What is a Product Increment?
A Product Increment is the version, or part of a product which will be delivered at the end of each Sprint. It is the summation of overall Backlog items completed during the Sprint, as well as the previous completed Sprints. Work cannot be considered part of an Increment unless it is complete and meets the “Definition of Done”.
Product Increment is considered the most significant of the Artifacts in Scrum Framework. It provides tracking for work which has been delivered in each Sprint, and most important, it is the output that should provide value for the customers and users to reach the desired outcome.
In this article, we’ll take a look at Product Increment in more detail, who is responsible, and what it means for teams. Then, we’ll also explore the Definition of Done, and how this is a crucial part of the Increment.
What is the purpose of a Product Increment?
First things first, let’s look at the purpose of a Product Increment. Product Increment allows teams to invest in new features of the product in small amounts and on a regular basis. It provides two main purposes, which are outlined below:
- Work is delivered in regular increments to customers and stakeholders.
- The team’s progress can be tracked through working software.
Both of these points support principles from the Agile Manifesto. In other words, Product Increment allows teams to remain Agile. Let’s explore this in more detail.
Firstly, work being delivered in regular increments shortens the time before feedback on the product is received. Regular feedback is beneficial as it prevents the team from focusing efforts and time into the wrong areas, thus ensuring they are moving in the right direction. This approach allows the product to be part of a repeated process of development, testing and innovation that Scrum inspires. This is fundamental to the Agile Manifesto as it allows the team to pivot and change where required. Customer’s needs will constantly change and evolve so this is crucial in order to remain Agile.
Secondly, Product Increment offers a way of measuring progress through working software, which is also a core principle of Agile. Increment allows transparency and tracking on what has been completed and what is still left to be completed. And as outlined in the Agile Principles, working software is what matters.
Who is responsible for Product Increment?
The Product Increment is delivered on a regular basis by the team of Developers. It should reflect the strategy or roadmap which has been set out by the Product Owner and meet the team’s Definition of Done (we cover this in more detail further on).
The entire Scrum Team is accountable for creating a valuable, useful Increment after every Sprint.
When should the Product Increment be released to the Market?
The Product Increment is ready for shipping at the end of each Sprint. However, we must understand the difference between ‘potentially shippable’ and ‘potentially releasable’. By the end of the Spring, the product is ready to be shipped, but this doesn’t mean that it can be released in the market.
The release of the Increment depends on many factors. The Scrum Team should ensure that it has been well tested, is of the required quality and is complete. More specifically, it should meet the Definition of Done, which we cover in more detail in the next section.
The Definition of Done
The Definition of Done is a formal description of the state of the Increment when it meets the quality measures required for the product. In other words, it is a collection of criteria that each completed item has to meet before it can be considered as complete. The Definition of Done is defined by general quality requirements which applies for each and every item in the Product Backlog as well as acceptance criterias that are unique for the specific item in question.
The team must have a shared understanding of ‘Done’ so they know when work is complete. This also helps to ensure transparency between the team.
The Product Increment provides benefits to the entire Scrum Team and the various stakeholders. It not only enables the team to present their work to the stakeholders, but to actually demonstrate it and let the stakeholder interact with the product themselves. Thus resulting in more meaningful and accurate feedback that helps the team to develop.