Are You Delivering Potentially Shippable Product Each Sprint?

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Last updated on
27th Aug, 2019
11st Apr, 2018
Are You Delivering Potentially Shippable Product Each Sprint?

By the end of each iteration, a Scrum team is expected to produce a Potentially Shippable Product. As we know Agile methodologies emphasizes on “Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation”. When we talk about working software, it is both complete and potentially shippable.

Agile methodologies emphasizes on working software which is both complete and potentially shippable due to following 3 reasons:

  • It encourages feedback
  • It helps a team gauge it’s progress
  • It allows the product to ship early if desired

In order to ensure, we are delivering a Potentially Shippable product at the end of the sprint, we must understand what potentially shippable means.

Defining Potentially Shippable

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 a short iterations.

As per Mike Cohn, "potentially shippable" and "shippable" are not the same thing. Some large or complex projects will require the use of "release sprint" or "hardening sprint" at the end of a release cycle (say 6 two-week sprints then a 2-week release sprint). The release sprint is not a dumping ground for sloppy work; rather it is a place where some hardening of the system can occur.

Let’s have a look at some of the guidelines here:
Organizations define their own ‘definition of done’ for every product and project. However, there are some guidelines that are applicable for almost all the Scrum projects in most of the organizations.

Potentially Shippable means Tested!
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 does not mean cohesive
Just because we know that the product is potentially shippable, this doesn’t mean that people wants us to actually ship it. Many times it takes 2, 3 or more sprints for a feature set to come together to be useful. However, during the Sprints leading up to that point, the team should still strive for a product to be potentially shippable.

Potentially shippable means integrated
A potentially shippable product doesn’t exist as different collections of source code. On a project, where multiple teams are working, the teams should define the statement of done such that it includes integrating development steams. So, Integration should be done continuously throughout the sprint.

Does Potentially Shippable means Shippable?
Well, when we define the ‘definition of Done’, We want it to be a Potentially Shippable product. This doesn’t mean that it has to be shippable. Whether the product needs to be shipped or not, that’s a decision taken by the Product Owners, or Business Owners. 
Hence, Potentially shippable is a state of confidence, that the product delivered at the end of the Sprint, is so Done that it’s Potentially Shippable.


Ridhi Chhabra

Blog author

Ridhi Chhabra is working in the field of Project Management from last 8 years. She is also a Certified Scrum Master (CSM). 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.
She is currently working as an Executive Assistant Project Manager at KOHLEX Design India Pvt. Ltd., It is US Based Organization which is having main headquarters in California, United States and is handling operations in Hyderabad, India.

She enjoys meeting new people, traveling and writing blogs and articles. Refer to her LinkedIn for more articles.