Technique Summary: 10.1, 10.2, and Agile 7.1

By Grant Warden

Below is a summary of Techniques 10.1 and 10.2 are from BABOK® version 3 and Technique 7.1 is from the Agile Extension to the BABOK guide version 2.

Technique 10.1 - Acceptance and Evaluation Criteria

Purpose- Acceptance criteria are used to define the requirements, outcomes, or conditions that must be met in order for a solution to be considered acceptable to key stakeholders.
Description- Acceptance and evaluation criteria define measures of value attributes to be used for assessing and comparing solutions and alternative designs. Measurable and testable criteria allow for the objective and consistent assessment of solutions and designs.
Acceptance criteria describe the minimum set of requirements that must be met in order for a particular solution to be worth implementing.
Evaluation criteria define a set of measurements which allow for ranking of solutions and alternative designs according to their value for stakeholders. Both evaluation and acceptance criteria may be defined with the same value attributes.
Elements- Value Attributes are the characteristics of a solution that determine or substantially influence its value for stakeholders. They represent a meaningful and agreed-upon decomposition of the value proposition into its constituent parts, which can be described as qualities that the solution should either possess or avoid.
Assessment- In order to assess a solution against acceptance or evaluation criteria, it must be constructed in a measurable format.
Testability- Acceptance criteria are expressed in a testable form. This may require breaking requirements down into an atomic form so that test cases can be written to verify the solution against the criteria. Acceptance criteria are presented in the form of statements which can be verified as true or false.
Measures- Evaluation criteria provide a way to determine if features provide the value necessary to satisfy stakeholder needs. The criteria are presented as parameters that can be measured against a continuous or discrete scale.

Technique 10.2 - Backlog Management
Purpose- The backlog is used to record, track, and prioritize remaining work items.
Description- A backlog occurs when the volume of work items to be completed exceeds the capacity to complete them. In a managed backlog, the items at the top have the highest business value and the highest priority. These are normally the next items to be selected to be worked on.
Elements- Backlog items may be any kind of item which have work associated with it. Some examples include:
• use cases
• user stories
• functional requirements
• non-functional requirements
• designs
• defects
• change requests
An item is added to the backlog if it has value to a stakeholder. Items in the backlog are prioritized relative to each other. Over time, these priorities will change as stakeholders’ priorities change, or as dependencies between backlog items emerge.
Estimation- A minimal amount of work is done on each item while it is on the backlog; just enough to be able to understand the work involved to complete it.
Managing Changes to the Backlog - Items make their way to the top of the backlog based on their relative priority to other items in the backlog. When new or changed requirements are identified, they are added to the backlog and ordered relative to the other items already there. Whenever work capacity becomes available the backlog is reviewed and items are selected based on the available capacity, dependencies between items, current understanding of the size, and complexity.

Agile Technique 7.1 - Backlog Refinement
Purpose- Backlog Refinement is used to ensure there is enough detail and clarity for items in the backlog so that the delivery team can complete an iteration.
Description- Backlog Refinement is a continuous technique used to prepare product backlog items for an agile team to deliver. Backlog Refinement incorporates ongoing feedback and learning to revise and refine requirements of needs on an ongoing basis. Refining the backlog based on stakeholder feedback is a critical differentiator for agile initiatives. Business analysis practitioners collaborate with team members, stakeholders, and customers to clarify the need and identify additional detail. Refinement for an item is complete when there is sufficient information for the team to execute.
Elements
Backlog – An ordered list of features, requirements, or items needed to achieve the outcomes for the solution
Backlog Item – An item on the backlog which represents one or more requirements, commonly presented as a user story.
Refinement Meeting – The purpose of this meeting is for the team to review items that are at the top of the backlog. The outcome of this meeting is confirmation that the top items are ready for the next iteration and identify any further clarity needed.
Definition of Ready – This is a set of criteria the team agrees must be satisfied to consider an item "ready" for the next iteration.
Usage Considerations– Both strengths and limitations must be considered in Agile backlog planning. Here are some of each.

Strengths
Limitations
Increases clarity and common understanding of a product backlog item. Can be inefficient when not aligned to the cadence of the team.
Facilitates more effective iteration planning by raising queries early. Is usually done by a few members of the team and can inadvertently preclude the views of other team members.
Ensures product backlog items (PBIs) are sized appropriately for the team. Can be ineffective if the vision and roadmap change frequently.