Produce Planning Cards™ — A Relative Estimation Tool and Technique for Agile Teams

Scott M. Graffius is the Founder and CEO of Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions™, and the author of Agile Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide with Step-by-Step Instructions. This post shares news related to the business and the book.

Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions™ introduced Produce Planning Cards™ to help agile teams estimate work. An overview of the tool and the technique is provided in a video presented by Agile Scrum and Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions™. It's available at, and it can be played below.

Produce Planning Cards™ Help Agile Teams Estimate Work from Scott Graffius on Vimeo.

For more information on the Produce Planning Cards™, visit


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Potentially Shippable Product Increment and Minimum Viable Product Approach

Potentially Shippable Product Increment

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Scrum requires teams to build an increment of functionality during every sprint, and the increment must be potentially shippable because the Product Owner might decide to release it at the end of the sprint.

  • The product increment is the sum of all backlog items completed during the current sprint
  • Potentially shippable is defined by a state of confidence or readiness
  • Shipping is a business decision: Shipping may or may not occur at the end of the sprint (new functionality may be accumulated via multiple sprints before being shipped)

Minimum Viable Product Approach

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The product increment may or may not be marketable. However, a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) approach is sometimes used to help test marketable ideas. MVP is a product release strategy which can be used in Scrum (or another framework). The term was created by Frank Robinson, and popularized by Steve Blank, and Eric Ries.

The MVP has just those features (functional, reliable and usable) considered sufficient for it to be of value to customers, and allow for it to be shipped or sold to early adopters. Customer feedback will inform future development of the product.

Here are a few examples of then-startups use of an MVP:

  • Facebook: The first product (originally called Thefacebook) tested traction of students connecting with their college/class and posting messages. Other features—built on the initial success—came later.
  • Groupon: It launched with a WordPress site and PDFs emailed to early subscribers. The test proved successful, and the company subsequently built its voucher system and backend.
  • Spotify: The initial product was simple desktop app, tested in a closed beta. The MVP proved to be of interest to consumers, and more features followed.


This article includes excerpts from the award-winning book,
Agile Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide with Step-by-Step Instructions, available in paperback and ebook formats at Amazon. For more on the book, visit

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Product Backlog Ordering Technique: Factoring Business Value and Risk

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Scrum is the most popular agile project development and delivery framework. In Scrum, the product release backlog (sometimes referred to as the product backlog) is a list of features, user stories, bugs to be fixed, and/or other requirements. The Product Owner is the ultimate holder of the backlog. The Product Owner prioritizes items, and different methods can be employed to help accomplish that work. This brief article focuses on the technique of factoring business value and risk.

Each item in the product release backlog would be rated as either high or low in two dimensions: business value and risk. It is suggested that high business value, high-risk items are worked on first. While that may seem counterintuitive, the earlier this work is done, the sooner the team will move to mitigate the issues and unknowns—leading to a higher quality product. If there's a failure, it will occur early and relatively inexpensively.

An ordering of priorities is illustrated above, and it follows:

1. High business value, high risk.
2. High business value, low risk.
3. Low business value, low risk.
4. Low business value, high risk.

Alternatively, other prioritization methods—such as the MoSCoW ranking model— may be used. MoSCoW will be highlighted in a subsequent article.

This content is an abridged excerpt from the award-winning book,
Agile Scrum: Your Quick Start Guide with Step-by-Step Instructions, available in paperback and ebook formats at Amazon. For more on the book, visit

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