Four Easy To Adopt Agile Metrics for Teams Just Getting Started

Using metrics to track agile team performance can be an important tool to reinforce the need for continuous improvement. Metrics can serve as valuable input during retrospectives, the daily standup, and sprint planning allowing teams to continuously adapt their practices and performance based on the observed patterns the metrics reveal. In our experience, many new agile leads and teams are not sure which agile metrics would be the best metrics to begin using. Some teams may be tracking various data points, but lack the skill and understanding of what the metrics are actually revealing and how the teams can use this information to self-improve.

Our presentation/workshop introduces four "light-weight" agile metrics any team can easily adopt and begin using immediately. They are: Velocity, Comitted vs. Done, Sprint Build-up (Burn-up), & Cycle Time.

We introduce each of these metrics and explain what each one measures, how to obtain the data, and when it should be updated. But most importantly, our presentation provides a workshop component where we provide sample scenarios for each metric. These scenarios represent possible real-life data patterns teams could experience. In the workshop, we ask the audience to work in small groups to consider what each scenario may be representing and what they would do, in the spirit of continuous improvement, to respond to these patterns. We also discuss with the audience how to use the metrics in tandem to help provide a more robust interpretation of team performance.

We realize there are many agile metrics teams can adopt. However, for teams just starting out we recommend these easy to use yet powerful metrics to help teams monitor and assess team performance.

 
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Outline/structure of the Session

PRE-SESSION
Room Set Up:

  • Tables (or desks pushed together) to allow participants to sit in small groups (up to 8)
  • Extra paper & pens available at each table
  • Ideally the room has a projector (Session can be presented w/out a projector, as long as there’s wall space available to hang posters)

SESSION
Presentation Introductions

  • Presenters – quick intros
  • Attendees – couple quick polls to gauge level of experience in the room

Presentation Goals

  • Provide new Agile team leads with (or those working with new Agile teams) with a four very light-weight and team-centric metrics that can be used to help drive continuous improvement
  • Practice interpreting common trends & discuss how might be used to spur discussion w/in team
    • *Note: These metrics are primarily geared towards team using iterations, however the last metric would also apply to flow-based teams

Presentation/Whole Group Discussion: Why Are Metrics Valuable?

  • Ask participants a couple of questions about how their teams are currently using metrics
  • Discuss how agile metrics are different than “traditional” metrics
  • Discuss how metrics provide feedback based on real data & provide input for the team to continuously improve

Presentation "Where to Start? Four Recommendations

  • Four recommendations: Velocity, Committed vs. Done, Sprint Build-Up (Burn-Up), Median Cycle Time
  • Why these metrics?: Easy to create, easy to understand, easy to interpret

Presentation What We'll Cover

  • What it measures, why it was selected, how to obtain the data, when to update the data, how to read & interpret the metrics

Presentation Velocity - Review

  • Poll: How many people use this metric with their team right now?
  • What it measures: Total number of story points completed in a sprint.
  • Why selected: Indicator of how much a team can commit to in the next sprint. Leading indicator of trend for future sprints
  • How to get the data: Observation
  • When to update: At the end of each Sprint
    • *Important Note: Velocity should NOT be compared across teams

Small Group Breakouts Velocity - Practice: In your small group, for the 3 sample velocity graphs, discuss what the data might be reflecting & how you & the team would use this info

  • Share back observations with the larger group
  • Examples include: Stories not finishing inside the sprint and overflowing to the next sprint, impact of vacations, holidays, single points of failure, dependencies, storming phase

Presentation Committed vs. Done - Review

  • Poll: How many people use this metric with their team right now?
  • What it measures: # of stories committed to at Sprint Planning vs Number of stories DONE at the end of the Sprint.
  • Why selected: Helps the team to avoid setting false expectations as to the capacity to deliver;
  • Prompts the team to uncover the root cause of delays in closing stories.
  • How to get the data: Observation
  • When to update: At the end of each Sprint

Small Group Breakouts Comitted vs. Done - Practice

  • In your small group, for the 3 sample Committed vs. Done graphs, discuss what the data might be reflecting & how you & the team would use this info
  • Share back observations with the larger group
  • Examples include: Regularly over committing, team gets conservative after over committing, team has plateaued in terms of productivity (time for continuous improvement)

Presentation Sprint Build-Up - Review

  • Poll: How many people use this metric with their team right now?

What it measures: Scope changes in the sprint on a daily basis & story points completed in the sprint on a daily basis.

  • Why selected: Helps the team see when stories are closing and identify trends; Insight into scope volatility within the sprint.
  • How to get the data: Observation of the task board
  • When to update: Every day of the Sprint

Small Group Breakouts Sprint Build-Up - Practice

  • In your small group, for the 3 sample Sprint Build-Up graphs, discuss what the data might be reflecting & how you & the team would use this info
  • Share back observations with the larger group
  • Examples include: Stories not done until last day of Sprint, lack of focus (lots of changes during Sprint), new stories being added, stories from previous sprints are being carried over & closed early in next sprint, stories being re-opened.

Presentation Cycle Time - Review

  • Poll: How many people use this metric with their team right now?
  • What it measures: Time elapsed (in days) between the start of development on a story and when the story is Done.
  • Why selected: Provides visibility into how long Stories are sitting in progress; allows team to identify trends & measure improvement in reducing cycle time.
  • How to get the data: Observation of the task board (note start & close dates on story cards)
  • When to update: At the end of each Sprint

Small Group Breakouts Median Cycle Time - Practice

  • In your small group, for the 3 sample Median Cycle Time graphs, discuss what the data might be reflecting & how you & the team would use this info
  • Share back observations with the larger group
  • Examples include: Story sizes not actually very different, cycle time increasing/decreasing, unknown requiremenrs, small number of data points

Learning Outcome

The learning outcome is two-fold: First, participants will be introduced to four “light-weight” easy to implement agile metrics that can help teams monitor their progress. We introduce these metrics by explaining what each one is, how to obtain the metrics, and when it’s most ideal to update them. We have two underlying themes we continuously stress through this portion: 1) the metrics are tools for the team to be used in the in the spirit of continuous improvement – not just something for upper management or the agile team lead to use to “check in” on the team. 2) as tools, the findings/interpretations gleaned from the metrics should be used as input for team retrospectives, sprint planning, release planning, etc.

Once the metrics have been introduced and discussed, the second learning outcome involves a workshop session where the audience is presented with several agile metric scenarios and asked for their interpretations of the data patterns they see and possible reasons why the data points look the way they do. We then facilitate a discussion around the actions they would take within their own teams to make adjustments based on the interpreted data. For example, we may show a daily burn-up scenario that depicts a flat line which then spikes up quickly at the end of the sprint. We ask the audience to explain what they see (team is waiting until the end to close stories), what the reasons may be as to why this is occurring (working on too many stories at one time), and what they could suggest doing to avoid the pattern repeating (minimize WIP, make stories smaller, swarm on stories, etc.). We have several scenarios for each of the four agile metrics we present.

Target Audience

Agile Team Leads, Scrum Masters, and anyone interested in monitoring agile team performance and (most importantly) those who want to discuss how to interpret observed data to make adjustments to team behaviors, norms, and processes.

schedule Submitted 3 years ago

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