Product Increment

What is the Product Increment in Scrum. Scrum Artifacts

In the world of product management and agile software development, the Product Increment plays a key role. It is the sum of all product items that have been added during the Sprint and meet the criteria of the Definition of Done. Along with the Product Backlog and the Sprint Backlog, it is one of the key Scrum Artifacts

Increment in the Scrum Guide Definition

The Increment is a key concept in the Scrum framework, defined in the Scrum Guide as "the total value of the product enhanced by all items added since the last increment". This means that the Increment is the set of all product items that have been completed during a given Sprint, as well as all previously implemented items. Therefore, the Increment is a measure of work progress and represents a ready-to-release segment of the product.

The role of the increment in managing product work is crucial and has several important aspects:

  • Transparency of work progress. The Increment represents a concrete achievement of each Sprint, which allows the team and stakeholders to monitor progress and evaluate the effectiveness of the work.
  • Flexibility and adaptation. Thanks to the regular delivery of Increments, the team has the opportunity to quickly respond to changes in requirements or situations, which promotes flexibility.
  • Minimization of risk. Regular creation of Increments allows for the early detection of potential problems or errors, thereby minimizing the risk for the entire work.
  • Increased stakeholder engagement. Delivering valuable Increments means that stakeholders see the real results of the team's work and are more engaged in the product creation process.

In software development, this is quite simple to notice: our Product has a version, and each subsequent version or added feature is precisely an increment.

Definition of Done

Key to achieving the Increment is adhering to the criteria of the Definition of Done (DoD) - the definition of work completion. DoD sets a set of qualitative standards and requirements that must be met for an increment to be considered "ready for use". This ensures that each product functionality increment is complete and potentially ready to be delivered to the customer.

The Definition of Done answers the question: How do we know when something is finished? Applying this definition to everyday life, there is a difference in perspective on what "a cleaned room" means to a child, teenager, parent, or grandparents. And this document helps us to unify perspectives and develop a common meaning of "ready", in this example "cleaned".

Product Increment in Sprint Planning and Product Backlog

The first step in creating an effective Increment is proper management of the Product Backlog. The Product Backlog should be regularly updated and prioritized by the Product Owner. Before each Sprint, the Scrum team selects from the Backlog those items that will be developed in the upcoming cycle. Selected items become part of the Sprint Backlog and should be clearly defined and achievable within one Sprint.

During Sprint Planning, the Scrum Team selects items from the Product Backlog to be transformed into value for the customer. It is then decided what work will be done to achieve the Increment in that Sprint. Planning must take into account not only the tasks themselves but also the time needed for their implementation and potential risks.

One of the key moments for assessing the implementation plan is the Sprint Review. This is a time to verify whether the team's work results meet expectations and whether they bring the product closer to the next anticipated release. During this event, stakeholders can assess the value delivered by the team and make decisions regarding the future direction of product development.

Conversely, during the last event at the end of the Sprint - the Retrospective - the team has an opportunity for open discussion about the problems they encountered while working on the Increment. This allows for the identification and resolution of problems and more efficient work on subsequent Increments.

Increment and Sprint Goal

The Sprint Goal is a specific outcome that the Scrum Team wants to achieve during a specified period of time. In analyzing the mutual interaction between the Increment and the Sprint Goal, several aspects should be considered:

  • Clearly defined Sprint Goal. Defining a specific Sprint Goal is crucial for effective work. A clear goal allows the team to focus on completing specific tasks and achieving a coherent Increment.
  • Consistency of the Increment with the Sprint Goal. It is important that the increment generated during the Sprint is consistent with the established goal. If the Increment does not meet the Sprint Goal, it can lead to inefficiency and dissatisfaction among customers.
  • Measurement of progress. Analyzing the relationship between the Increment and the Sprint Goal also allows for monitoring work progress. By comparing the achieved Increment with the set goal, potential problems can be quickly identified and corrective actions taken.
  • Control over the scope of work. A close analysis of the relationship between the Increment and the Sprint Goal helps avoid excessive expansion of the scope of work during the Sprint. This maintains process stability and ensures timely delivery of a valuable product.

One of the popular methods for tracking work on the increment is the Burndown Chart, which allows for verifying progress by comparing planned tasks with their actual execution.

Summary

In summary, effective creation of Increments requires:

  • Careful work on the Product Backlog.
  • Precise setting of Sprint Goals.
  • Close cooperation within the Scrum Team.
  • Rigorous application of the Definition of Done.
  • Continuous and transparent adaptation and inspection of progress.

In case of doubts, it is always worth referring to the Scrum Guide - an online guide to Scrum.