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How long should an iteration be?

How long an iteration should be varies depending on the work being done. Expert Bas de Baar provides guidelines for determining your iterations.

We are using iterative development, but we are not sure how long an iteration should take. Can you advise?
There is no real answer to that question. Iteration is used to get feedback from the users in the early stages. With every iteration, a user has to be able to judge something new -- and it must also be worth the effort of the users. So dragging them into the office just to see a color of a button being changed is definitely not worth it. The iteration has to contain something substantial. So, you have at one side "as fast as possible" and at the other end "something substantial." Both questions provide you your ideal answer. If you view the opinions "out there," an iteration would be a minimum of one week and a maximum of one month.
This was last published in February 2007

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