A remote prioritization of product backlog

During the COVID pandemic, the best way to help a customer in another state in the country to prioritize their backlog was to do this remotely. I had the opportunity to facilitate a series of workshops and the result is that it became much easier to define the releases of a product and to have an idea of its roadmap.

The customer needed general visibility into what was expected to be implemented and the development team needed more clarity on where the product was heading. This started with the setting up of an environment in Miro that would be used to have a picture of the current situation and define our next steps.

At first we’ve done a a review of all user stories wrote for the previous product owner and put each story in a Miro post-it and schedule a 4 hours workshop.

As a team we start the workshop defining what is the vision of the product for short, medium e long term.

Three post-its on the Miro board, one blue, one purple and one orange to define short, medium and long term goals

After that, keep an eye on this goals the team start to put the stories in a matrix, where product and business teal define y axis for priority and dev define x axis for complexity:

At last, we transport the post-its with the stories for the waves. according to rules:

  • Rule 1: A wave can contain a maximum of four cards.
  • Rule 2: A wave cannot contain more than one red card.
  • Rule 3: A wave can only contain three yellow cards if it has no red.
  • Rule 4: If a card depends on another card, that other card must be on some previous wave.
An image that explains the rules to prioritize user stories in waves
The rules of the waves
The waves board on Miro on green rectangles representing waves.
The waves board on Miro

With the waves fulfilled all the team had a vision for the sprints, what is the priority for the stories and we knew if and what are the stories need to be broken or need more details.

Every week we back to the waves and evaluate what is need to change and it maintain all team looking for the same perspective.

I wrote and publish about this process in the portuguese page of