!
In principle, I am of the opinion that it makes more sense that the two should be combined, so we can streamline the priorities, the sequence in which we should tackle defects over enhancements and so on. However since there are different teams of people that work on the different requirements and features it is difficult to get to one master list that everyone can work off, as it blurs the lines between responsibilities which can lead to some unnecessary confrontation.
And then there is the question of continuity. Just creating one big list at one point in time, so we have a complete view of what is on our plate, is definitely do-able, the problem starts when it needs to be maintained as such. Suddenly the list morphs into several independent lists, updated by different teams and prioritized without cross referencing other items, that is very difficult to keep track of and control.
In our project, particularly as we have to engage external vendors for some of the work we do, both to support our enhancement work and to help out with certain defects, having a disparate backlog causes a bunch of complications that make it difficult to communicate to the “outside world” with one product voice. What seems to happen is that various teams have parallel conversations that are not necessarily aligned internally, which is complicated and confusing – for everyone involved.
It’s a big challenge and one that I hope to find a good solution for – how do you stop your backlog from becoming a defect?!