A Comprehensive Guide to Increment in Scrum

Ruth Hadari
Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert
Posted on
Sep 1, 2022
Updated on
Apr 17, 2023
Table of Content

Scrum is a framework for managing product development, used in the software development industry. It allows for an incremental, iterative approach to software design and development. 

What is Scrum? Graphic explaining Scrum
The Scrum Process

This methodology has been gaining popularity as businesses have realized the benefits of an Agile approach to software development. 

A product increment in Scrum is a mandatory deliverable at the end of each sprint. A sprint is a time-boxed iteration, typically lasting two weeks, in which the scrum team develops and delivers a potentially shippable product increment. 

Each increment must be released at the end of each Sprint, regardless of whether or not it is shipped to customers. Each increment must be complete and usable and meet the quality standards set by the Scrum team

The primary goal of product increments is to ensure that the Scrum team delivers value to the customer with each sprint. 

By releasing working software at the end of each Sprint, the customer can provide feedback that can be used to improve the product. In addition, releasing working software ensures that the Scrum team is progressing towards delivering the final product.

This article will discuss the incremental and iterative development approaches used in the Scrum methodology and when different teams should employ these approaches.

What Is Incremental Development in Scrum Methodology?

Incremental development in Scrum methodology is a process in which products are developed in small, discrete pieces, allowing for frequent feedback and course corrections.

In Scrum methodology, incremental development takes the form of Sprints or time-boxed work periods during which teams aim to complete a specific set of deliverables. 

Each Sprint builds upon the previous one, adding new user-visible functionality until the product is considered "done." In Scrum, the team decides on its definition of done and sets quality standards that must be met before a product increment can be considered complete for each Sprint.

An increment in Scrum is the value that the Scrum team creates through Sprints. The team produces this increment as they work on user stories and tasks that they believe they can finish within the time allotted for the Sprint.

At the end of each Sprint, the team should have a working, potentially shippable product that meets the Sprint Goal. The increment is not just code; it also includes documentation, tests, and anything else needed to complete the product. 

Creating an increment is a collaborative effort between the development team and the Product Owner. The Product Owner provides the vision for what needs to be built, and the development team estimates how much work will be required to build it. 

Together, they decide which user stories and tasks to include in each Sprint so that the increment meets the Sprint Goal. This approach has several benefits, including reduced risk, improved collaboration, and increased customer satisfaction. 

Incremental development also makes tracking and managing progress easier, as each Sprint has a clearly defined goal. As a result, incremental development is a key part of the Scrum methodology and has helped many teams to build better products.

What Is Iterative Development in Scrum Methodology?

Iterative development is a common software development methodology in which incremental or small pieces of functionality are delivered in repeated cycles

It's opposed to traditional waterfall development, where all requirements are gathered at the beginning of the project, and a large, complete software solution is delivered immediately near the end. 

With iterative development, each new increment builds on what was delivered in the previous one. This allows for changes and feedback to be incorporated along the way, making the final product more likely to meet user needs. The Scrum methodology is one type of Agile framework that employs iterative development

In Scrum, an increment is defined as a "potentially releasable" portion of work that adds value to what was delivered in the previous increment. 

One of the primary objectives of Scrum is to deliver business value early and frequently; each increment must be able to function independently and provide value to the customer, even if it does not yet contain all of the product's features.

Sprints are the iterative cycles that occur during a Scrum process. Depending on its length, a Sprint can run anywhere from one to four weeks and is intended to deliver a particular subset of functionality. The team gets together at the beginning of each Sprint to discuss and plan out what will be delivered within that time frame.

They focus on delivering the functionality during the course of the Sprint. In addition, when the Sprint is over, the team discusses what iterative development and areas that require more development for subsequent Sprints.

This Agile development approach has proven effective for many organizations because it helps reduce risk, provides progress visibility, and allows course corrections. When done well, iterative development can help teams build better software faster and more efficiently.

When Should a Team Use Iterative Development?

A team can use iterative development when the requirements of the complete system are clearly defined and understood. In this situation, the team can create a detailed plan for the project and then execute it incrementally, adding new features and enhancements in each iteration. 

This allows for a high degree of flexibility, as the team can adjust their plans based on feedback from users or stakeholders. Another common use case for iterative development is when the major requirements are defined, but some functionalities or requested enhancements evolve over time. 

In this situation, the team can again create a detailed plan and execute it incrementally, adding new features or enhancements as they become necessary. This approach can help minimize risk and ensure that the final product meets the needs of all stakeholders.

When Should a Team Use Incremental Development?

A team can use this model when the requirements of the complete system are clearly defined and understood. Each increment builds on the previous one, adding new functionality until the product is complete.

Incremental development can also be used when there is a need to get a product to the market early or when a new technology is being used—it is important to gain feedback from users as early as possible. 

When using incremental development, it is important to ensure that each increment adds value to the product and that all stakeholders agree on the scope of work for each increment. Otherwise, the project could become bogged down and fail to deliver the expected results.


Iterative and incremental development are two approaches that can be used to build software. They are both based on the idea of delivering functionality in small, manageable pieces.

Iterative development focuses on adding new features or enhancements in each iteration, while incremental development focuses on adding new functionalities in each increment. Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages, and the best approach for a particular project depends on the specific circumstances.

When choosing between iterative and incremental development, it is important to consider the nature of the project, the risks involved, the timelines, and the needs of all stakeholders. With careful planning and execution, either approach can be used to build high-quality software efficiently and effectively.

If you want to try out incremental development for yourself, GoRetro can help ensure that your transition is smooth and successful.

About the author

Ruth Hadari
Agile Advocate, Engineering Ops Expert

Highly experienced in leading multi-organizational teams, groups, in-shore as well as off-shore. The go-to person who is able to simplify the complex. An agile advocate, experienced in all common methodologies. Responsible for the entire software development lifecycle process from development, QA, DevOps, Automation to delivery including overall planning, direction, coordination, execution, implementation, control and completion. Drives execution, and communicates on status, risks, metrics, risk-mitigation and processes across R&D.

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