Product Management 101: What is Backlog

A backlog is a prioritized list of everything – all features – that is known to be required to be in the product. It is a single source of requirements, including any changes to the product.

The backlog is a “living document.” It evolves as the product evolves. The backlog is never complete. It is constantly changing to identify what the product needs, whether to stay competitive, or to be more useful. A product backlog always exists as long as the product exists.

Pile of Covered Books

One important characteristic of what is added to a backlog is that any entry must add value. Indeed, it must have some degree of customer value. Otherwise, it will not be added to the backlog. All entries are prioritized. No low-level tasks are included.

The backlog needs consistent attention. The person who is responsible for the product backlog is the product owner. Product development teams use backlogs. Specifically, Scrum software development teams use backlogs to help clarify the product requirements and to get team-wide buy-in.

A startup founder relies on the backlog to keep track of what the product development team is prioritizing. It’s not an overstatement to say that it’s crucial to effectively managing product development.

Add “backlog” to your vocabulary as a startup founder because sooner or later you will be working with it, whether it be on a specific product, project, or initiative.