Release Backlog vs. Sprint Backlog

Ruth Hadari
Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert
Posted on
Aug 19, 2022
Updated on
Mar 16, 2023
Table of Content

A Scrum backlog is a list of tasks that must be completed to achieve a goal. This list is typically divided into three categories: Sprint backlog, product backlog, and release backlog. These lists help prioritize which tasks must be completed first and ensure that all tasks are eventually completed. 

Scrum backlogs can be used in any project, but they are particularly beneficial for Agile projects, where changes can happen quickly and unexpectedly. By utilizing a scrum backlog, teams can ensure that they always progress towards their goal, no matter the changes.

A Sprint backlog and release backlog are essential tools in the Scrum backlog that help keep track of work during a Sprint and release. The release backlog is a list of tasks that must be finished before the program can be launched, whereas the Sprint backlog is a list of tasks that must be completed during the current Sprint. 

Using these tools ensures that your team stays on track and avoids any last-minute surprises. In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at these tools and how they can be used effectively. Read on if you're in the market for a way to streamline your development process!

What is the Sprint Backlog?

The Sprint backlog is a term used in Scrum, an Agile framework to describe a list of tasks that must be completed during the Sprint. The Sprint backlog is manned by the development team and refined throughout the Sprint. The sprint backlog is dynamic and will change as the Sprint progresses.

The development team uses the Sprint backlog to plan their work for the Sprint. They will use it to decide what tasks they need to complete and in what order they need to do them. The Scrum Master also uses the Sprint backlog to help the development team stay on track. 

The Scrum Master helps the team identify whatever impediments are blocking them from completing their tasks. The Sprint backlog is a living document that should be updated regularly, as new information reflects those changes.

Role of the Sprint Backlog

The Sprint backlog is a detailed list of tasks that need to be completed during the Sprint. It is typically maintained by the Sprint team and can be used to track progress and identify issues.

A Sprint backlog is an essential tool for Sprint planning, as it can help to determine which tasks are most important and ensure they are completed during the Sprint. 

In addition, the Sprint backlog can also help identify any risks or dependencies that may impact the Sprint. By keeping track of the Sprint backlog, teams can ensure they are on track to deliver a successful Sprint.

How to Use a Sprint Backlog

First, identify the goal of your Sprint. What do you hope to accomplish in the next few weeks? This will help you prioritize which tasks should go into your Sprint backlog. Next, break down your goal into smaller, more manageable tasks. These are the items that you will eventually add to your Sprint backlog.

Once a task has been completed, it should be marked off in the Sprint backlog. This will help you track your progress and ensure that you always make headway. 

Finally, don't forget to review your Sprint backlog periodically. This will help point out the areas that need improvement or any tasks that should be added or removed. Following these simple steps, you can use your Sprint backlog to stay on track and ensure your project is always moving forward.

What is the Release Backlog?

The release backlog is a prioritized list of features that a development team plans to implement in a future release. The release backlog is typically maintained by the Product Owner, who ensures that each release's most essential features are included.

While the Product Owner is responsible for maintaining the release backlog, the development team also decides which features should be included in each release. During Sprint planning sessions, the team will review the release backlog and identify which features can be completed within the Sprint. 

This ensures that each Sprint contains a mix of items from the product backlog and release backlog, allowing the team to deliver value to stakeholders regularly. After the Scrum team has determined the Sprint goal, the developers will analyze the features on the current product backlog with the highest priority and move them to the release backlog.

The features are then moved from the release backlog to the Sprint backlog, where developers will establish specific tasks to be accomplished for each feature. The developers will list each item needed to complete each assignment simultaneously. The features and tasks that the conclusion of a specific Sprint must complete will be listed in the Sprint backlog.

The release backlog is an essential part of Agile development, as it helps to ensure that new features are regularly delivered to stakeholders. Development teams can periodically review and update the release backlog to ensure that their products constantly evolve and meet stakeholder needs.

Role of the Release Backlog

The role of the release backlog is to contain all of the work for a release. The Product Owner prioritizes this backlog and decides what makes it into the release and what does not. The development team then uses this backlog to estimate and plan their work for the release. A release backlog is a crucial tool for managing Agile projects. 

Release backlogs help ensure that development teams are always aware of the work that needs to be done. This helps to prevent scope creep and ensures that project deadlines are met. In addition, release backlogs help teams estimate their workloads accurately, improving project planning and execution. 

Overall, the release backlog is an essential tool for managing Agile projects. By using a release backlog, teams can improve their project planning and execution, ensuring that projects are completed on time and within budget.

How to Use a Release Backlog

A release backlog is a type of product backlog that includes items scheduled for release in a future Sprint or iteration. The release backlog is used to track and manage the tasks that need to be completed to release a new product version. 

A release backlog can be used to track progress towards a release, and it can also be used to plan future releases. The release backlog should include all the tasks that need to be completed to release a new product version, including technical and user-facing tasks. 

The Product Owner or Scrum Master typically maintains the release backlog. To add an item to the release backlog, simply enter the item into the backlog tracking tool of your choice. For example, if you're using Jira, you can create a new issue and add it to the release backlog. 

Once an item is added to the release backlog, it should be assigned to a specific Sprint or iteration. Items in the release backlog should never be assigned to more than one Sprint or iteration at a time. This will help to prevent fend-off creep and keep the product development process on track. 

The release backlog is an essential part of Agile product development and should be used by every team abiding by the Agile methodology. A release backlog will help your team stay organized and focused and ultimately help you deliver better products to your customers.

Final Thoughts

Scrum backlogs can be used for any work, but they are particularly well-suited for software development. This is because software projects are often complex, involving many interrelated tasks. By keeping all of these tasks in one place, Scrum backlogs help developers to stay organized and on track.

The release backlog helps to ensure that new features are regularly delivered to stakeholders, while the Sprint backlog helps developers estimate their workloads and plan their work for each Sprint. 

Both of these backlogs are essential tools for managing Agile projects. If you're not using them already, we recommend you start using them as soon as possible. They will help you to stay organized and on track and ultimately help you to deliver better products.

The best way to get started is by using a tool like GoRetro, which can help you manage your projects more effectively and keep everyone on track. With GoRetro, you can easily create and update your release and Sprint backlogs and track progress and deadlines. Sign up today to see how GoRetro can help you streamline your project management process!

About the author

Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert

Highly experienced in leading multi-organizational teams, groups, in-shore as well as off-shore. The go-to person who is able to simplify the complex. An agile advocate, experienced in all common methodologies. Responsible for the entire software development lifecycle process from development, QA, DevOps, Automation to delivery including overall planning, direction, coordination, execution, implementation, control and completion. Drives execution, and communicates on status, risks, metrics, risk-mitigation and processes across R&D.

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