The current buzzword of agile growth fits like a glove with modern day’s disruptive businesses, moving ahead at breakneck speed. But gauging the triumph of a company’s endeavors in agility can be complicated and risky. This holds mostly true in the case of determination of alignment with objectives of the business. So, the questions to be addressed revolve around the method in which to ascertain whether the efforts have succeeded or failed.

How Can Metrics Help?

From projects with no data tracking whatsoever and no clue for employees to gauge the possibility of completion, to projects where statistics are weaponized to compartmentalize teams and work culture, metrics are a complicated subject. But with proper sharing and tracking of agile metrics, confusion can be eliminated and the true status of a project can be monitored all through the cycle of its development.

So How Is It Done?

Each item on the program building roadmap should come with multiple key performance indicators (KPIs) that would ultimately link to the overall goals of the program and success criteria for every product need that should map onto the agile metrics of the program.

So How to Utilize Agile Metrics for Delivery Optimization?

  1. 1. Sprint burndown

    Organizing their development into time-slotted sprints, scrum teams can forecast the work to be completed at the end of one sprint. Which means a report of such burndown will be able to track work status/completion for the duration of the sprint. Any team that consistently meets its forecast is compelling proof of company-wide agility.

    Be careful:

    If teams finish early in every sprint, it might mean that their commitment isn’t enough.

    If teams miss their forecast every time, it might mean they are too involved.

    If burndown line has steep falls, it means that the project has not been chunked into granular bits.

    Addition/change of scope in the middle of the sprint could be problematic.

  2. 2. Epic and release burndown

    Compared to the sprint burndown, epic and release burndown charts monitor the development progress of a bigger amount of work. When requirements are injected into an earlier-defined project, it is called ‘scope creep’. It is considered a bad practice to allow scope creep within a sprint, but the same during epics and versions is considered quite natural for agility. During project development, the owner modifies the scope, based on new available information. Everyone in the team is kept aware of the changes in the rhythm of work through the epic and release burndown charts.

    Be careful:

    Forecasts not updated as the team churns are not good signs.

    No progress over a series of iterations is a bad sign.

    Continuous scope creep/change might mean the owner does not properly understand the project.

    Scope growing faster than absorption by team is another bad sign.

  3. 3. Velocity

    A useful aspect to consider for forecasting and measured in hours or story points, velocity refers to the scrum team’s average amount of work completed within a sprint. It is used to forecast the speed at which the team can overcome the backlog, as the report monitors, over numerous back and forth, the work that has been forecasted and the work that has been finished.

    For new teams, there might be an increase in velocity as work procedures and relationships get optimized. For already existing teams, velocity can be tracked for assurance of reliable performance throughout. It can also track whether a change has been for the better. If a team’s processes become inefficient, then an average velocity decrease is expected.

    Watch out for:

    Erratic velocity over a long duration means the team’s estimation procedures need to be reevaluated.

    Unique velocities of different teams could mean that their estimation culture is different from each other. So, comparisons might not always work.

  4. 4. Control Chart

    The time from ‘work in progress’ to ‘work completed’, also known as cycle time of specific issues, is monitored by control charts. You can predict teams with higher productivity from their considerably shorter cycle times while you know that a team works predictably when it has reliable cycle times over multiple tasks. The objective should always be to have a short but reliable cycle time, across a variety of tasks.

    Be careful:

    Increasing cycle time translates to decrease in the agility of the team.

    Erratic cycle time should lead to retrospective examination of mistakes and effecting improvements for the future.

These were just some of the metrics that help optimize product delivery. There are others as well, measuring and monitoring rest aspects of the work process. But metrics are merely a part of the process of building a team. They provide goals that the team can aim for and offer quantitative insights into how the team has performed. But they are not all. For optimized project delivery, you need to keep a keen ear to the ground and take in the team’s feedback, both quantitative and qualitative, and finally use both to bring about necessary changes. Learn how Damco can accelerate business transformation and growth being your Agile Software Development Partner.

Related post: Managing Challenges in Offshore Product Development

About the Author

gaurav_handa

Gaurav Handa VP – Service Delivery linked-in icon

Gaurav Handa, Vice President – Service Delivery, is a path-breaking professional and business savvy enterprise architect with extensive industry experience of over 18 years. Gaurav authenticates delivery of superior business outcomes for customers while formulating and delivering state-of-the-art technology and business solutions across various domains. He has always been instrumental in driving all organization-wide initiatives and bringing business efficiencies through his expertise in project management methodologies of Agile, Scrum, Waterfall and delivery technicalities of Onsite, Offsite and Offshore model coupled with excellent hands-on experience in developing and executing complex and large projects.