Backlog Management

What Is the Difference Between Product Backlog Grooming and Sprint Planning?

What Is the Difference Between Product Backlog Grooming and Sprint Planning?

Effective team collaboration in sprint planning is the obligatory condition of a qualitative result. It makes the team move in the same direction. However, sometimes sprint planning is often confused with backlog grooming or refinement.

What’s the difference?


What is Backlog Grooming?

Grooming (or refinement) is a meeting of the Scrum team in which the product backlog items are discussed and the next sprint planning is prepared.

Product grooming is critical in product management because it means keeping the backlog up to date and getting backlog items ready for upcoming sprints.

Backlog grooming is often named pre-planning. Product owner and team representatives arrange it in the mid-sprint time. In this case, planning and refinement meetings alternate but happen on the same day each week. That provides an effective rhythm for the entire team.

The grooming involves splitting big items into smaller ones, rewriting backlog items to be more expressive, deleting obsolete or no more need items, and so on.

Product owners should always keep the backlog tidy. Regular involving of team members is optional.

It is not a formal ceremony of the Scrum process. 

Product owners identify user stories based on priorities for the next sprint planning. Groomed Scrum backlog helps to streamline sprint planning meetings to avoid stretching them for hours.


Key advantages of product backlog refinement:

  • Removing uncertainty and unknown facts of user stories increase product efficiency.
  • It assists to avoid rework in development and testing.
  • Backlog grooming identifies the dependencies within the team and helps to foresee risks.
  • Permanent grooming meetings save time for the development team for further discussion during sprint cycle because they give a clarity to developers and testers about the requirements.
  • Successful grooming leads to the effective sprint planning.
  • The grooming process gives product owners, managers or business analysts more chances to enhance the requirements with more information if it’s required.

Sprint planning vs backlog grooming


What is Sprint Planning?

The main idea of sprint planning is to agree on the goal for the current sprint and sprint backlog.

It’s not only about communicating requirements but about learning, defining options and making decisions together as a team.

During this meeting, the product owner and the team discuss which stories the team will do in that sprint. It can last from two to four hours. This may include refinement sessions as well. Sometimes teams cut this time down to one hour per week but this also looks appropriate. The meeting should be attended by the whole team. If additional expertise on specific backlog items are required, then stakeholders can be also invited.

During the sprint planning meeting, the product owner describes the highest priority features to the entire team.

Sprint planning includes agreeing on the number of backlog items in the sprint that is the responsibility of the development team.

product management

The product backlog is the input for a sprint planning. Product owners and product managers care about the effectiveness of the meeting, that’s why the most important items that should be tackled next (the very top of the backlog) should be well groomed ahead of time.

If you want to get more about the refinement process, dive into our articles:

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  • Alan Larimer

    All visitors to this blog should read The Scrum Guide ( ) by the creators and maintainers of the framework. “Product Backlog refinement is the act of adding detail, estimates, and order to items in the Product Backlog. This is an ongoing process in which the Product Owner and the Development Team collaborate on the details of Product Backlog items. During Product Backlog refinement, items are reviewed and revised. The Scrum Team decides how and when refinement is done. Refinement usually consumes no more than 10% of the capacity of the Development Team. However, Product Backlog items can be updated at any time by the Product Owner or at the Product Owner’s discretion.”


    “it’s recommended for the product owner and team representatives to dedicate up to 15% of every sprint to this activity.” Incorrect. Blatantly incorrect.

    “Removing uncertainty and unknown facts of user stories increase product efficiency.” And a few others are classic anti-patterns of attempting to define everything up front.

    “The main idea of sprint planning is to agree on the goal for the next sprint and sprint backlog.” No; Sprint Planning set the Sprint Goal for the CURRENT Sprint, not the next.

    “Sprint planning includes … Prioritizing backlog items” They should already be ordered.

    “Product owners and product managers care about the effectiveness of the meeting.” So does the Development Team.

  • Gustavo Rodrigues

    Excelente explanation, thanks!