How old is your backlog?

A common thing that happens as teams work together for a while is to leave the old items in the backlog unattended.

I coached a team that had more than 50% of their stories created more than a year ago. Stories, not Epics.
If stories have been in your backlog for that long, were they ever a priority?

Why is this important? I see 3 problems.

One of the Scrum values is courage. A team should have the courage to drop stories that no longer make sense. I say, team, not the development team. This shows that the team is not autonomous and cannot manage its own backlog.

Having an old backlog also breaks focus. If everything is there to be done, what should be done?
Imagine looking at your Backlog. Seeing an endless pool of tickets that never seem to get done – what is your first feeling?

The 3rd one is metrics. If you start tracking how long something will take. Let’s say for example with Lead Time, and apply that to your backlog. What do you think will happen?
In the team I mentioned before, the estimation was that it would take 3 yrs to clear the current backlog. The current one, no extra features.
How can you bring this news to your stakeholders?

If you want a healthy backlog, cleanup old stories. I can almost bet that you know, they will never get picked up anyways.



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