The Limited Backlog - Addendum

In an earlier post I argued to limit the size of your product backlog. Some days ago, I met a co-worker who told me that some agile experts told him, that product backlogs always have to be limited in size. Superficially, this looks like the very same statement, I made in this former blog post. You might eventually be surprised to read, that I disagreed with the statement, my co-worker made.

Why? Because it is very important to understand why and when limiting the size of your backlog makes sense! The main argument for limiting the size is to avoid the maintenance costs of many backlog items. Especially, if there is a probability, that they will never be implemented at all or the items are deteriorating fastly (what a waste!).

Now comes the pitfall: If limiting the size of your backlog leads to emerging "backlogs" in other places (e.g. at your customer!) you might eventually even increase the overall costs of maintaining the items, if the maintenance costs at the other spots are even higher than they would be in your backlog. This is definitely not what you wanted to achieve in the first place, when you limited your own backlog.

So if you do indeed limit your backlog (which is still extremely valuable), watch out and have a careful look, if the discarded items do indeed vanish, or are only cultivated elsewhere.