Agile Metrics

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Metrics are technically defined as a system of measuring the activity, output, or effectiveness of a particular process.

In the business world, metrics usually involve some sort of goal or comparison. For example, a company might have a metric in place to track how much revenue they bring in each month or how many new customers they acquire each quarter.

In the software development world, there are all sorts of things that can be measured, from the number of lines of code written to the number of bugs found and fixed. But not all of these measures are equally useful for tracking progress and determining whether a project is on track. That's where Agile metrics come in.

In this article, we will shed some light on the most important Agile metrics, how they can be used to track progress, and whether these measures are actually beneficial for software development teams.

What Are Agile Metrics?

Agile metrics are those that are most relevant to measuring progress on an Agile software development project. While there are many types of Agile metrics, they all share a few common characteristics.

First, Agile metrics are typically focused on the delivery of working software. This contrasts with traditional project management metrics like the number of lines of code written or the number of requirements gathered, which may have little to do with whether the software being developed is actually any good.

Second, Agile metrics are designed to be easily understood by everyone on the project team. These metrics should be easy to collect and track, and should be presented in a clear way that also relates to other measures.

Finally, Agile metrics should be actionable. They should be able to guide decisions about what needs to be done next to keep the project on track.

The Key Performance Metrics You Should Track

One of the most important things to keep in mind when using Agile metrics is that they should be tailored to suit your specific needs and objectives. This means that you need to have a deep understanding of your business, including its goals, challenges, and priorities.

For example, if you are working on a complex piece of software that requires frequent updates and maintenance, then some of the typical Agile metrics might not be as relevant for your project. Instead, focusing on issues like ease of use, user feedback, and bug reports may be more helpful in determining how well your product is doing in terms of meeting the needs of its target audience.

Therefore, key performance indicators (KPIs) should be business-specific and relevant to the project you are working on. This means taking the time to understand your business, its goals, and the challenges it faces. It should also be measurable, so that you can track progress and show the impact of your work to stakeholders.

List of 10 Agile Metrics You Should Use

1. Sprint Burndown

Scrum teams divide project development into timed Sprints. The team estimates how much work they can complete during the Sprint at the start. The completion of work is then tracked using a Sprint burndown report.

The x-axis symbolizes time, while the y-axis shows the amount of work remaining until the finish line, represented in story points or hours. The aim is to finish all the planned tasks by the end of the Sprint.

Image Source: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Timothy-Chick/publication/266049888/figure/fig6/AS:668437126869000@1536379238248/Sample-Sprint-Burn-Down-Chart.png

A Scrum team that routinely fulfills its goals is powerful for workplace agility. But don't let this mislead you into fudging the figures by claiming an item is finished before it actually is. It may appear beneficial in the short term, but it stifles learning and progress in the long run.

Not using the Sprint burndown chart can lead to a lack of transparency surrounding the team's work. The report fosters healthy competition and collaboration, and gives stakeholders visibility into the project.

2. Velocity Chart

Another helpful metric is velocity. This tracks the number of story points completed by the team during each sprint. Tracking this over time can help you better understand your team's work patterns and identify areas for improvement.

Your goal should be to continually increase your velocity and improve your team's overall productivity so that you can deliver more value to your stakeholders.

Image Source: https://www.workfront.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/agile-velocity-chart_0.png

You will not be able to predict how much work your team can complete in future Sprints if you fail to track velocity. This can lead to unrealistic expectations and frustration on both sides.

3. Cumulative Flow Diagram

The cumulative flow diagram, or CFD, is another valuable metric for tracking the progress of an Agile project. This shows a timeline of the number of tasks at each stage of the project. The CFD provides a visual representation of bottlenecks and other issues that may be slowing down work on your project.

By identifying these problems early on, you can take steps to address them and improve overall productivity.

Image Source: https://kanbanize.com/wp-content/uploads/website-images/kanban-resources/cumulative-flow-diagram-kanbanize.png

The CFD assesses the current condition of the project. For example, you might look into why bottlenecks developed in the first place. The team may then take action to eradicate them and improve the situation.

Failure to use CFDs during an Agile project can lead to stagnation and a lack of progress. The diagram is a valuable tool for spotting issues early on and taking corrective action.

4. Net Promoter Score

Net promoter score, or NPS, is a popular metric for measuring customer satisfaction and loyalty. Using this metric can help you better understand how well your product meets the needs of its users. This can be especially useful if you are working on software that requires frequent feedback from customers or other stakeholders.

Image Source: https://giovannycifuentes.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/nps-1100x701.png

Not using the NPS can blind you to the fact that you may have unhappy customers. In addition, you won't be able to track the improvement of customer satisfaction over time.

5. Throughput

Another important Agile metric is throughput, or the amount of work completed per unit time. This can be measured in terms of story points or other units of work, and provides a valuable measure of productivity for your team.

By tracking throughput over time, you can identify patterns and trends that may be impacting the overall speed and efficiency of your project.

Image Source: https://www.business2community.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Throughput_run_chart.png

Throughput allows you to see how workflow affects company performance. You'll also have a better idea of your team's capabilities. It does not, however, display the task's beginning position.

Failure to use this metric can lead to a false understanding of your team's productivity, resulting in incorrect conclusions and actions.

6. Code Coverage

Code coverage is a metric that can be used to assess the quality of your code. It examines how much of your code has been covered by tests and can help you identify areas where additional testing may be needed.

This is especially important in software development, where code quality can directly impact the stability and security of your product.

Image Source: https://confluence.atlassian.com/bamboo/files/289276963/330171763/2/1412133380304/Bam40_Clover_plan2.png

By tracking code coverage, you can ensure that your code is being thoroughly tested, and pinpoint areas that may need more attention. This can help you avoid potential problems down the road and improve the overall quality of your product.

7. Work in Progress (WIP)

Work in progress, or WIP, is a metric that can be used to assess the efficiency of your workflow. This refers to the total number of tasks currently in progress at any given period. Tracking this over time can help you identify areas for improvement.

Image Source: https://kanbanize.com/wp-content/uploads/website-images/kanban-resources/aging-wip-chart.jpg

By tracking work in progress, you'll see how efficiently your team is working and where bottlenecks may be occurring. This allows you to take steps to improve overall productivity and address problem areas before they become major obstacles.

If you fail to use WIP as an Agile metric, you won't know whether your team's workflow is efficient or not. This can lead to several problems, including teams working at an unsustainable pace, inefficient use of resources, and poor quality end-products.

8. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

The total cost of ownership, or TCO, is a metric you can use to assess the financial impact of your project. This includes all costs associated with developing and maintaining your product, including hardware, software, licenses, support, and training.

Image Source: https://i0.wp.com/www.scrumology.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/rup.jpg

Tracking this over time can help you identify areas where cost savings can be made.

By tracking TCO, you'll have a better understanding of the financial impact of your project. This can help you decide where to allocate resources and how to best manage your budget.

Failing to track TCO can lead to overspending on your project. By monitoring this metric, you can avoid this problem and keep your project on track financially.

9. Delivery Performance

Delivery performance is a metric that can be used to estimate the overall quality of your Agile project. This refers to the speed and accuracy with which product features are delivered and can include a number of different indicators such as cycle time, defects per line of code, and velocity.

Image Source: https://kanbanize.com/wp-content/uploads/website-images/Agile/aging-wip-agile.png

By tracking delivery performance, you'll gain a better understanding of how well your team is meeting deadlines and delivering high-quality results. This can help you take steps to improve productivity and address potential problems before they become major obstacles.

If you fail to use delivery performance as an Agile metric, it will be difficult for you to gauge the quality of your project over time. By monitoring this metric, you can ensure that your project is on track and progressing toward its goals.

10. Blockers

Blockers are a key Agile metric that can measure the overall quality of your project. This refers to any internal or external factors blocking or hindering work from progressing and can include technical issues, dependencies, and resource constraints. By tracking blockers, you'll gain a deeper understanding of how and where your team may be struggling.

Image Source: https://kanbanize.com/wp-content/uploads/website-images/kanban-resources/blocker-clustering.png

One way to use blockers as an Agile metric is to identify potential problem areas before they become major issues. This allows you to take steps early on to address these concerns and prevent them from impeding progress down the road.

Additionally, monitoring blockers in real-time allows you to stay on top of issues and address them quickly when needed. Overall, using blockers effectively can help you ensure that your Agile project runs smoothly and progresses toward its goals.

Final Thoughts

Agile metrics are used to assess the overall health of your project and identify areas for improvement. By tracking these metrics over time, you'll gain a better understanding of how well your team is working and where potential problems may occur. 

There are many Agile metrics that you can use, depending on what's most important for your project. To get the most out of these metrics, it's important to ensure that they're being tracked consistently over time and that any changes are appropriately documented.

During your retrospectives, take some time to discuss which Agile metrics were most helpful in assessing the health of your project and which ones could be improved. Doing so will help you get the most out of your metrics and ensure that they're effectively supporting your Agile process.

Retrospectives are a key part of the Agile process, and GoRetro can help make yours more effective. With its powerful reporting and collaboration features, GoRetro can help you track the progress of your project over time and identify areas for improvement.

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