What Is a Usable Increment?

A usable Increment in Scrum revolves around providing immediate value and a platform for feedback and continuous improvement. It’s a concrete step toward the Product Goal.

In the dynamic world of product development, delivering value is vital to creating tangible, releasable outputs at the end of each sprint, ensuring that the product consistently moves towards enhanced usability and functionality.

From the Scrum Guide 2020:

An Increment is a concrete stepping stone toward the Product Goal. Each Increment is additive to all prior Increments and thoroughly verified, ensuring that all Increments work together. To provide value, the Increment must be usable.

Things to consider:

1.     Definition of Done:

A usable Increment must meet the predetermined “Definition of Done” (DoD), which includes all the criteria the team has agreed upon for a product increment to be considered complete. The DoD ensures that every Increment meets the quality measures required for the product and is valuable, fully functional, and ready to be used. It’s about finishing work items and meeting all quality standards and requirements to deploy the Increment.

2.     Value to Customer:

A crucial aspect of any Improvement is its value to the end-user. An Increment must include features or enhancements that are believed to be beneficial. This could mean solving a problem, adding a new feature, or improving an existing one to make the product more helpful or straightforward. If an Increment doesn’t add value to the customer, it’s worth reconsidering its priority.

3.     Fully Integrated:

Each Increment must be fully integrated with the existing product, meaning it should work seamlessly with the other features and components. Integration ensures that the new Increment doesn’t disrupt the product’s functionality or introduce new issues. This seamless integration is essential for maintaining a reliable product that customers can trust.

4.     Potentially Releasable:

The essence of a usable Increment is that it’s potentially releasable to the end-users if desired. This ensures that the product is always near-shippable, reducing the time to market for new features and enhancements.

5.     Feedback Ready:

Usable Increments are essential for gathering valuable feedback. Delivering functional product slices allows the team to gather insights from real users or stakeholders, guiding future development efforts to align with user needs and preferences.

6.     Sustainable Development Pace:

Creating usable Increments should avoid burnout or unsustainable work practices. The development pace should be consistent and manageable, ensuring high-quality outputs without compromising the team’s well-being. This sustainable approach ensures the team can maintain a steady flow of valuable Increments over time.

A usable Increment is more than just a completed set of work items; it’s a carefully crafted piece of the product that brings immediate value and is ready for real-world application. It encapsulates the team’s collaborative effort and commitment to delivering tangible user benefits.

Through this lens, each Increment is a step toward reaching the next Product Goal and a leap toward creating something precious and impactful. This mindset transforms how teams approach their work, fostering a culture of excellence and customer-centric development.