Let us understand the basic challenges faced when creating a Done Increment. But before that, let me give you an overview of the terms involved.
Since you are already looking for challenges in creating an Increment, you must already know that Scrum is an Agile framework that focuses on providing us with a better way of building products. It helps in addressing complex problems by creatively looking at different, efficient solutions and choosing the one with the highest possible benefit.
What exactly is an Increment in Scrum?
An Increment is nothing but a concrete stepping stone that must be climbed to reach a common product goal. This implies that there can be multiple Increments within a Sprint and each Increment is additive to the prior Increments, ensuring that all the Increments work together and are thoroughly verified. The value proposition can be made only if the Increment is indeed usable.
Sprint – A repeatable fixed time-box, during which a ‘done’ product is created consisting of the highest possible value, is called a Scrum Sprint. It lies at the core of the Agile methodology which also tends to wrap up all other Scrum Events like Sprint Review, Daily Scrums, and Sprint Retrospective.
Work cannot be considered as a part of an Increment if it does not meet the definition of Done.
We are now ready to look at the challenges faced while creating a done Increment, here it goes-
1. Lack of Team Ownership
When the members of a team start focusing and prioritizing on their individual goals rather than looking at the common goal, problems are bound to arrive. This happens when individuals feel that they are responsible for only getting their Product Backlog item done, which is not the case. The whole team is responsible and accountable to create a done Increment by the end of the Sprint.
Just because Product Backlog items in the Sprint Backlog are carried over to the next Sprint doesn’t mean that the members will only be responsible for that. Having a lot of work in progress (WIP) inventory is a common sign of a lack of team ownership amongst the members. The actual focus must lie on the final outcome (and its quality) of the Sprint for better results and hence a sense of team ownership.
2. Lack of Collaboration
Again, when the members focus on their individual Product Backlog without collaborating with the other team members, there might arise issues related to inefficiency and non-completion of work. To enable the most creative and analytical solution to the given problem, it is imperative that people not only coordinate their approaches and code but also collaborate to get a done Increment. In this case, assembling and integrating different pieces of the work will be easier and more effective.
Collaboration is even needed to prevent the individual designs from conflicting with each other and form a complete, coordinated work. A lot of work in progress (WIP) inventory again disrupts the flow of information and causes a lack of collaboration as each individual member is focusing on a different problem at a given point in time. Hence, it is useful to collaborate and work together on a particular piece of functionality at a time.
3. Lack of a clear Sprint Goal
A Sprint Goal is put in place to provide focus and direction to the team. It is a measurable objective that needs to be achieved within a Sprint and includes other instructions as well. A clear Sprint Goal provides the flexibility of operations and makes the work stress-free.
A Sprint Goal is generally created through a series of negotiations between the Product Owner and the Developers so both are clear about the final objective and their required contribution to the product solution. This not only provides the team with a broad picture but helps keep the members in the loop with the next steps that are to be undertaken. This helps reduce conflicts related to immediate matters at hand and arguments about what to work on next. Most teams do have a Sprint Goal, the real challenge is to ensure that it is clear, concise, and understandable by all the members of the team.
4. Lack of consistency
As already mentioned, having a clear Sprint Goal is a necessity so that all the members can consistently focus on one big picture at a time. When we start the Sprint process, we do not have all the necessary requirements to assume the final results, hence, this is an iterative process that involves constant monitoring and focus to achieve the desired outcome.
While building an Increment, team members might have different views or opinions about a particular Product Backlog item and this can be a barrier to smooth functioning, so we need to ensure that the goals are set and clear from the very start. We also need to ensure focus and flexibility while carrying out Sprint operations. This also involves that the members are not being assigned extra work or work from different managers outside the Development team. Hence, consistency is a must while trying to build a Done Increment.
5. Lack of improvements
Creating a lot of product features in a done Increment is attractive but it is only effective if sufficient steps are also undertaken to implement improvements in the existing ones. While working, we may face technical issues or process impediments that will hamper the speed of the work as a whole and even cause blockages while creating a Done Increment. Hence, removing impediments can help improve workflow and even result in a higher quality of products due to their improved delivery.
Constant improvements will help keep the environment stable, hence enhancing focus. Automation is another such technique that can be used for faster delivery of work with greater ease. If the team has the required knowledge and tools to implement automation, this should be the first step they should undertake for greater efficiency.
These are the general challenges involved in creating a Done Increment. Now that we are aware of them, it will be comparatively easy for us if we find the solution to tackle them.
1.Encouraging team ownership
To make members of a team feel more connected and to increase a sense of belongingness amongst them, regular meetings can be initiated. They can be encouraged to look at the bigger picture and focus more on how their individual acts as important as a whole.
2. Promoting collaborative efforts
Collaboration is a must for achieving successful outcomes. Hence, we should promote collaborative efforts and even reward individuals who are focusing on them. Individual issues can be addressed in a timely manner so the members are well coordinated with each other.
3. Setting up a clear Sprint Goal
The importance of this cannot be stressed enough. As all our actions are directed towards a goal, having a clear goal is necessary. It must be communicated to all the members before starting the project to remove all ambiguity.
4. Encouraging consistency
Members should be given the liberty to focus on one work at a time. Handling different tasks simultaneously not only harms the quality of the product but makes him/her inefficient. It also provides a way for loopholes (stating that they were performing another task when in reality they were not)!
5. Focusing on improvements
Having a well-functioning system speeds up the entire Sprint process. Hence, improvements should be made on a regular basis to ensure the efficiency of the tools.
Hope this article made you aware of the main problems in creating a done Increment and the ways to tackle them. Do let us know if you are facing any of the above challenges and don’t forget to use the methods to tackle them!