Backlog – an accumulation of something, especially uncompleted work or matters that need to be dealt with.
- For a software development team (“tech team”), fundamentally, there is always only One Backlog. It is, “The list of stuff the tech team could work on.” Whether this backlog is held in 1 or N systems is inconsequential to the rest of The Assertions.
- To be useful, the backlog must always be managed by someone regularly if:
- People need to understand what the tech team could work on in the future.
- People want input on what the tech team will work on in the future.
So, One System Backlog is when your One Backlog is maintained in one “system”. Call it the “master list”. Whether that be a SaSS product like Jira or RallyDev or a notebook someone keeps on a desk – one list to rule them all.
The the advantages to having One System Backlog for the tech team to draw work out of are:
- Clear visibility to all of the things the tech team could work on in one place, available to anyone.
- Easy to prioritize tasks that come from many stakeholders and through many “request channels” (a request channel is simply the means by which a request for work is communicated to anyone on the tech team).
- There is only one system of record for work to be done and it enables the relative prioritization of the work items (tasks).
- Many request channels can (and should) be used to populate the backlog and the management policies of those channels are decoupled from the tech team work processes.
The disadvantages of One System Backlog are the opposite of the advantages. To be clear:
- Obfuscated visibility to all of the things the tech team could work on.
- Difficult to prioritize tasks that come from many stakeholders and through many request channels.
- There is no system of record for work to be done. Secondary systems and ad-hoc “lists” must be created, administered (users access, etc.) and maintained to provide visibility to priorities.
- Many request channels can (and should) be used to populate the backlog and the management policies of those channels must be constrained by a consideration of the tech team processes.