Day 125 — Grooming the backlog
Getting organized to build our next set of features
Even though we launched, the product isn’t done — far from it. In fact, now is when the best ideas get generated. So I took a few hours today to “groom” our backlog:
Grooming the backlog is a fancy way to say organizing and prioritizing what we’re building so that we’re ultimately building the right thing.
Just like the way we deliver educational content through our app, everything we do is broken into bite-sized pieces of value.
Tool-wise, we use JIRA —and I highly recommend it. I’ve tried alternatives like Trello, Google Docs, Basecamp, and Asana, but I always seem to come back to JIRA. It’s just really simple to get going but really powerful once you scale up. Plus, the way it facilitates running sprints is perfect for our needs.
This process starts with Epics, basically feature groups that include bits of features and functionality.
Here’s how I broke down our epics:
- Manage Account & Support (Blue): Global feature sets that will overlap with any underlying functionality. This includes things like login and creating an account.
- Invincible Academy & Gamification & Internationalization (Yellow): These are feature sets specific to our education content, such as visualizing progress to users as they complete modules.
- Growth & Funding / Operations (Green): Mainly non-development epics around marketing and day-to-day functionality.
- Bugs (Red): Identified issues with the app. We collect these from internal testing, feedback reports from users, and Sentry reports. I like keeping them in their own epic because it helps to see them all in one place.
We also have a whole separate category of Epics dedicated to Data Security and Regulations, including HIPAA, GDPR, CCPA, FERPA, and COPPA.
Finally, we have a final set of epics dedicated to potentially good ideas we might want to eventually build.
Within each epic, we create “stories”, or those bite-sized pieces of functionality I mentioned earlier. The premise is that each one of these stories can be picked up and implemented independently of others. Of course, there is infrastructure work that isn’t quite so simple, but in general for new features we try to follow this approach.
Here’s an example of the current stories in the Gamification Epic:
Each one of these is then broken down further one more time, such as this one:
Each story includes a description, acceptance criteria, and any UI or associated files (for example, this one will include the audio file when we’re ready to build it).
The stories still need to be re-prioritized, which I’ll start doing over the next few days and weeks. This is an ongoing process of value delivery, so it’s never fully “done”.