A complete product, ready for the market, is a culmination of individual steps where product development team members play different roles. For each team member to know which deliverables to prioritize, the project manager should create a to-do list in collaboration with the scrum team. This to-do list, which is informed by the strategic roadmap, constitutes the product backlog.
Without the product backlog, it would not be easy for software development teams to have a coherent idea of the processes they should be prioritizing. However, if the product backlog is to help all stakeholders to read from the same page, information should be available in a central repository. This is where product backlog tools play a crucial role.
In this article, we are concerned with answering an important question for product development teams: What is the best product backlog tool for backlog management? When we list tools in the way we have done here, it’s easy to read this to mean that there is a specific project management tool that’s best for all agile teams. However, this is not the case as different teams have different workflows and work items.
In listing the product backlog management software below, we aim to highlight the features and functionalities of a good tool. Determining the best project management software depends on the product owner’s needs and the task management needs of the product development team.
The Best Product Backlog Tools
Here’s a shortlist of the best product backlog management tools:
What do I look for when I select the best tools for product backlog? Here’s a summary of my evaluation criteria:
User Interface (UI): Product backlogs can get overwhelming, so I am looking for a backlog management tool with a simple, straightforward interface that makes it obvious what backlog items are high priority and low priority. Different product planning interface options, like Gantt charts and Kanban boards, are a must.
Usability: Is it easy to learn and master? Does the company offer good tech support, user support, tutorials, and training? For software development teams, the product backlog solution should not just be easy to use; it should also be flexible and allow for the agile methodology.
Integrations: Is it easy to connect with other tools? Any pre-built integrations that facilitate team collaboration? How well does the tool application programming interface (API) support connecting with other tools like Excel, Trello, Google Drive, GitHub, and Slack to deliver valuable metrics in real time?
Value for $: How appropriate is the price for the features, capabilities, and use case? Is pricing clear, transparent, and flexible?
Product Backlog Software Key Considerations
When we look at key features required by a product backlog tool, we determine whether the tool can be called a DEEP agile project management tool. I will provide more details about the DEEP acronym below.
Detailed appropriately: Project backlog items have varying importance and take different places in the list accordingly. For example, the backlog software needs to allow for sprint planning where subtasks with closer due dates in the sprint run have more details, while those items whose deadlines are still far off don’t need to be prioritized and can move forward at a normal pace.
Estimated: A good product backlog tool should provide burndown charts and other tools that provide the product development team with the ability to visualize project progress, dependencies, due dates, labor, and the time required to accomplish the remaining tasks. Thus, the pivotal tracker is a must for a good product backlog tool.
Emergent: Within an agile environment, things are always in a state of change, implying that the scrum board will also need to change with changing circumstances. This is why a good product backlog software should provide an emergent scrum tool that facilitates an agile framework.
Prioritized: An effective scrum project management tool ensures that the items are prioritized on the task board based on how close they are to delivery. The subtasks prioritized are those that the product owner has given the go-ahead to implement. User stories and daily scrum or sprint retrospective feedback are also essential elements for determining the tasks that need to be higher in the task board.
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An Overview of the 10 Best Product Backlog Tools
Here’s a brief description of the best tools for the product backlog, showcasing what each tool does best with screenshots to highlight some of the top features.
1. Hygger — Best for prioritizing customer feedback
The developers of Hygger indicate that they aimed to create a Kanban product backlog tool that is lean and clean. In reality, this means that the tool highlights the most important tasks and any limits on progress. The tool uses the work-in-progress (WIP) feature to keep teams’ focused on current tasks. Users can estimate tasks using story points or hours, making it possible to create reports on team performance.
Hygger costs between $7 and $14 per user per month for the Standard and Enterprise plans, respectively. Users can select the free plan, which they can use indefinitely.
Microsoft Planner is the tool for big and small teams that don’t have much experience using product backlog tools. The main advantage of this tool is that it is part of Microsoft 365, ensuring connection to Power Automate, SharePoint, and To-Do, delivering efficient task management. The tool also automatically visualizes task prioritization and statuses. In addition, Planner creates reports that provide team members with the status of specific tasks.
Microsoft Planner has packages for Business (ranging between $5 and $20 per user per month) and Enterprise (ranging between $8 and $60 per user per month). The company offers a month’s free trial for all products.
3. Planigle — Best for open-source product backlog tool
Planigle is the software designed for scrum teams looking for a tool that prioritizes customer relationship management (CRM). The tool’s developers provide the training and consultation required to get the product development team to speed. This ensures that the team gets working on the important tasks without spending too much time in training.
Planigle is an open-source tool available for free. However, teams looking for more features can purchase the premium package for $30 per user per quarter.
Yodiz provides a full suite for the scrum master and teams with all the features you need from an excellent product backlog software. It helps teams manage planning, collaboration, requirements, delivery tracking, customer support, and analytics. In addition, it delivers insights that provide teams with the understanding that allows them to forecast and make decisions about product development.
Yodiz costs from $0 to $5 per month per user. The designers of the software also offer a self-hosted service. You need to contact the company to get an idea of what this service costs.
5. Backlog — Best for teams that depend on high levels of collaboration
A project management tool is only great if it streamlines processes and makes it easy for stakeholders to collaborate. This is a feature that Backlog is strong at as it brings together developers, clients, designers, and other team members on an online platform. This means that all the people involved with the project have one source of reference.
Backlog costs between $0 and $175 per user per month. The Enterprise Plan costs $1,200 for up to 20 users and has a 30-day free trial.
If a product backlog tool promises to streamline processes and make teams’ work more manageable, it has to live up to those promises right from the beginning. One of the best primary features of Monday.com is that it gets teams working within minutes of starting because it’s easy to set up. It also comes with other great features expected from good product backlog tools such as data visualization, automation, and integration with existing tools.
Monday.com costs between $8 and $16/user/month. It also offers a free plan accommodating up to 2 seats. If your organization requires enterprise-grade features, you will need to contact the company.
7. Teamwork — Best for teams that need a tool that’s simple to use
Every product development team using the scrum methodology needs a product backlog tool that’s easy to use, whether the user is technically inclined or not. This is something that the developers of this tool seem to be aware of. They created a tool that allows team members to create projects and tasks, upload files, and add comments easily. While this software has advanced features for managing complex projects, it allows for flexibility that makes it possible for teams to customize their workflows.
Teamwork pricing ranges between $10 and $18 per user per month. Individuals in small teams can take advantage of the Free Forever package. Enterprise clients need to approach the company for a tailor-made package.
8. Clubhouse — Best for connecting user stories to roadmaps
The designers of Clubhouse have created a tool based on the appreciation that achieving success in creating and shipping a finished product requires a team to balance many parts of the project in different workspaces. This has resulted in a tool that allows teams to plan, create, collaborate, measure, and experiment. The tool also integrates with other tools like Slack and GitHub.
Clubhouse’s Standard package costs $8 per user per month. Enterprise clients can contact the company’s sales team to get a custom package. Small teams can use the tool for free forever.
Product development teams often have to work with ready-made templates, which forces them to adapt their processes to the program. This is a challenge that the developers of YouTrack attempt to solve with a tool that can be fully customized. They offer a tool that adapts to your processes. The software is designed to assist teams in planning sprints and releases, tracking tasks and projects, using agile boards, creating a knowledge base, and generating reports.
YouTrack costs $3.67 per user per month. This rate decreases as you add more team members. It offers a free subscription for life to teams with one to ten members.
10. Productboard — Best for customer-centric product backlog management tool
The success of a product is measured by its ability to meet the needs of the customer. Therefore, a product backlog tool needs to emphasize the customer needs and prioritize them. This is what Productboard endeavors to do. The product is built on an open platform, which makes it flexible and comprehensive. It also comes with all the features needed by a product development team: integrations, insights, prioritization, and roadmaps.
Productboard costs between $20 and $100 per maker per month. Enterprise clients can request a custom package. Teams can try the tool for free on a 15-day trial.
The product backlog is a central and ordered list of tasks that a scrum team is working on. In this list, you will find all the elements related to delivering a product that meets the customer’s and product owner’s requirements. These include alterations to existing features, new features, changes in infrastructure, and bug fixes.
Even though they are often confused, a product backlog is different from a sprint backlog. The former denotes the goals for the entire development of the product, while the latter focuses on the subtasks to be completed in a particular sprint run.
How to maintain product backlog?
Anyone who wants to learn how to manage a product backlog needs to start by realizing the importance of selecting a professional software package that’s easy to use. After all, you are looking for product backlog tools to reduce the effort required to keep product development moving efficiently. Therefore, maintaining a product backlog starts with selecting a tool that automates processes.
In Addition to getting the product backlog tool that does most of the work for you, you also need to start with an appropriate product vision, collaborate with other team members constantly, and arrange grooming meetings to maintain the product backlog.
What is product backlog refinement?
Usually, the top priority tasks on a product backlog are those whose deadlines are closer. These tasks have more details than the tasks lower down on the priority list. As the tasks at the bottom come closer to their due dates, more details are added to these tasks. This process is known as product backlog refinement. Even the items higher up the list can also be revised anytime when circumstances change during the product life cycle.
Who does product backlog refinement?
The scrum team takes responsibility for product backlog refinement under the leadership of the product owner. At the scrum meeting, the product owner indicates the product backlog items that require refinement. The team discusses the items, and the product backlog is refined accordingly.
What Do You Think About These Tools for Product Backlog?
Has your team ever used any of the product backlog tools we present in this article? If so, what is your impression of the tools? Do you believe that they improved your processes? Please feel free to share your views in the comments section. For more articles like this one, subscribe to The Product Manager newsletter.