Which Agile metrics are the most informative when measuring team performance and the overall success of the Agile development process? Modern organizations rely on metrics to make strategic decisions and optimize their operations.
If your business is going to utilize Agile teams, it is vital to understand the different types of Agile metrics and how they reflect upon software quality and the development process. Project managers cannot hope to manage an Agile team without understanding common Agile metrics.
This post will explain what Agile metrics are and which are the most indicative of success in your Agile development project.
What Are Agile Metrics?
Agile metrics help development and management teams measure the success of software development, the productivity of the software development team, the health of the software product, and more.
One of the critical focuses of Agile metrics is the value delivered to customers. Other key performance indicators (KPIs) measure how much or what, but Agile metrics focus more on how customers are impacted.
The driving philosophy of the Agile methodology is incremental and ongoing improvement. However, it can be challenging to know how much of an impact each incremental iteration makes on the overall success of your team’s development process and product.
This is where Agile metrics step in.
The Three Main Types of Agile Metrics
Agile project management can be tricky. There are a lot of considerations to bear in mind when evaluating the performance of Agile teams and the software they produce. Broadly, we can break Agile project metrics into three distinct categories:
- Scrum metrics
- Lean metrics
- Kanban metrics
Scrum metrics measure the predictable delivery of working software to customers. Common Agile metrics in this category include sprint burndown chart, workload distribution, and team velocity.
Lean metrics focus on delivering value to customers while eliminating wasteful activities from the process. Some of the most popular lean metrics include cycle time and lead time.
Kanban metrics prioritize workflow management and organizational effectiveness. These Agile metrics measure how well work is organized and completed. Work item age, work in progress, and cumulative flow diagram are common Kanban metrics.
You might recognize these broad categories as separate development methodologies. While Kanban, Lean, and Scrum are all development methodologies, your team does not have to follow these specific methods to find value in the Agile metrics they represent.
The Most Common Agile Metrics
There are many different Agile metrics. We won’t explain each Agile metric in this blog post, but we will take the time to explore some of the most common Agile metrics so your organization can get an understanding of what Agile metrics look like and how they can be of value to your projects.
The Agile metrics we will cover in this post include the following:
- Sprint burndown
- Team velocity
- Workload distribution
- Delivery speed
- Work item age
- Cumulative flow diagram
- Value delivery
- Team turnover
In Agile projects, work periods are called sprints. Sprint burndown measures team progress within a sprint. Sprint burndown tracks tasks completed against tasks remaining in the period.
This metric can be measured in time, story points, or number of tasks. Sprint burndown is pictorially represented as a trend line on a sprint burndown report.
Velocity is the average amount of work completed in a sprint. A team’s velocity helps project managers plan future sprints, predict milestones, and set realistic expectations for project completion.
Velocity is a valuable Agile metric because it gives organizations an overview of how much work their teams are completing on average in a given period.
Workload distribution measures how much work is assigned to each team member during a specific sprint. This Agile metric is helpful for getting a more granular view of how effective each team member is and who is doing the most work.
Just because one team member completes more tasks than another does not mean they are doing more work. Workload distribution enables managers to see who is doing what during each sprint.
How long does it take your team to complete tasks? Delivery speed measures the time it takes Agile teams to complete specific tasks, such as bug fixes, developing new features, etc.
Understanding average delivery speed is vital for managers when planning sprints and estimating completion times.
Work-in-progress shows the number of tasks that have been started but not completed. This is one of the most common and widely used Kanban metrics. Work-in-progress gives managers a detailed overview of what tasks are being worked on.
While work-in-progress doesn’t necessarily have to show which team members are working on which tasks, this information is also commonly included in the work-in-progress metric.
Work Item Age
Work item age measures the time a task has existed from initial creation to the current moment. While this metric might seem simple and basic, it is valuable to managers.
Work item age gives managers an additional metric to consider when determining how long a task or project should take to complete.
Cumulative Flow Diagram
A cumulative flow diagram illustrates completed work over time. These diagrams are similar to burndown charts, but they are represented as an upward trending line instead of a downward one.
Cumulative flow diagrams can also be used to show tasks in progress or in the backlog in addition to the tasks that have been completed. These diagrams give managers and stakeholders a comprehensive view of team performance and task performance.
Many organizations erroneously believe that value is too abstract to effectively measure, but this is wrong. Value delivery measures the value delivered to customers over time.
To accurately measure value delivery, your organization must assign value to tasks. You can use whatever type of measurement you like: points, dollars, stars, etc. As tasks are completed and delivered to customers, these values get added together.
This is an effective method of measuring how much value your team is delivering to your organization’s customers.
Team turnover measures the rate at which team members leave your organization and must be replaced. Team turnover is an important metric to measure as it is a strong indicator of team happiness.
Unhappy teams tend to perform worse as well. Beyond the time and financial resources required to hire new team members, turnover can cause disruptions in a project’s estimated timeline.
Metrics are an essential part of modern business operations. Measuring Agile metrics gives your organization a clear understanding of how your development team is performing. If you want to learn more about Agile metrics, contact an experienced app development partner like Koombea.