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Are You Delivering Potentially Shippable Product Each Sprint?

September 18, 2023
Bill Kimball

It is quite different when it comes to Agile development of Native/Hybrid Apps. Firstly, continuous integration is difficult and hence dependent on the development team to build and release Apps at regular intervals whereas they may believe they would be better off writing code during that time.

Some teams will say, “We can’t do agile because we can’t release every two weeks.” That is not what it means. Instead, you may not have enough value completed to release at that time, but what you have is high quality, or “releasable”. Your release cadence and your sprint cadence can be different, but you should be completing an increment of functionality–built, tested and free of critical defects. The term “minimum viable product” was coined and defined by Frank Robinson about 2001, and popularized by Steve Blank and Eric Ries.

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“The MVP has just those features considered sufficient for it to be of value to customers, and allow for it to be shipped or sold to early adopters. Customer feedback will inform future development of the product.” Ridhi Chhabra is working in the field of Project Management from last 8 years. She has been implementing Scrum Framework in 80% of her projects which are resulting in Successful Project Completion and Great Customer Experience. She has great Communication skills and got a proven experience in interacting with customers around the globe, across US, UK, Australia and South Africa. In order to ensure, we are delivering a Potentially Shippable product at the end of the sprint, we must understand what potentially shippable means. Mike Cohn specializes in helping companies adopt and improve their use of agile processes and techniques to build extremely high-performance teams. He is the author of User Stories Applied for Agile Software Development, Agile Estimating and Planning, and Succeeding with Agile as well as the Better User Stories video course.

  • One of the biggest reasons was too many technical debts introduced sprint after sprint that prevented us from having a stable release at the end of each sprint.
  • Only when they are small enough, can you really measure your velocity.
  • We looked at why there was so much spill over and why the team was not able to have a stable release at the end of the sprint.
  • The final, complete set of features is only designed and developed after considering feedback from the product’s initial users.
  • As part of sprint planning, the PO describes the feature and the team breaks down the story into smaller tasks.

Shipping is a business decision; potentially shippable is a state of confidence. Not all team members are the same so they may not burn the same number of story points in the sprint. This is something that can be tracked over 3-4 sprints to identify who can burn how many story points and plan the allocation accordingly.

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However, this typically requires an investment in Test Automation. Some organizations also expand further through user acceptance testing and production deployment.

The release sprint is not a dumping ground for sloppy work; rather it is a place where some hardening of the system can occur. Once the sprint planning was complete, the sprint goal was clearly communicated to the team along with the story points assigned to each Scrum team member, considering their appetite and capacity .

If there is a perfect definition of done, then the product can be shipped each Sprint. If the Definition of Done is weak, then there will still be work to be done, leading to less transparency, less flexibility and increased development risk. Well, when we define the ‘definition of Done’, We want it to be a Potentially Shippable product. Whether the product needs to be shipped or not, that’s a decision taken by the Product Owners or Business Owners.

We looked at why there was so much spill over and why the team was not able to have a stable release at the end of the sprint. The technical debts continued to increase and kept on adding, sprint after sprint. In summary, employ the key elements of “Definition of Done”, “Learn New Skills”, and “Break Down Requirements” to create a Potentially Shippable Product Increment. Getting potentially shippable is a key Agile capability but getting there is complex and involves different parts of the organization. An Agile assessment is a good step towards understanding what’s standing in the way of shippable. In Scrum, the goal is to have a Potentially Shippable Product Increment at the end of every sprint. However, many teams fail to accomplish this on a regular basis.

Product Owner Vs Scrum Master: Key Differences

Many people consider the terms MMP and MMR are often used interchangeably. But MMP should be a product development strategy that is based on the philosophy that “less is more”. By the end of each iteration, a Scrum team is expected to produce a Potentially Shippable Product.

One of the key goals of Agile Scrum is the ability to deliver a potentially shippable product increment at the end of each sprint. Agile lays down the principles and guidelines but very often a majority of agile teams fail to accomplish this goal. If you collect and focus on too many, they may be obstructing your field of view. There can be no situation where a product is delivered without being tested. By the end of the Sprint, the delivered product increment needs to be bug-free. If needed by the Product Owner, the feature should be a bug-free, it can be released to the beta users or the stakeholders to review.

potentially shippable product increment

Similarly, if acquiring a new release of a product is expensive in time or money to customers, you’ll want to release it less often. Suppose you buy the latest iPhone and a week later Apple announces a new version.

Are You Delivering Potentially Shippable Product Each Sprint?

This allows us to align expectations of “potentially shippable” and “working software.” (See Principle #7 in the Agile Manifesto). There are a surprising number of assumptions that go into “Save” though; the program I’m using to write this blog post, for example, doesn’t even have a Save command. Instead, everything is automatically saved—to iCloud using CloudSync, naturally—when I stop typing for a few moments. As a Product Owner, I don’t have to know about iCloud or CloudSync, but I do have to define those things that I would otherwise take for granted.

As per Scrum Inc, a Potentially Shippable Product is the outcome of the Product Backlog Items delivered at each Sprint. Delivering Potentially Shippable Product at each Sprint is essential to the Scrum because when work is divided into simple pieces it can be finished in short iterations. Focus to maximize output rather than 100% team utilization i.e. maximize outcome and impact. Anything working on 100% capacity for longer duration will eventually break. I think it’s important to understand your audience, use the best possible terms, and define the words that you are using if there is room for confusion. First, we have to agree on a Definition of Done, or define the finish line.

Agile Project Management And Scrum Framework

Secondly, frequent releases to App Stores (i.e. at the end of every sprint) is something one may want to avoid. One needs to have a mature team not in terms of experience but in terms of thought process, agility and commitment. Having a team level burn-down sent at the end of each sprint appreciates their work if they have achieved 100%. So, to be considered potentially releasable, the product increment must be high quality, well tested, and complete. But it does not necessarily need to be a cohesive set of functionality. First, it’s important to understand that there is a reason it’s called potentially releasable. It will usually be driven by the cost of delivering the new increment of the product and the cost to customers of acquiring it.

As we know Agile methodologies emphasize on “Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation”. When we talk about working software, it is both complete and potentially shippable. I truly believe that for meeting a sprint goal its important that the team is matured enough to understand Agile, commitment, their goal and work collaboratively to achieve success. I use “releasable” to mean “ready for the next downstream activity from development”. In my current environment, that often involves either a formal verification process or a formal user acceptance testing and validation process. I use “shippable” to mean “ready for production”, meaning it’s been verified and validated as necessary and it’s ready for either deployment to or activation in the production environment. I’m sure other people out there use these words differently than Steve or I do, as well.

A new product is a product with just enough features to satisfy early users. The final, complete set of features is only designed and developed after considering feedback from the product’s initial users. Gathering insights from an MVP is often less expensive than developing a product with more features, which increases costs and risk if the product fails. Keeping all the challenges aside, one should still deliver a potentially shippable product increment. In case the team is able to complete their tasks 2-3 days in advance of sprint closure and there are no newly reported issues, they can start to analyze the next set of tickets in the backlog. At times, they can pick the technical debts as per the prioritized backlog or perform minor refactoring, explore new tools, and help the QC team in closing the tickets, etc. We, as a team, struggled to achieve this key objective over the last few months.

Many times this is the inexperience of the team coming through, but other times it is possible the work is just that inseparable. For example, you probably wouldn’t release a system that allowed users to log in but did not allow them to log out. However, logging in without logging out could be potentially shippable if it met our three criteria above. Shipping may or may not occur at the end of the sprint and it is just a business decision.