Usable, Useful & Valuable
In the 2020 version of the Scrum Guide, the Developers as one of the accountabilities in Scrum is defined as set of people that are committed to creating any aspect of a usable increment each Sprint.
In the same version of the Scrum Guide, it is mentioned that the Scrum Team is accountable for creating a valuable, useful Increment every Sprint.
A number of people have asked me if Usable, Valuable and Useful could be used interchangeably within the context of Scrum and this is my attempt to document my understanding.
Useful, Usable and Valuable should not be used interchangeably as they do NOT share the same meaning.
For a product to be useful, it must be usable; and for a product to be valuable, it must be useful.
For a product, A usable product is one that is fit for use and there is a closely associated measure for Usability known as “Ease of Use”.
On a mobile phone, a browser can referred to be “Usable” because a user can minimise the browser using a gestures such as the swipe. If the browser is missing such a feature, then this could referred as a defect and in effect the browser is not usable. (Note: This is debatable, as a user could still browse but just not able to do anything else.)
The “Definition of Done” which is a commitment for an Increment should include statement that ensure that the Developers are able to produce a Usable Increment each Sprint.
Usefulness means to “find a use” for a feature or product. Referring to the example above for a mobile phone, minimising a window is the “Usability” allows a user to switch between multiple windows on their phone.
The usability part is “ability to minimise a browser” and this is useful for “switching between different browsers”.
I cannot imagine how a product can be Useful without being Usable, hence the reason I belive that for a product to be Useful, it must be usable.
There many facets to defining Value but for the purpose of the article, I would like to focus more on Value from the point of View of a Customer. In the mobile browser example, the Value could be that the ability to switch between multiple browser windows helps to increase efficiency and saves users’ time.
Lets consider another example - WhatsApp
Whatapps is an instant messaging tool that we all use.
Whatsapp is Usable because we can launch and use all the feature in the application.
Its usefulness come from the users ability to send text, audio and video to their contacts but the Value could be that it helps users to stay connected to their loved ones.
Within the context of Scrum, Value is the ultimate that the Scrum Team and its stakeholders works to deliver consistently at the end of the each sprint.