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Why is potentially shippable product quality important

Agile teams work in iterations. During this period, they are supposed to work on product increments which can be “delivered” at the end of iteration. But how you know that the correct product was delivered? Many teams have different kinds of acceptance criteria and Definition of Done (DoD). But in many cases, this “done” is not the real “done” there might be some testing pending, some integration or review pending or anything else which prevents the actual use of the product increment. Many of these teams will need additional iterations to finish hardening their products. Many teams will implement different types of “gates” or approval steps to move to next stage. The free flow of product will be interrupted. They might end up doing mini waterfall within their agile process. Many don’t even realize this. This results in poor quality and requires additional effort to “harden” the product.
Potentially Shippable Product increment

The acceptance criteria and DoD should be modified to ensure that the product delivered at the end of sprint has enough quality that it can be shipped to the actual customers or beta users. This high standard will ensure that product delivered is of high quality and will not need “hardening” iterations. This will remove the ambiguity around the product delivery. These standards will force the team do better planning, better design and better execution with comparatively less effort.

If the Product Owner wishes he/she can release this increment to the customers after the iteration. In many big products Product Owners may not release the product increment immediately due to various reasons. (There are different DevOps strategies which will enable you to release the product whenever you want). Even if the Product Owner doesn’t release the product after the iteration it will be of very high quality.

In nutshell every delivery of the iteration should be of potentially shippable quality which may or may not be shipped. The goal of every team/company should be to move from potentially shippable to shippable product delivery after every iteration

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