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5 tips to organize your team backlog

Are you proud of your team's backlog of 100+ tickets? Better rethink your approach!

Many product managers, especially the ones that are starting their careers might get confused about how to organize their team’s backlog.

There are surely more important things than organizing and managing the team’s backlog, it is surely just a small part of the Product Manager's work. But not finding time to organize it, will eventually create frustration and confusion in the day-to-day work.

I created a couple of tips that helped me make things clean and concise throughout my career. As Jira is usually the most used tool, you might find the naming convention of this article similar to it.

Issue Types

Stop — Creating issue types for every single type of work that you have, such as Support and Tech task.

Start — Having the least amount of issue types possible. Recommendation:

  • Epic: For your milestones and initiatives breakdown

  • Story: For the user stories that are related to your Epic or changes that affect customers directly

  • Task: For general work, support, discoveries, technical debt, and so on

  • Bug: For issues in the software.

Clean Up, Clean Up and Clean Up

Stop — Being proud of the huge amount of tickets in your backlog and the work that could be done.

Start — Keeping your backlog clean, with only the most important work that needs to be done. Recommendations:

  • A MAXIMUM of 2–3 months of potential work on your backlog

  • Whenever there is a ticket not updated for more than 60 days, kill it. If it is important, it will come back.

Create context

Stop — Creating tickets and Epics with only a blurry title that no one can understand.

Start — Align with the whole Product Team on how tickets should be created. Recommendations:

  • Whenever there is a ticket without at least an initial description, kill it

  • Use a simple way of writing stories, such as: ‘As a… I want to… So…’

  • Have Acceptance Criteria (when it makes sense)

  • Do refinement sessions to add details, review, and deep dive into each ticket

  • All team members ideally know all tickets in the backlog.


Stop —Having stories with no connection.

Start — Connecting stories to Epics. The connection should be clear. Recommendations:

  • Use Epics as milestones or smaller chunks of your initiatives.

  • Epics are supposed to have an end. Do not use it as a placeholder for your tickets, such as ‘Tech Improvements’ or ‘Support Request’.

  • Don’t simply start creating Epics. Remember to have sessions to discuss and align the strategy around the Product Team, including the Initiatives and Epics.


Stop — Creating tickets in the backlog without any sense of priority.

Start — Organizing your backlog as a prioritized list. Recommendations:

  • Whenever you create a new ticket, define its overall priority compared to all other tickets. This will help the team to already understand what might be coming next and make refinements easier.

Hope these tips will support your day-to-day work or at least help you review how you deal with your backlog. Would you have any additional tips for organizing backlogs? I created this infographic as a Summary of this article.

In the next article, I want to write about tips on how to organize a good Sprint Planning and Sprint Backlog.


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