What Is The Meaning Of Features In Agile?

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Jan 27, 2022

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Agile projects are simple and iterative in their approach, where even the most complex ones are broken down into lower-level subtasks. They are brought down to the level of manageable chunks to be completed one at a time. In this article, we will discuss agile feature definition and explore different aspects of features in agile. 

What Is A Feature In Agile?

When it comes to Agile methodologies, a feature is representative of a portion of functionality that helps deliver consistent business value and meet the needs of the stakeholders. When we set out to describe features in Agile, we can refer to them as a collection of user stories. Every feature in Agile can be broken down into multiple user stories since they can be too big to work upon individually. A user story is an informal and short description and can be called a part of a software feature. It is written from a user's perspective and usually describes how the bit of a feature will demonstrate value for the user.

An important question that arises is why we use features in Agile and not user stories. The simple answer to this is that features are used to manage the functionality of a big product. Features operate to assist in product development, right from a macro level. When rolled out for a user, features are usually big enough to deliver a considerable benefit to the user.

So, a feature should be able to adhere to a few crucial points, including the following:

  • It should be able to deliver some business value.
  • A feature should be capable of an estimate. The team developing the feature should estimate the work that it would take to implement it.
  • A feature should fit within an iteration, and if it is too big, then it should be capable of being broken down.
  • A feature should be capable of testing to pass an automated or manual test before being passed on to a customer.

A feature can be given different terms when referring to it based on different methodologies. The term 'user stories' is used in extreme programming, while scrum uses 'product backlog' to describe features. Ultimately, the ideal behind features remains the same, wherein they incrementally deliver some business value.

Using Product Features

When using a Scaled Agile Framework, a feature can be done for a maximum period of 2 to 3 months. They must be able to fit in at least one program increment. This is because it becomes easier to measure feature points and their velocity for every program increment, which can be further portrayed to the relevant customers.

Feature points are units of measurement for varying levels of complexity and knowledge, which help realize the features. In order to understand better how to define features in scrum training, here are agile feature examples.

For example, if a product manager is entitled to the duty of defining new features in an electric car rental domain. Within this role, he may have to define a particular feature in the product backlog which will help a user to get advice about which electric car they should rent, depending on their varying rental requirements. He may call such a feature 'your electric advice.'

This brings us to the next part of the article, discussing writing features during CSM training.

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How To Write Features?

There are a few crucial steps involved in defining features. Let us go through them one by one.

  • At first, it starts with defining the benefit hypothesis. Here, we try to define what gain the functionality will bring to the user. As a product owner, you must ensure that the information you offer is the 'why' part. It should be able to help your team understand what feature they are going to build.
  • Start by evaluating the business value using simple systems and some complex ones. While doing this, you should evaluate the number of users, the time involved in releasing the feature, return of investment, and more.
  • Determine the context of the feature to imply how your users are going to make use of the feature. This description should focus on the needs of the user.
  • Next, move on to the acceptance criteria to understand the conditions which mark the feature. The features are a great way to assess the progress during product development.

Characteristics Of Features

A feature must fulfill the following characteristics of a feature that you will get to know in CSM certification:

  • It should be able to provide business value that can be measured without prejudice.
  • Features should be capable of being estimated with the help of enough information with the assistance of the Agile team. It will help to estimate the work which will be implemented with the feature.
  • Features should be small enough to fit into a program increment so that they can be marked as done, but at the same time, they should be big enough to justify the work of the administration.
  • Features should be capable of testing by the scrum team and the product management team, and they should be able to automatically or manually test the features.

To Sum Up

The role of features becomes apparent during the planning stage at the macro level. At some point, they will need to be broken down into different tasks and estimated. This can be achieved with the help of sprint planning and release planning. The nature of agile projects is almost always fluid because of which it may not always turn out to be very precise. Thus, estimates regarding features may or may not map according to the number of estimates in a task. However, a professional who has attained a certified scrum master certification can make a rough estimate between two plausible options to make a good choice.

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