A Sample Format for a Spreadsheet-Based Product Backlog

I want to show a real easy way to put user stories in a spreadsheet-based product backlog. I wrote this after seeing someone tweet a screen capture of a product backlog I made nine years ago and thought to myself, “Yikes, that's out of date for how I do it today …” So in this post, well look at an agile product backlog template in Excel. 

As you probably know, I'm a big fan of writing the product backlog in the form of user stories and of writing user stories in the form: “As a _____, I ______, so that _______.” An example being: “As a frequent flyer, I really want to be able to connect to the internet while flying so that I can update my blog while traveling rather than having to save this as a text file and updating my blog later.” (Can you guess where I am while writing this?)

What I've found makes a user story in this format very easy to work with in an agile Excel spreadsheet is to take the boilerplate parts and put them into column headings. So we'll have column headings like “As a” and “I” and “so that”. The meat of each story is then clearly visible in each row. Additional columns can be added for things like a unique identifier, notes, status and such. In this example, I've also included a column for the theme or grouping of which the story is a part. You can see this in the screen capture below.

You can click the image for a larger view of the agile Excel spreadsheet.

the product backlog in Excel



About the Author

As the founder of Mountain Goat Software, Mike Cohn specializes in helping companies adopt and improve their use of agile processes and techniques to build extremely high-performance teams. He is the author of User Stories Applied for Agile Software Development, Agile Estimating and Planning, and Succeeding with Agile. Mike is a founding member of the Agile Alliance and Scrum Alliance. He is also the founder of FrontRowAgile.com, an online agile training website. He can be reached at info@mountaingoatsoftware.com or connect with Mike on Google+.