What Is a Product Backlog?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Having a product backlog empowers your team to prioritize work and set realistic expectations.

[Featured image] A product manager reviews a product backlog on a large computer monitor at a desk.

A product backlog is a to-do list that guides your team’s activities based on priority. It places the most critical tasks at the top of the list, enabling a top-down approach and seamless collaboration across all teams.

Product backlogs are set through roadmap processes, which align high-level goals to structure a strategic plan for the ultimate vision. Essentially, it’s the list of tasks necessary to meet the vision outlined in the roadmap. They’re often used by development teams in Agile and Scrum methodologies.

What does a product backlog include?

A product backlog includes various items that can be categorized as bug fixes, features, technical debts, knowledge acquisitions, or changes, each serving different purposes within the backlog:

  • Bug fixes: A software coding error that needs to be address quickly to prevent compromising the product. Bugs that interrupt the current workload may take priority over less damaging bugs.

  • Features: Parts of a product that are important to the user. These are essentially descriptions of user requirements, and can be classified as “epic” if they’re complex or “simple” for straightforward ones.

  • Technical debt: Similar to financial debt, technical debt worsens if left unaddressed. It refers to neglected work that’s repeatedly pushed down the product backlog instead of being solved promptly—this will require later visits and more effort and time.

  • Knowledge acquisition: Tasks that require gathering more information, which usually involves prototypes or experiments that require additional insight.

  • Changes: Any change requests from the clients to be addressed by the developing team.

Related terms

Next steps

Consider pursuing a professional certificate to gain a deeper understanding of the various project management processes. Coursera hosts a number of options, including the Google Project Management Professional Certificate, which helps you build a base in the fundamentals of project management, including understanding Agile and Scrum.

Keep reading

Updated on
Written by:

Editorial Team

Coursera’s editorial team is comprised of highly experienced professional editors, writers, and fact...

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.