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Why the Definition of the Minimum Marketable Feature Is as Important as the Definition of Done

A new artifact of the product backlog

28 August 2014

Jaya Shrivastava
AGILE++ Engineering

Even before anyone starts thinking that I'm degrading the importance of the Definition of Done, let me assure you that this is not the case.

During any sprint planning and demo, the Definition of Done is treated as sacrosanct. Everybody in the Agile world tends to agree with the fact that the Definition of Done is highly important and that, without it, sprint planning can't be completed.

No doubt, the Definition of Done is important. Somehow, though, in sprint planning, the larger picture of the "Minimum Marketable Feature" is absolutely missing. In fact, it is not even one of the Scrum artifacts.

To explain why a definition of the Minimum Marketable Feature is important, I'd like to take an example that I've presented in an article titled A Real-Life Example of Agile on this website.

In this example, I've explained how iterative delivery is important but that, at the same time, we also need to think about whether the iterative delivery is contributing to something that customers can use. The flyover in the cited article can be delivered iteratively without completing the one-way traffic path first.

The definition of the Minimum Marketable Feature will provide the blueprint for something that can be used by our sprint teams to pick up backlog items. An iterative delivery that doesn't lead to a Minimum Marketable Feature is simply a waste, as it cannot be used by anyone and no feedback can be obtained.

In my opinion, a definition of what constitutes a Minimum Marketable Feature should be defined with the product backlog, and all iterative increments should be aligned toward achieving it.

I'm steering my clients toward defining their Minimum Marketable Features, and they seem to like the idea.

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

Article Rating

Current rating: 2 (1 ratings)


Zach Bonaker, CSP,CSM,CSPO, 8/28/2014 10:44:25 AM
I'm confused by your article!

You said: "An iterative delivery that doesn't lead to a Minimum Marketable Feature is simply a waste, as it cannot be used by anyone and no feedback can be obtained."

I get the feeling that you're creating another acronym for something that is already a principle of Agile: value-driven delivery of software.

A team developing stories that result in software that cannot be used or have utility isn't a fault of a missing "definition of minimum marketable feature." It's due to a poor backlog, likely the result of failed Agile practices upstream from where the Team actually planned the sprint.

After all, isn't this new term just INVEST re-branded?
Tim Baffa, CSM, 9/2/2014 3:07:14 PM
I am a very strong promoter of the need for a Definition of Ready and Definition of Done to guide Agile work efforts in an iterative fashion.

I agree that the concept of MVP is important, and we can debate whether it is more important than DoR or DoD, but I am curious what criteria you would use for supporting a definition of Minimum Viable Product?

And to Zach's point, if INVEST is part of your DoR, then each story must provide value to the business or it does not satisfy the Definition of Ready.
Jaya Shrivastava, CSP,CSM,CSPO, 9/3/2014 6:10:39 AM
@Zach Bonake

No, I am not defining a new acronym for anything existing but adding something which is missing in SCRUM artifact.

Yes, every iteration produces something valuable but does customers use it ?

In practical world, the answer is big NO. Customers are not willing to either allocate resource to test or release whatever is produced at the end of the sprints.

Instead, customers are willing to take increments which they think can be released to the marker.

This is missing as we don't work towards releasing a Minimum Marketable Feature.
Jaya Shrivastava, CSP,CSM,CSPO, 9/3/2014 6:13:43 AM
@Tim Baffa

we need to discuss with customers to decide what is minimum marketable feature. Scrum teams and even product owners are not capable of doing this.
Prabhulinga M, CSM, 9/9/2014 12:08:09 AM
What if you change your iteration duration so that you can fit in "Minimum Marketable Feature" in it.
I like the term used , Minimum marketable feature, as it gives clarity, and I also agree with Zach and Tim, as it is defined with different terminologies.
Chandrasekaran Janakiraman, CSM, 11/21/2014 12:59:45 AM
I would concur to Zach's point. Isnt the ranked product backlog representing the minimum marketable features...? If it is not represented in the backlog, then what is the groomed product backlog truly trying to achieve?

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