I am having a debate with someone at work, think I know the answer, but I would like to hear what other people think. If anything, this will confirm that I am right, or show me a better way to approach what I am working on.

In this situation, I am acting in the role of Scrum Master as the business analyst on the project. I believe that items in the backlog should not be assigned to a specific user. I also believe that items should not be assigned to me when I am grooming or vetting them, including defining requirements or acceptance criteria.

I am trying to avoid having to constantly process a large list of unactionable items, which is what happens when every item in the backlog is assigned to me. I should be able to focus just on the items in the backlog that I am grooming or vetting. Plus, I also work as a developer, so it helps if I can see a clear list of items that I am managing, rather than have items assigned to me that are not included in the current sprint.

What do you think?


  • Also, to help clarify the process... I'd like someone to confirm my understanding ... Items in the backlog sit unassigned. During sprint planning, items are moved into a sprint, but still remain unassigned. Once the sprint begins, team members take ownership and assignment of items they are working on. Thanks again.
    – Lazor
    Commented Sep 11, 2019 at 18:36
  • 1
    "Product Owner set the sprint's goal for the team, scrum team pick the user stories from product backlog fulfilling those goals. Those user stories which moved to sprint is owned by scrum team, as the team is committed with the sprint backlog items during a sprint which is in timebox." -- yodiz.com/blog/… Commented Sep 11, 2019 at 19:09
  • Lazor i'd like to better understand how you're working now. Is assigning something to you meaningful? Is it simply a way to ensure everything is assigned? Are some things assigned and some not? If yes then why? If everything assigned to you was suddenly unassigned what information would be lost? Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 11:47
  • We generally assign stories to the team when they are put into the backlog, then they get added to the sprint, then the user reassigns it to themselves when they agree to work on it. Commented Sep 16, 2019 at 22:49

2 Answers 2


In agile development, do whatever works. Identify impediments and remove them – if getting items assigned prevents you from being productive, find some solution to that.

If you're trying to implement the Scrum process, it sounds even weirder that the Scrum Master is getting itemd assigned:

  • The Scrum Master is just a role that takes care that the Scrum Process is followed. This role could even be rotated through team members. The Scrum Master role only cares how you do things, not what you do.
  • Items don't get assigned. The Product Owner prioritizes, the team delivers. The Scrum Master is not directly involved with backlog grooming or task assignment, they just assist the PO and the team to fulfill their roles most effectively.
  • The Scrum Master is however concerned with finding suitable techniques for backlog management.
  • How the team manages tasks is ideally an internal matter. It is unavoidable in practice that tasks are assigned to individuals, but I think that is deeply un-agile.

It sounds like the Scrum process isn't really your problem, regardless of whether you're trying to follow it. It rather sounds that you're using some issue management system that is getting in your way, and is imposing weird processes, or is used in a way that goes against the processes that the team is trying to use.

  • Can that system and the people using it be changed so that issues can be unassigned?
  • If not, could there be a separate account for the Scrum Master role?
  • Or could the system offer labels or queues that let you distinguish between backlog items and development tasks?
  • Is your system appropriate for tracking ill-defined backlog tasks? Physical representations such as hand-written cards can work surprisingly well.

Identify the problems that the workflow fixes. If your problem is that your team has hoarders who don't trust others to pull their favorite tickets and work them appropriately, your approach might be a good fit.

On the other hand, if developers don't know what to pull from the backlog, or it's difficult to get them to add technical detail for grooming, it may be good for them to take responsibility for the tickets before they commit to the work in a sprint.

If this is a way to fix your own workflow, is there a better set of filters or tools you could be using?

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