How We Manage Our Backlog at Shortcut
BlogHow Product & Engineering Work Together
How Product & Engineering Work Together

How We Manage Our Backlog at Shortcut

Erika Carter
Senior Creative Technical Writer
April 5, 2023

Getting your backlog in order can feel daunting. 

That is, until now. 

Because Shortcut now has a backlog feature

The Backlog in Shortcut lets you:

  • See un-planned/new/under-defined Stories separately from active work
  • Have confidence when work scheduled from the backlog is ready
  • Make it easy for everyone in your organization to locate where Backlog items are in Shortcut


Backlog Management Process

Here’s how we came up with our own process, and how we manage our own backlog at Shortcut.

1. We asked our R&D teams to submit proposals for a Backlog Management process.

2. We discussed the top concepts as a team.

These discussions took place over Zoom. We made hand-drawn sketches and mocks to think through and collaborate on ways it could work.

There was also a very large thread of conversation on Slack where we discussed async as a team about what a Backlog means to us. This thread got very long! Some takeaways were:

  • There are distinct differences between teams and engineers in how we think about workflow states like "Draft", "Ready for Refinement"(R4R) and "Ready for Dev"(R4D) in the context of a Backlog.  From some teams using "R4R" as an initial starting point for refinement/estimation meetings, to others completely ignoring its usage.
  • The idea of Workflows for different teams came up more than once, though it may be a logistical hassle. We thought one way out of analysis paralysis could be to make different Workflows for separate teams, for example, which uses the States they find useful, but leaves the Engineering Workflow alone.
  • There was strong concern from many that any "backlog" type of workflow can become a "dumping ground" where tickets are made, rarely escape, and "naturally compost".

3. We voted on concepts async.

Everyone got to vote, and everyone’s vote was counted equally. Read more about structuring your teams so that everyone’s voice is heard, and how we value transparency at Shortcut.

4. We added a Backlog state to our Workflow to reflect the winning concept.

Here’s what was decided on:

Admins and Owners can go to the Workflow State Settings Page to add Backlog workflow states to existing workflows. You can also create a new workflow that is dedicated to your Backlog process by creating a new workflow and adding only Backlog states.

5. We migrated Stories into the Backlog.

For new Stories, select a Backlog Workflow State. Any Story in a Backlog Workflow State will appear on the Backlog Page.

See How the Backlog Feature Works in Action

Benefits of Managing Your Backlog 

  • Improved project visibility - Get an overview of the work that needs to be done
  • Prioritization - Complete tasks based on importance and urgency
  • Efficient resource allocation - Ensure the right people are working on the right tasks at the right time
  • Better communication - Everyone has a clear understanding of the work that needs to be done
  • Increased collaboration - Facilitates cross-team collaboration 
  • Greater flexibility - Tasks can be added, removed, or reprioritized as needed.
  • Enhanced productivity - Stay focused and productive with a clear understanding of what needs to be done and when.
  • Ship faster - Complete work more efficiently and ship iteratively and often

More Resources

  1. Shortcut Training Hub
  2. Help Center
  3. More blogs here, here, here and here.

What's next for the Shortcut Backlog? 

We'll continue to add more functionality to the backlog:  

  • Idea Management
  • Epics Backlog

Try Shortcut for Free

If you’ve somehow reached the end of this article and are not still not using Shortcut, what are you waiting for?! Give us a whirl for free.

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