Potentially Shippable Product Increment (PI) and Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Approach

Potentially Shippable Product Increment

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Scrum requires teams to build an increment of functionality during every sprint, and the increment must be potentially shippable because the Product Owner might decide to release it at the end of the sprint.

  • The product increment is the sum of all backlog items completed during the current sprint
  • Potentially shippable is defined by a state of confidence or readiness
  • Shipping is a business decision: shipping may or may not occur at the end of the sprint (new functionality may be accumulated via multiple sprints before being shipped)

Minimum Viable Product Approach

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The product increment may or may not be marketable. However, a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) approach is sometimes used to help test marketable ideas. MVP is a product release strategy which can be used in Scrum (or another framework). The term was created by Frank Robinson, and popularized by Steve Blank, and Eric Ries.

The MVP has just those features (functional, reliable and usable) 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.

Here are a few examples of then-startups use of an MVP:

  • Facebook: The first product (originally called Thefacebook) tested traction of students connecting with their college/class and posting messages. Other features—built on the initial success—came later.
  • Groupon: It launched with a WordPress site and PDFs emailed to early subscribers. The test proved successful, and the company subsequently built its voucher system and backend.
  • Spotify: The initial product was simple desktop app, tested in a closed beta. The MVP proved to be of interest to consumers, and more features followed.

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This articles includes excerpts from the award-winning book,
Agile Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide with Step-by-Step Instructions, available in paperback and ebook formats at Amazon. For additional information on the book, visit AgileScrumGuide.com.



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"Agile Scrum" by Scott M. Graffius Wins First Place in Business at Florida Book Festival

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Scott M. Graffius of Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions™ had consulting engagements with a division of a global entertainment business. A fantastic agile transformation experience with that client was the inspiration for the book, Agile Scrum. This is an update on the book.

Agile Scrum by technology leader, project management expert, consultant, international speaker and author Scott M. Graffius won first place in Business at the 2018 Florida Book Festival. This is the sixteenth first place award for the book.

The competition was open to works from small, medium, large (including the Big Five), and independent presses as well as self-published authors. Judging was conducted by a panel of industry professionals, and placements were determined based on overall excellence. Winners will be honored at a gala on Saturday, February 24 in Orlando, Florida. Graffius is scheduled to attend and speak at the ceremony.

Agile Scrum is available in paperback ($19.95 US) and ebook ($4.95 US) formats at Amazon. For additional information on the book, visit AgileScrumGuide.com.



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Technique for Ordering the Product Backlog: Factoring Business Value and Risk

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Scrum is the most popular agile project development and delivery framework. In Scrum, the product release backlog (sometimes referred to as the product backlog) is a list of features, user stories, bugs to be fixed, and/or other requirements. The Product Owner is the ultimate holder of the backlog. The Product Owner prioritizes items, and different methods can be employed to help accomplish that work. This brief article focuses on the technique of factoring business value and risk.

Each item in the product release backlog would be rated as either high or low in two dimensions: business value and risk. It is suggested that high business value, high-risk items are worked on first. While that may seem counterintuitive, the earlier this work is done, the sooner the team will move to mitigate the issues and unknowns—leading to a higher quality product. If there's a failure, it will occur early and relatively inexpensively.

An ordering of priorities is illustrated above, and it follows:

1. High business value, high risk.
2. High business value, low risk.
3. Low business value, low risk.
4. Low business value, high risk.

Alternatively, other prioritization methods—such as the MoSCoW ranking model— may be used. MoSCoW will be highlighted in a subsequent article.

This content is an abridged excerpt from the award-winning book,
Agile Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide with Step-by-Step Instructions, available in paperback and ebook formats at Amazon. For additional information on the book, visit AgileScrumGuide.com.



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"Agile Scrum" by Scott M. Graffius — Update on 12 January 2018

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Scott M. Graffius of Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions™ had consulting engagements with a division of a global entertainment business. A fantastic agile transformation experience with that client was the inspiration for the book, Agile Scrum. This is an update on the book.

This is an overview and quick update on
Agile Scrum.

There are a variety of frameworks supporting the development of products and services, and most methodologies fall into one of two broad categories: traditional or agile. Traditional practices engage sequential development, while agile involves iterative and incremental deliverables. Organizations are increasingly embracing agile to best meet their business needs and effectively manage projects.

With clear and easy to follow step-by-step instructions,
Agile Scrum helps the reader:

• Implement and use the most popular agile framework—Scrum
• Deliver products in short cycles with rapid adaptation to change, fast time-to-market, and continuous improvement
• Support innovation and drive competitive advantage

This guide is for those interested or involved in innovation, project management, product development, software development or technology management.

• It's for those who have not yet used Scrum
• It's also for people already using Scrum, in roles such as Product Owners, Scrum Masters, Development Team members (business analysts, solution and system architects, designers, developers, testers, etc.), customers, end users, agile coaches, executives, managers, and other stakeholders

For those already using Scrum, the book can serve as a reference on practices for consideration and potential adaptation.

Reactions to the book have been incredibly positive. Honors to date include 15 first place awards in national and international competitions.

  • First Place Winner, Business-General Category, 5th Annual Beverly Hills International Book Awards
  • First Place Winner, Technology Category, 5th Annual Beverly Hills International Book Awards
  • First Place Winner, Business Category, 2016 London Book Festival
  • First Place Winner, Business Category, Fall 2016 Pinnacle Book Achievement Awards
  • First Place Winner, Informational (Business) Category, 2017 Feathered Quill Book Awards
  • First Place Winner, Technology Category, 2016 New Apple Book Awards
  • First Place Winner, Technology Category, 2017 Independent Press Award
  • First Place Winner, Technology Category, 11th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards
  • First Place Winner, Business Category, 2017 Pacific Rim Book Festival
  • First Place Winner, Green/Conscious Business Category, 2017 Bookvana Awards
  • First Place Winner, Technology Category, 2017 Book Excellence Awards
  • First Place Winner, Business Reference Category, 14th Annual Best Book Awards
  • First Place Winner, Technology Category, 2017 New York City Big Book Awards
  • First Place Winner, Science & Technology Category, 2017 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards
  • First Place Winner, Workplace Category, 2017 Human Relations Indie Book Awards

Additional awards—along with reviews and more—are located in the digital media kit at
AgileScrumGuide.com.

Agile Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide with Step-by-Step Instructions is available in paperback and ebook formats at Amazon.



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Agile Estimation Technique: Planning Cards

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Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions™ has Planning Cards as a tool to help agile teams estimate work. Excerpts of the information and instructions—which are included with each deck of the cards—follow. This article is for those interested in getting an overview.

About These Planning Cards

  • These cards are used to help estimate work
  • Each deck contains four sets of cards—enough for four estimators
  • Each of the four sets has a unique color on the front side of cards—it’s in either blue, green, orange, or yellow
  • Cards are based on the Fibonacci sequence, where every number after the first two is the sum of the two preceding numbers
  • Each set includes cards with the following values: 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, and "?"
  • Each deck comes in a storage case

Purpose

These cards and instructions support the most popular approach to estimating work in Scrum projects—estimating the complexity of work via story points.

The Development Team—which may be comprised of business analysts, coders, testers, etc.—collaboratively estimates each item in the product backlog in story points. Story points are a relative measure of complexity.

Participants

  • Product Owner
  • Development Team
  • Scrum Master (facilitator/observer)

Frequency

  • Once or twice per sprint

Time-box

  • One hour for each week of the sprint
  • It’s a common practice to limit each meeting to one hour and have multiple meetings as appropriate

Prerequisites/Inputs

  • Product backlog containing user stories, bugs, and other requirements
  • One set of planning cards for each member of the Development Team

Suggested Steps

1. If each member of the Development Team does not already have their own set of planning cards, the Scrum Master provides materials as needed

2. The Product Owner describes an item (a user story, bug, or other requirement) from the product backlog and mentions its intent and business value

3. Each member of the Development Team silently picks a card best representing their assessment of the complexity of the work and places the card face-down

4. After all of the Development Team members have made their selections, the cards are turned face-up, and the values are read aloud

5. If all of the selections have the same value, the Product Owner records it as the estimate, and that completes the exercise for the item; otherwise, proceed to the next step

6. Team member(s) who gave an outlier value —such as someone who gave a high value and/or someone who gave a low value—explain their reasoning

7. After a brief discussion, the team may take the most common value (the mode average) as the estimate or they may play another round of this planning game (steps 3-7)

8. Steps 2-7 are repeated until each item in the product backlog has been estimated

9. The Product Owner updates the product backlog with the estimate values

Options

Some organizations use a subset of the cards and slice product backlog items when the estimate is "too large." Here's an example:

  • Development Team uses cards with the following values: 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, and 21
  • Predetermined that 21 is "too large"
  • If a product backlog item is estimated at 21, it is sliced into two or more parts in collaboration with the Product Owner, and the resulting smaller items are estimated by the Development Team

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This article provided a quick overview of an aspect of estimation in agile projects. Further details—including more information on the Fibonacci sequence, and additional options—are provided in the book, Agile Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide with Step-by-Step Instructions. Agile Scrum is available in paperback and ebook formats at Amazon. For additional information, visit AgileScrumGuide.com.



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"Agile Scrum" by Scott M. Graffius Listed on 22 Best Scrum Books of All Time

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Scott M. Graffius of Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions™ had consulting engagements with a division of a global entertainment business. A fantastic agile transformation experience with that client was the inspiration for the book, Agile Scrum. This is an update on the book.

Agile Scrum
made the list, "22 Best Scrum Books of All Time" (https://bookauthority.org/books/best-scrum-books). Thank you Roy Povarchik and Book Authority!

Agile Scrum is available in digital and print at Amazon. For additional information on the book, visit AgileScrumGuide.com.



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