How do you maintain your backlogs?

We maintain backlogs in excel and each PMs has its own format and structure. I have been tasked internally to come up with a format that can be used by all PMs across the company. Anyone willing to share a format(excel) on how you maintain your backlog?


Nobody manages their backlog on Excel. Do they not want to pay for Jira? At least get Asana or Trello.


We have jira but we don’t use backlog features in it.


@Christie, Then use the backlog feature in it. Maybe form a “acquiring skill group” with all the other product owners so that you can all agree and learn how to use the feature accordingly.


@ChristieDook, I’m curious what you use Jira for if not for managing backlogs? That’s kind of what Jira is built for, isn’t it?


Excel backlog… kill me now.

Use a tool dear, there are even free ones out there. Life is too short to spend it on spreadsheets.


Thank you for the advice, Any recommendations for a free one?


You can use Trello, Notion, GitLab etc. There are some free tools to use.

I would ask - what tool are the dev teams using to manage the execution of their work? Many of those mentioned (jira, trello, Azure DevOps, etc) have integrated backlog management capabilities.


Ok clearly an unpopular opinion but I actually do not think this is THAT insane. You can drag reorder rows in excel just like you can in a Jira backlog and you can add columns for whatever you want to keep track of. Is it kind of silly, perhaps even stupid, especially if your dev team is already managing their work elsewhere? Yes.

But I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s not a tool that COULD be used to manage a backlog. I wouldn’t call it a waste of time if the alternative is not having a backlog at all.

Anyway OP I don’t have a template for you, I would just collaborate with your peer PMs to agree on what data is most useful to store about your backlog items and go from there.


@Rohit, I get your point, but I disagree. It is insane in that the productivity ceiling as you grow/scale hits pretty soon.

Most tools these days bring along help on the communication front (changes, addition/removal, etc…), and gathering market research/feedback to help with justifying decisions.


Anything that lets you do Kanban should be okay. Best get started with Trello / Asana.

Protip: If you use google sheets, you can combine it with Integromat to build some crazy automations for ease of reporting. I built a tool like this for a startup where I used Google sheets to track progress on Trello boards, and provide my team with a daily snapshot of workflow. DM if you want to talk more about this - Integromat is free for basic automations.


Everyone’s mentioned Trello already and I agree - we actually use both that and JIRA at our company. There is the backlog of delivery work which hooks up to our reports etc in JIRA and is great to show all the work in progress and tracking against our joint release date (we share an app across several squads)

BUT for collaboration and hypothesis work, or things that we discover in user research, there is a joint backlog we use on Trello that is used for playing around with what could be the next feature or thing we test, design and/or build. The other plus of Trello is that it is a lot easier to show stakeholders how to add requests rather than showing them JIRA (too many fields scare them :wink: )


As many have said, plenty of solid alternatives to excel for a classic backlog – Jira, ADO, Linear, Trello (ish).

If your team is fairly user-centric, you could alternatively use a story map to craft a backlog and then integrate with Jira for delivery tracking.

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Thanks for all the suggestions. Any particular free backlog tool other than Jira of course that integrates with Jira and Office 360 (SharePoint) ?

Also my focus is also on picking a tool that makes it easy to groom. I would love to groom the backlog based on different KPIs, goals, before each sprint.

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@Christie, Do you just straight up hate JIRA or something? :laughing: Why so against using the tool you already have? (If you do hate it, I don’t blame ya…I am curious though).

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If you have more than one PM, how are you managing tasks into development? This sounds insane.

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Haha I don’t hate it but wanted to adopt more richer functionality if possible. PS- I will most likely give Jira tool a shot also.

We use Jira. But we don’t use backlog or roadmap type features in there.

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@Christie, OK. In that case your easiest way forward is to actually use Jira.

Put some hours in to really understanding what it has. If you have multiple projects (we have 60+) then build boards for the most important areas. We tend to rebuild boards based on what’s needed. Are you on Team Managed or Company Managed projects?

Honestly the answer is to use what you have, not Excel!