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Debunking 10 Common Objections to Incremental Delivery for Software Teams


Hexagon example of incremental delivery

Incremental delivery sounds a little intimidating. After all, that is four syllables in one word! What does it mean? Incremental delivery means that work is delivered in small packets of end-to-end functionality. It means that every Sprint, the Scrum team should deliver a Done, fully tested increment of valuable product.


When developers first hear about this concept, they might be a little hesitant about it. After all, Developers may be afraid that they will be asked to deliver everything in one Sprint, which is not the case. Instead, Developers deliver something of value every Sprint. (See our article What is Iterative, Incremental Delivery? The Hunt for the Perfect Example for more about how to explain Incremental delivery to your team.)


Incremental delivery is central to Scrum because many of the benefits of Agile come from this concept. However, some teams may encounter objections to this approach. In this article, we'll explore - and debunk! - ten common objections to incremental delivery.


1. Objection: "We might have to go back to module xyz in the future!"


Sisyphus and incremental delivery

Debunked: You will have to go back to module xyz in the future anyway.

Explanation: Software development is an evolving process. Changes and updates are inevitable; returning to work in every system part is normal in the development lifecycle. It's not as if once we do work in module xyz we will never come back. Instead, we will continually update the system until the product is no longer used. Incremental delivery acknowledges this reality and allows teams to adapt to changing requirements efficiently.


2. Objection: "We are already in there."


Incremental delivery aids prioritization


Explanation: Ordering work by module may lead to a lack of focus on priority. Incremental delivery encourages prioritizing tasks based on their importance, allowing teams to address high-priority items first. This ensures that valuable features are delivered sooner, providing quicker returns on investment.


Objection: "It's too time-consuming to break down tasks into small increments."


Debunked: Breaking down tasks into small increments actually saves time in the long run by reducing complexity and making it easier to identify and address issues early in the development process.

Explanation: While breaking down tasks may seem time-consuming initially, it pays off in terms of better visibility, improved collaboration, and quicker identification of potential challenges. The time spent on meticulous planning upfront results in smoother execution and faster delivery overall.


Objection: "Clients won't understand or appreciate incremental updates."


Debunked: Incremental updates provide clients with tangible progress, foster collaboration, and allow for valuable feedback, leading to a more successful end product.

Explanation: Incremental updates keep clients engaged throughout the development process, allowing them to see real progress and provide feedback. This iterative feedback loop ensures that the final product aligns closely with client expectations, ultimately leading to higher satisfaction.


Imagine that you go on a date. If you want to go on a second date, calling the person the next day is much more impactful than sending flowers six months later. The customer will understand and appreciate incremental delivery because they will be engaged with the Product and can influence future changes by providing feedback after each Increment is delivered.


Objection: "We can't accurately estimate delivery timelines with incremental delivery."


Debunked: While precise estimation is challenging, incremental delivery provides more accurate forecasting as the team gains insights from each iteration, allowing for better-informed predictions.

Explanation: Traditional project management often struggles with accurate timeline estimations. Incremental delivery allows teams to adjust timelines based on actual progress and insights gained during each iteration, leading to more reliable forecasts. Check out our article Why Predictability Matters in Scrum for more on this topic.


Objection: "Our team is not equipped to handle continuous collaboration."


Debunked: Incremental delivery fosters a culture of collaboration, enhancing communication and ensuring that the team is better equipped to handle continuous interactions.

Explanation: Collaborative environments are essential for successful incremental delivery. Incremental delivery encourages constant communication, feedback, and collaboration among team members, creating a more adaptable and responsive development process.


Objection: "There's too much overhead in managing incremental releases."


Debunked: The overhead associated with managing incremental releases is outweighed by the benefits of reduced risk, improved adaptability, and faster time-to-market.

Explanation: While managing incremental releases requires coordination and planning, the benefits—such as risk mitigation, adaptability to change, and quicker delivery—far outweigh the perceived overhead. The upfront effort pays off in terms of a smoother development process.


Objection: "Quality will be compromised with incremental updates."


Debunked: Incremental updates allow for continuous testing and quality assurance, reducing the likelihood of major defects and ensuring a higher overall product quality.

Explanation: Incremental delivery promotes a continuous testing approach, allowing teams to address issues early in development. This proactive stance enhances product quality, reduces the risk of major defects, and ensures a more robust end product.


Objection: "Our team prefers the comfort of a fixed plan."


Debunked: The comfort of a fixed plan often leads to rigidness, hindering adaptability and responsiveness to changing requirements.

Explanation: While a fixed plan may provide a sense of security, it often fails to accommodate the dynamic nature of software development. After all, how many times have you successfully planned an effort in detail six months or more in advance?? Incremental delivery offers the flexibility to adjust plans based on evolving project needs, resulting in a more responsive and successful development process.


Objection: "Incremental delivery is only suitable for small projects."


Debunked: Incremental delivery scales effectively, proving beneficial for small and large initiatives by reducing risk, enhancing collaboration, and delivering value faster.

Explanation: Incremental delivery scales very well and, in fact, has a greater impact on larger initiatives than smaller ones because teams practicing incremental delivery increase their ability to predict future value delivery.


Conclusion

Incremental delivery is a powerful approach for software teams seeking flexibility, adaptability, and earlier delivery of valuable products. By debunking common objections, I hope to do my part to help teams can confidently embrace this important concept.



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