What are the top metrics you recommend for measuring an Agile Team?
To help you to find a great metric to measure your agile team, we asked marketing professionals and business leaders this question for their best advice. From burndown charts to story points, there are several different metrics that may help you to measure your agile team.
Here are eight recommended metrics for measuring an agile team:
- Burndown Chart
- Incremental Delivery of Value
- Development and Sprint Velocity
- Weighted Rubric
- Work in Progress
- Team Velocity
- Team Effectiveness
- Story Points
Measuring a team is always tricky and what is measured will change over time depending on
team maturity. However, if I had to pick one metric, I would have to pick the burndown chart.
When done openly and honestly it can uncover several anti-patterns for the team and the
process. Are we planning too much work or too little? Is the work we planned in small enough
bites to avoid sharp drops? Is the team getting injects in during the sprint? Lastly, I like the
burndown because it can be scaled.
Raymond Mattes, Best Agile Consulting
Incremental Delivery of Value
The guiding measure for an agile team is the incremental delivery of value. Teams can meet this goal through the accuracy of estimates. Many elements like reducing dependencies and multiple inputs can help improve accuracy of estimate. However, breaking down the work into smaller pieces makes it easier to estimate, easier to predict effort, and easier to identify risks. Although it may take some discipline, accurate estimates also help eliminate unnecessary work to deliver value each iteration and at an optimal pace.
Caroline Jones, Western Governors University
Development and Sprint Velocity
While it isn’t a precise measurement, it is still a strong indicator of issues. If your team is dealing with issues such as distractions due to other internal commitments, it will show in the velocity. It also works the same the other way around: If your team sees an issue resolved it will show a strong uptick in velocity. Sprint points are a very rough measurement, so look for ~20% week-over-week variations before you decide something has seriously changed.
Erik Fogg, ProdPerfect
While most Agile teams assign (and bicker over) points for productivity, points are only part of your equation. Measuring quality is more important, and it can be more difficult. Our Agile content team uses a rubric to measure our writing quality against internal standards. The rubric includes scores for SEO, subject expertise, voice, and engagement. We grade a rubric for each writer for each of their 1:1 meetings with their managers, and we expect an average score of 90% across all rubrics. It took us a couple of weeks to write the rubric, but the writers have risen to the standards we set.
Tamara Scott, TechnologyAdvice
Work in Progress
In all my time working within an agile framework only one metric has proven to me to be an accurate predictor of team success: work in progress or WIP. The point of an agile team is to focus heavily on small pieces of work until they are done. As much of the team as is feasible should be focused on the same User Story until that story is accepted, then they shift to the next story. Too often teams will settle into a routine where each team member takes on a story by themselves, rather than swarming them. This makes the WIP high and when the WIP is high, so is the risk. When the entire team is working on multiple stories, it means that QA is going to be slammed at the end of the iteration and something will likely get missed.
Mark Varnas, Red9
Agile development is built on the ability of the business to weigh the ROI of certain features. They need to be able to accurately know how long it will take to deliver a feature to the users in order to reap the rewards. Of all of the metrics in agile, the one that feeds this system most is the team velocity. Based on this metric the stakeholders can determine just how much development time (and development dollars) it will take to deliver the feature before we see any benefits. If the velocity is inaccurate, all decisions are based on bad data. And any decision based on bad data is a bad decision.
Phil Strazzulla, Select Software Reviews
Whether a company is pre-launch or in a growing stage, the agile team should be working towards a single goal. How well they do so can be categorized as effectiveness. Pre-launch, the key metric is to get to market as soon as possible. Release velocity would be critical. But more than product features, it’s an alignment between research and development to ensure the right thing is being built. This is effectiveness. When you’re a product startup trying to get sales, getting users is critical. But this can’t all fall on sales. Product has to be involved as well to ideate ways to get users more engaged and help grow the network. This is effectiveness. An effective agile team is one where everyone on the team is working on things that get to a singular goal. That goal drives the product roadmap and release cycle. And like a sprint cadence, the team should have an analytics cadence to determine which sprints were the most effective and why.
We just had this conversation with our development team. What software development metric within an Agile team would best inform our shareholders about the state of our business? We arrived at Story Points as one metric to measure weekly in our team meetings. We felt that by having a weighted metric like Story Points, we could better capture elements like efficiency and productivity than if we paid attention to metrics like “lines of code written.” And, through Story Points, we could better monitor the progress of our team for the milestones that really matter.
Brett Farmiloe, Markitors
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