What is a Program Increment?

Ruben Buijs
August 10, 2023

Program Increment (PI) is a timeboxed period, typically 8-12 weeks, during which cross-functional teams work together to deliver a set of features and business value. It is a crucial element of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), a popular framework for scaling agile practices across multiple teams and projects.


Let's take an example of a software company developing a new e-commerce platform. During a Program Increment, the development teams may focus on delivering features such as a shopping cart, payment gateway integration, and user authentication. By the end of the Program Increment, these features are integrated and ready for release, providing tangible value to the end-users.


Program Increment plays a vital role in ensuring alignment and synchronization across multiple teams working on a large-scale project. It provides a structured approach to planning, executing, and delivering value incrementally. Here are a few reasons why Program Increment is important:

  1. Improved Collaboration: Program Increments foster collaboration and communication between teams, promoting a shared understanding of project goals and dependencies.
  2. Delivering Value Sooner: By breaking down work into manageable increments, Program Increments allow teams to deliver value to customers more frequently, reducing time to market.
  3. Risk Reduction: Frequent integration and feedback cycles during a Program Increment help identify and address issues early, minimizing risks and improving product quality.
  4. Visibility and Transparency: Program Increments provide a clear and visible roadmap of the project, enabling stakeholders to track progress, make informed decisions, and manage expectations.

How to Use Program Increment

To effectively use Program Increment in your product management process, consider the following steps:

  1. Define Objectives: Clearly articulate the goals and objectives for the Program Increment, ensuring they align with the overall product strategy.
  2. Prioritize Features: Identify and prioritize the features and user stories that will be part of the Program Increment based on customer needs, business value, and technical feasibility.
  3. Plan and Align: Collaboratively plan the work across teams, ensuring dependencies and constraints are identified and addressed. Align the teams around a shared vision and common goals.
  4. Execute and Iterate: During the Program Increment, teams work on their respective features, attending daily stand-ups, and participating in regular synchronization meetings to track progress, address impediments, and adjust plans if required.
  5. Demo and Evaluate: At the end of the Program Increment, conduct a demo to showcase the delivered features to stakeholders. Collect feedback, evaluate the results, and incorporate lessons learned into the subsequent Program Increments.

Useful Tips

Here are some useful tips to enhance your Program Increment practices:

  • Collaborative Planning: Encourage collaboration and involvement from all team members during the planning process to ensure a shared understanding and commitment to the goals.
  • Continuous Integration: Emphasize continuous integration and frequent integration points throughout the Program Increment to identify and resolve integration issues early.
  • Regular Communication: Establish regular communication channels and ceremonies to foster transparency, alignment, and quick decision-making.
  • Inspect and Adapt: Continuously inspect and adapt your Program Increment practices based on feedback, retrospectives, and lessons learned to improve future iterations.

Related Terms


What is a program increment?

A program increment is a timeboxed period of development in Agile product management, usually lasting 8-12 weeks, where a set of features and capabilities are delivered.

What is the purpose of a program increment?

The purpose of a program increment is to allow teams to plan, develop, and deliver a set of features and capabilities in a synchronized manner, ensuring alignment and progress towards larger business objectives.

How long does a program increment typically last?

A program increment typically lasts between 8 to 12 weeks, depending on the organization's preferences and the nature of the product being developed.

What is the difference between a program increment and a sprint?

A program increment is a higher-level timebox that encompasses multiple sprints. It focuses on delivering a set of features and capabilities, while a sprint is a shorter timebox, usually 1-4 weeks, where a specific set of tasks is completed.

Who is involved in a program increment?

A program increment involves various stakeholders, including product managers, product owners, development teams, scrum masters, and any other relevant roles required for the successful delivery of the product.

How is a program increment planned?

A program increment is planned through a collaborative effort involving product managers, product owners, and development teams. They work together to define objectives, prioritize features, estimate efforts, and create a roadmap for the program increment.

What happens at the end of a program increment?

At the end of a program increment, the teams review and demonstrate the features and capabilities developed during that period. They also conduct a retrospective to reflect on the process and identify areas for improvement in the next program increment.

How does a program increment contribute to Agile development?

A program increment contributes to Agile development by providing a structured approach to planning, developing, and delivering features in a synchronized manner. It helps teams stay aligned, adapt to changes, and continuously improve their product.

What are the benefits of using program increments?

Using program increments brings several benefits, including improved alignment between teams, better visibility of progress, enhanced collaboration, the ability to prioritize and deliver valuable features regularly, and increased adaptability to changes in market and business conditions.

Can program increments be adjusted or changed during their duration?

Yes, program increments can be adjusted or changed during their duration based on evolving priorities, feedback, or any other factors that may impact the product's development. Flexibility and adaptability are key principles in Agile product management.