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What is an Increment?

Smartpedia: An increment is a potentially deliverable result of a Scrum Sprint or a functional increase in incremental software development.

Incrementally expand the scope of delivery step by step

The term “Increment” comes from Latin and has the meaning of ” increase”. Applied to incremental software development, this implies that a system is planned as a whole, but implemented in parts. The scope and/or the number of functions grows per Increment.

The Scrum Increment

There are also Increments in agile software, product and service development; in Scrum, for example, an Increment is the expected, potentially deliverable result of a sprint. The Scrum Guide defines an Increment as “a concrete stepping stone toward the Product Goal. Each Increment is additive to all priors and thoroughly verified, ensuring that all Increments work together. In order to provide value, it must be usable”.

The scope of the Increment is defined by the Sprint Backlog to which the developers commit themselves in the Sprint Planning. To release an Increment, the Definition of Done must be checked. Potentially deliverable means that the software – as defined – works and could be delivered to customers or users.

In practice, however, not every Increment of a Sprint is delivered. Releases, i.e. the results of several Sprints, are usually made available to customers and marketed and distributed accordingly by Marketing and Sales. Interestingly, according to the current Scrum Guide, the Scrum team can – at least theoretically – make more than one increment per sprint.

Incremental system development in V-Modell XT

The V-Modell XT as a German standard for the planning and implementation of system development projects, which is used in companies, authorities and in the military sector, defines an incremental system development. This addresses not only new developments, but also the advancement and migration of old systems. It can be used if the requirements for the system to be created / further developed are relatively stable and the technological risks are low. The use of finished products is then also possible.


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Impulse to discuss:

In the Scrum Guide there is the following passage: “However, an increment could also be delivered to the stakeholders before the end of the sprint”. Why do many organisations still believe that there can only be one increment per sprint?


In addition to software development, the term is also used in economics as a fixed, minimum increase of bids in auctions, in plotting as a fixed stride of the drawing head and in chess as a time bonus per move. In computer science, increments and decrements correspond to operators that lead to increases and decreases in value through individual commands; in addition, a distinction is made here between pre- and post-increments.

Here you can find a German video about iterative and incremental software development.

Here you can find a German podcast about incremental development in Scrum.

Here you will find additional information from our Smartpedia section:

Smartpedia: How does Sprint Planning work?

How does Sprint Planning work?

Smartpedia: What is a Definition of Done?

What is a Definition of Done?