Do you use meaningful PBI titles?

Last updated by Tom Bui [SSW] 7 months ago.See history

Product Backlog Items (PBIs) are the cornerstone of a well-oiled project. They track features, bugs, tasks, and much more. When a developer or Product Owner is looking through the backlog, it's important that - at a glance - they can read the titles of PBIs and have a decent understanding of them.

So what separates a good PBI title from a bad one?

Video: Do you use meaningful PBI titles? | Luke Cook | SSW Rules (5 min)

Note: Usually, we use the term PBI to encompass all types of backlog items, including those related to DevOps, Trello, GitHub, or any other platform.

How to create meaningful, yet efficient titles?

Without a meaningful title, you need to drill down into the details. If your backlog is substantial, it quickly becomes time-consuming and tedious to drill into each and every item to see what it's about. Even worse... next time you visit the backlog, chances are you won't remember the details and will have to re-read every PBI again!

Fix menu bug

Figure: Bad example โ€“ What bug? How important is this?

๐Ÿ”ฅ ๐Ÿ› BUG | Menu disappears on mobile devices

Figure: Good example - "Fire" emoji to bring attention to the PBI's importance, "Bug" emoji to indicate the PBI type, and a clear description of the issue

Don't

โŒ Be generic (e.g. "Fix bug in site")
โŒ Write a novel in the title
โŒ Ignore the importance of urgent PBIs

Do

โœ… Be specific (e.g. "{{Area}} | {{behaviour}}"). See our rule to order of instructions
โœ… Prefix the area/form
โœ… Identify its urgency (e.g. ๐Ÿ”ฅ)
โœ… Identify the bugs (e.g. "Bug" and/or ๐Ÿ›). Bugs are special case - they should have greater visibiliy
โœ… Use emojis. See our rule on emojis in Scrum

Good PBI titles examples

Using this structure: {{ EMOJI FOR PBI TYPE }} {{ BUSINESS AREA TOUCHED }} | {{ SHORT DESCRIPTION }}

Bugs:

๐Ÿ› Newsletter form | returns HTTP 500

Features:

โœจ Newsletter form | Validate email address

UI/Styling:

๐Ÿ’„ Header | Update site header with new logo

DevOps/Infra:

๐Ÿ‘ทโ€โ™‚๏ธ DevOps | Add ephemeral deployment slots for PRs

Urgent tasks:

๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ›๐Ÿ‘ทโ€โ™‚๏ธ SysAdmin | Northwind app inaccessible through company VPN


Other examples:

๐Ÿ› Invoices | Invoice totals are rounded incorrectly

โš’๏ธ Infrastructure | Implement staging deployment pipeline

โœจ Clients page | Add create/edit client fieldsย 

Great titles are also important on Pull Requests, and email subjects.

Emojis

Love them or hate them, emojis have become a staple in the development world. As the old saying goes... "a picture is worth a thousand words". You can use emojis (responsibly!) to categorize PBIs/Issues/PRs/Emails, as well as bring attention to important items in a way that is easily interpreted by other people.

Regardless of whether or not you choose to adopt the emoji language, you should always be mindful of the title's text.

Always ask yourself: "Can a developer (or Product Owner) interpret the task and its importance without needing to dive into the details?"

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