Product Goal

The concept of a Product Goal is new to Scrum with the 2020 update. Here are some of the key detail the new Scrum Guide gives us on the Product Goal:

  • The Product Goal describes a future state of the product and is the long-term objective for the Scrum Team.
  • The Product Backlog contains “what” will fulfill the Product Goal.
  • The Product Owner is responsible for creating the Product Goal.
  • The Scrum Team must fulfill (or abandon) one objective [Product Goal] before taking on the next.
  • The Increment is a step towards a Product Goal.
  • The Product Goal is the commitment for the Product Backlog.

That is about all that is known so far! Much more will be written about the Product Goal in the near future. It is the one significant new element in the update so is sure to be a point of focus for many Scrum practitioners.

With my cynical hat on I would say that Product Goal was added to ensure that the Product Backlog had a commitment to match those that were already established for the other 2 artifacts. The Sprint Backlog had the Sprint Goal and the Increment had the Definition of Done, so the Product Backlog needed something as well to balance things out.

The Product Goal concept aligns with the Sprint Goal concept. Teams doing complex work typically do best when working towards a common goal. So the Product Goal is extending that concept to indicate that this same benefit can also be realised for longer-lived goals that span multiple Sprints.

For me, the most controversial aspect of the Product Goal is that a Scrum Team can only work on one at a time. Whilst a good practice and sure to help Scrum Teams reach these goals sooner, I know that for many of my clients (and me) this will be difficult in practice. The Product Goal will likely be made broad and very high level as a result so that it can cover a variety of things. This may limit its usefulness as it will become too generic and lose all useful meaning. I could be wrong here and I hope I am, but let’s wait and see!

For me, the use of Product Goals will be similar in nature to the way Sprint Goals are used, but they will be larger in scope and will likely take many Sprints to achieve.

Here are some examples of Product Goals:

  • Add DevOps Institute and ICAgile to our course offering.
  • Enable automated order and checkout for Gift Cards.
  • Increase revenue to £100m in 2020.
  • Be the highest rated Gift Card app in the Finance category in the Apple App Store.
  • Launch a Scrum Guide 2020 Video Course.