What is an Increment? - Essential Agile Development Insight

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StarAgile

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May 06, 2024

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Increments are crucial in Scrum and serve as significant milestones on the path to achieving the Product Goal. They represent tangible progress, value, and usability for stakeholders. In this detailed guide, we'll explore Increments, break down their definition, and importance in Scrum, and provide practical examples to clarify exactly what is an Increment in Scrum. Increments act as measurable steps towards the ultimate Product Goal and play a vital role within the Scrum framework. They signify concrete achievements, demonstrating value and functionality to stakeholders. If I sum it up in a single line, then increments in scrum serve as essential checkpoints in the development process. 

What is an Increment?

1. Increment serves as a tangible step towards the Product Goal. Each increment is integrated with the previous ones and thoroughly tested, providing smooth compatibility. For an increment to be valuable, it must provide utility. - An excerpt from Scrum Guide 1.

2. The phrase Increment can be confusing, especially for beginners, to Scrum or agile software development. To simplify, let's use a well-known software analogy: versions. An increment denotes the most recent stable version of a product.

3. It can be compared to a snapshot of progress, containing the most recent stable version of a product as well as extra functionality aimed at providing value to end consumers. Each increment represents a unified unit of work that builds on prior iterations, serving as a stepping stone toward the ultimate goal.

4. To elaborate, an increment is not a stand-alone deliverable; rather, it is an essential component of a continuous development process. It represents the development team's combined efforts, including modifications and changes targeted at increasing the product's utility and effectiveness.

5. By adhering to the Definition of Done, an Increment assures consistency in quality and usability, establishing clear benchmarks for satisfying predefined criteria and customer expectations.

6. Furthermore, an increment acts as a tangible indicator of progress, giving stakeholders insight into the iterative development process. It allows teams to exhibit their accomplishments, collect feedback, and iterate further, promoting a cycle of continuous improvement. As a result, while an increment denotes a specific milestone in the development timeframe, it also indicates a broader commitment to provide value and excellence in product development.

Examples of Increments

To gain a deeper understanding of how Increments are applied in real-world scenarios, let's have a look into a variety of illustrative examples across different product domains:

Product Domain

Increment Example

PayPal App

1. Introduction of Touch ID login feature to enhance user convenience and security.

2. Implementation of bug fixes to improve user experience and security.

Firefox Browser

1. Resolution of a specific security vulnerability (e.g., CVE-202226383) to ensure user safety.

2. Integration of performance enhancements for faster browsing.

New York Times Website

1. Publication of new articles to keep users engaged and informed. <br> 2. Introduction of UI enhancements for better readability and navigation.

Amazon.com

1. Expansion of the product catalogue with new items.

2. Optimization of website loading speed for a smoother shopping experience.

SAP Integration

1. Implementation of a new process to streamline user workflows and improve efficiency.

2. Enhancement of existing functionalities to be more intuitive.

Marketing

1. Rollout of a new advertisement campaign to increase brand visibility. 


2. Publication of engaging social media posts to enhance user engagement and brand loyalty.

Netflix Series

1. Release of a new episode to enrich the content library. 


2. Introduction of new features or enhancements to the streaming platform to improve viewing experience.

ChatGPT Website

1. Integration of a new chat feature for better user interaction and support.  2. Optimization of website responsiveness to enhance user experience on different devices.

 

 

Each of the examples above clearly depicts an instance in which a new version or more features were added to an existing product or platform. Whether it's the introduction of a new feature, such as Touch ID login in the PayPal app, or the publication of new editorial content on the New York Times website, each example represents a step forward or improvement in functionality.

Similarly, improvements like efficiency optimizations in the Firefox browser and the addition of a new chat function to the ChatGPT website show a dedication to improving user experiences and providing added value. These examples demonstrate the iterative nature of product development, with each iteration introducing innovations, additions, or optimizations to better serve end consumers.

When is the First Increment Created?

1. The first Increment begins during the initial Sprint, which fits with the fundamental concepts of Scrum. This signals the beginning of value delivery and risk management initiatives, which are critical for setting the framework for the project. It is critical to dispel myths about phrases like "Sprint Zero" and "phased Sprints," as they may imply a delay in actual results. Instead, the focus is on developing a viable feature or functionality from the start of the project.

2. By creating the first Increment early on, teams can start a cycle of iterative development focused at reducing feasibility risks and encouraging empirical learning. This proactive strategy encourages early stakeholder engagement, allowing for important feedback and alignment with changing requirements.

How Many Increments Can a Scrum Team Create?

1. Scrum teams can create several increments within a sprint based on their capabilities and the sprint's objectives. Although the Scrum Guide recommends at least one increment per sprint, teams can create multiple increments in the same timeframe. This adaptable strategy enables iterative development, allowing for modest improvements to product features and functionalities.

2. By adopting this iterative process, teams can engage in a continuous improvement cycle, using rapid feedback loops to iteratively perfect their work. This iterative methodology not only increases value delivery but also allows teams to adjust quickly to changing requirements and stakeholder feedback. As a result, it @creates an environment that promotes incremental value delivery and long-term innovation.

Does Each Increment Have to be Delivered to Users?

While it's the responsibility, of developers to create Increments, the decision of when to deliver them to end users rests with the Product Owner. The Product Owner bears the responsibility of optimizing the product's value, strategically assessing when and how to release Increments based on user requirements and business goals. However, it's crucial to emphasize that delivered Increments should necessitate no additional effort for deployment. This approach minimizes time-to-market and maximizes user value, ensuring that each Increment contributes directly to the /overall enhancement of the product without any delays or complications in deployment.

What is an Increment in Scaled Scrum?

1. In Scaled Scrum, the concept of an Increment takes on a broader scope, as multiple Scrum Teams collaborate on a singular product. Here, integrated Increments emerge, which represents the culmination of efforts from individual teams into a unified entity. This collective endeavor ensures that each team's contributions seamlessly blend, resulting in a cohesive and comprehensive product development process.

2. Within the Nexus framework for scaled Scrum, the Nexus Integration Team (NIT) plays a critical role in organizing the generation of integrated increments. The NIT acts as a bridge between individual Scrum Teams, facilitating  communication, coordination, and alignment across the whole product development process. Using the NIT's knowledge, teams may efficiently solve difficulties like inter-team dependencies, conflicting priorities, and divergent techniques.

3. Integrated Increments within scaled Scrum indicate not just numerous teams joint efforts, but also significant progress towards the shared Product Goal. These Increments represent a comprehensive approach, spanning a variety of features, capabilities, and components created by different teams. As a result, they give stakeholders with a full picture of the product's evolution and preparedness for deployment.

Conclusion

To summarise, increments are the foundation of value delivery and progress assessment in Scrum, enabling teams to negotiate complexities, mitigate risks, and create actual value with each iteration cycle. Understanding their importance allows teams to encourage agility, promote collaboration, and drive innovation in the quest for product excellence. Our Certified Scrum Master (CSM) Certification course helps you get an in-and-out understanding of Scrum's full potential. Learn how to lead Agile teams, overcome challenges, and deliver value-driven solutions effectively with our Scrum Master Course and advance your career today!

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