Who Creates the Product Backlog & Here’s Why They’re Important

Who creates the product backlog
Who creates the product backlog

Table of Contents

Have you ever wondered who creates the product backlog, and how to manage it? You’re not alone; it’s a question that puzzles many in the Agile world.

Understanding who creates and manages the product backlog is more than just a trivial curiosity. It’s a crucial element that can make or break your project’s success. A well-managed backlog can be the difference between a product that thrives and one that fails

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll unravel the mystery behind the creation of the product backlog. We’ll delve into its components, the roles involved, and why it’s a pivotal part of Agile project management. You’ll learn not just who creates it, but also how to manage it effectively for optimum results.

What is the Product Backlog?

The product backlog is a dynamic, ordered list that serves as the cornerstone of any Agile project. It’s essentially the single source of truth that outlines everything that is known to be needed in a product. This includes features, enhancements, bug fixes, and technical tasks that the development team may work on.

In Agile frameworks like Scrum, the backlog is far from a static document; it’s a living, evolving guide that informs the development process. It is continually updated and prioritized to ensure that the team is always working on the most valuable tasks that align with the product’s goals and the stakeholders’ needs.

What Does the Product Backlog Contain?

A backlog is a comprehensive inventory that goes beyond just listing features or tasks. It contains various types of items, often referred to as “backlog items,” which can include user stories, use cases, bugs, technical tasks, and even epics for larger projects.

Each item in the backlog is prioritized based on its value to the end-user, the business, or the project as a whole. This prioritization is crucial as it guides the development team in selecting what to work on during each sprint.

Additionally, each backlog item is often accompanied by acceptance criteria, which serve as a set of conditions that the item must meet to be considered ‘done.’ 

In essence, the product backlog is a multi-dimensional tool that encapsulates the scope, requirements, and the roadmap for the project, all in one place.

Visual of a product backlog

Who Creates the Product Backlog?

The responsibility for producing the backlog often falls on the shoulders of the Product Owner, a role defined in Agile frameworks like Scrum. The Product Owner is tasked with understanding the business requirements, the needs of the end-users, and the strategic goals of the project.

However, it’s important to note that the creation of the product backlog is usually a collaborative effort.

While the Product Owner may take the lead, input is often sought from other key stakeholders, such as the development team, Scrum Master, business analysts, and even customers. This collaborative approach ensures that the backlog is comprehensive, aligned with the project’s objectives, and reflective of the needs of all parties involved. In some cases, especially in larger organizations, multiple Product Owners may work together to produce a unified backlog for complex projects.

Product Backlog Vs Sprint Backlog?

When it comes to the creation of the product backlog and the Sprint Backlog, different roles within the Scrum framework come into play. As mentioned earlier, the Product Owner is primarily responsible for creating and maintaining the backlog. They work closely with stakeholders and the development team to ensure that the backlog is aligned with the product’s goals and objectives.

Sprint Backlog

On the other hand, the sprint backlog is crafted by the development team during the Sprint Planning meeting. This backlog is essentially a subset of the product backlog, containing tasks that the team commits to completing during the upcoming Sprint. While the Product Owner provides the prioritized items from the product backlog, it’s the development team that decides how much work they can realistically accomplish in the Sprint and creates the Sprint Backlog accordingly.

The Product Owner takes the lead in creating the backlog for products, while the development team is responsible for the Sprint Backlog. Both backlogs are essential tools that work in tandem to guide the team through the Agile development process.

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Where To Start

Creating a backlog is a multi-step process that begins with defining the product’s vision and goals. The Product Owner initiates the process by gathering requirements from various stakeholders, including business leaders, end-users, and the development team. 

These requirements are then translated into backlog items, which can take the form of user stories, use cases, or even technical tasks. Once the initial set of items is listed, the next crucial step is prioritization. The Product Owner, often in consultation with the stakeholders, prioritizes the items based on their value to the business, the users, and the project timeline.

Living Document

But the creation of a product backlog is not a one-time event; it’s an ongoing activity. As the product evolves, new items will be added, existing ones may be modified, and some might be removed altogether. This dynamic nature of the backlog is maintained through regular backlog grooming sessions, where the Product Owner and the development team review and adjust the backlog to ensure it aligns with the current project needs and objectives.

Various tools and software can assist in creating and managing a backlog, ranging from simple spreadsheets to specialized Agile project management platforms.

Regardless of the tools used, the key to a successful product backlog lies in its ability to be clear, organized, and aligned with the project's goals.

Who Owns The Backlog?

Ownership of the product backlog is a critical aspect that often determines the success or failure of an Agile project. In most Agile frameworks, particularly Scrum, the Product Owner is the individual who owns the backlog. They are responsible for its creation, maintenance, and prioritization. The Product Owner serves as the liaison between the business stakeholders and the development team, ensuring that the backlog aligns with the business objectives and user needs.


However, it’s important to note that while the Product Owner may own the backlog, its successful management is a collaborative effort. The development team, Scrum Master, and other stakeholders often contribute to the backlog by providing insights, technical expertise, and feedback. This collaborative approach ensures that the backlog remains a dynamic and comprehensive tool that guides the team toward achieving the project’s goals.

Ownership comes with the responsibility of ensuring that the backlog is transparent, visible, and understood by all members of the Agile team. This is crucial for effective planning and execution of sprints, and ultimately, for the successful delivery of the product.

How Do You Manage The Backlog?

Managing the product backlog is an ongoing process that requires attention, collaboration, and strategic thinking. One of the key activities in backlog management is “backlog grooming” or “backlog refinement.”

This involves regular meetings where the Product Owner, along with the development team and sometimes other stakeholders, reviews the backlog to add new items, remove irrelevant ones, and reprioritize existing items. During these sessions, items may be broken down into smaller, more manageable tasks, and acceptance criteria may be clarified.

Effective backlog management also involves tracking the progress of items as they move through the development cycle. Tools like burndown charts or Kanban boards can be incredibly helpful in visualizing the state of the backlog and the work in progress.


Communication is another crucial element in backlog management. The Product Owner must ensure that the backlog is transparent and accessible to all team members. This ensures that everyone has a clear understanding of what needs to be done and why, which in turn fosters a sense of ownership and accountability among the team members.

Be Adaptable

Lastly, it’s important to be adaptable. The needs of the business and the users can change, and the backlog must be flexible enough to accommodate these changes. This adaptability is what allows Agile teams to respond effectively to the ever-changing demands of the software development landscape.

What is the Difference Between a Product Backlog and Product Roadmap?

While both the product backlog and the Product Roadmap are essential tools in Agile project management, they serve different purposes and are used at different stages of the product lifecycle. It is a tactical tool that guides the day-to-day activities of the development team and is frequently updated to reflect the current needs of the project.

Product Roadmap

In contrast, the Product Roadmap is a strategic document that provides a high-level overview of the product’s direction over a longer time frame. It outlines the major milestones, features, and objectives that the team aims to achieve, often spanning months or even years. Unlike the product backlog, the roadmap is less likely to change frequently and serves as a guide for long-term planning.

What & How

The product backlog helps answer the “what” and “how” questions—what tasks need to be done and how they should be prioritized—while the Product Roadmap addresses the “why” and “when”—why certain features or milestones are important and when they are expected to be achieved.

Both tools are complementary and should be used in tandem for effective product management. While the product backlog provides the granular details needed for sprint planning and execution, the Product Roadmap offers the broader context that helps align the team’s efforts with the organization’s strategic goals.


Understanding who creates and manages the backlog is not just a matter of curiosity; it’s a critical factor that can significantly impact the success of your Agile project. From its creation to its ongoing management, the product backlog is a collaborative effort that involves various roles within the Agile team. It serves as both a tactical and strategic tool, guiding the team’s day-to-day activities while aligning with the broader objectives outlined in the Product Roadmap.

By gaining a comprehensive understanding of these essential Agile tools, you’re setting the stage for more effective project management and ultimately, a more successful product.

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Coach Nelson Ingle

Written by

Nelson Ingle | Founder of Simply Agile

Coach Nelson has 10+ years of experience leading software development teams. As a lifelong learner, he’s passionate about helping community members discover and pursue their ikigai every day.

Who can create product backlog items?

In Scrum, the Product Owner is primarily responsible for creating product backlog items. However, team members, stakeholders, and even customers can suggest items. It’s the Product Owner’s role to evaluate these suggestions and decide what gets added to the product backlog.

Who develops the product backlog in scrum?

The Product Owner is responsible for developing and maintaining the product backlog in Scrum. They gather requirements, feedback, and insights from stakeholders, customers, and the development team to create a prioritized list of features, user stories, and technical tasks.

Who creates and prioritizes a product backlog?

The Product Owner creates and prioritizes the product backlog. Prioritization often takes into account factors like business value, customer needs, and technical constraints. While others can contribute ideas or requirements, the Product Owner has the final say in what gets included and in what order.

Where is product backlog created?

The product backlog is typically created in a digital format using project management or Agile software tools, although it can also exist as a physical board. The location isn’t as important as ensuring it’s accessible and transparent to all team members and stakeholders involved in the project.

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