By Gilad David Maayan
According to recent reports, up to 97% of organizations are now using agile project methods to some degree. Unfortunately, not all organizations can use these methods successfully. Many teams struggle to get the full benefits that agile methodologies can provide. Agile metrics help solve this issue, by keeping teams accountable to agile standards.
In this article, you’ll learn about five agile metrics you can use to evaluate your team and projects. You’ll also learn some tips for getting the greatest benefit from your metrics.
5 Critical Agile Metrics
When measuring your projects there are many agile metrics you can choose from depending on your methodology and goals. Below are five metrics you should consider adopting to improve any project.
1. Cycle Time
Cycle time measures the amount of time your team spends on a task. It does not include the time that your tasks sit in backlog or time spent blocked. You can use cycle time to help predict sprint times and provide estimates for how quickly features can be released.
Cycle time is most useful if you use it in combination with lead time, which measures the time from task introduction to completion. Using these metrics together provides you with a full picture of tasks and can help you identify when issues are being blocked.
2. Team Morale
The team morale metric collects information from self-reported scales. Scales can include statements such as “I am proud of the work that I do for my team” or “I feel comfortable asking for help when I need it”.
Poor team morale can negatively affect your projects by reducing the productivity or sense of responsibility of your team members. To prevent this, use team morale measures to gain feedback on current team conditions. If you find that morale is low, consider setting aside time to discuss possible changes or improvements to your current processes.
3. Cumulative Flow
Cumulative flow is a visualization of the status of your tasks across sprints and epics. It shows you an overall timeline of your project and can help you identify bottlenecks in progress. You can use cumulative flow to benchmark project progress and predict future project timelines.
When viewing your cumulative flow diagram, you should see a relatively smooth flow across your project with no bubbles or gaps. If you do see issues, check if your project is suffering from scope creep or if tasks are being blocked by inefficient approval processes.
4. Created-to-Finished Ratio
The created-to-finished ratio measures the number of items in your backlog compared to those your team has finished. You can use the created-to-finished ratio to gain an idea of how well you are controlling the scope of your project. It can also show how productive your team is.
Your created-to-finished ratio should drop as your project nears completion. Lack of change can mean that you aren’t removing outdated or irrelevant issues appropriately. If your backlog continues to grow, it could point to scope creep or poor feature descriptions.
5. Story Throughput
Story is the agile term that refers to features. Story throughput measures the number of stories your team finishes in a sprint. It counts stories as your team finishes, not stories in progress. You can use story throughput to predict the time to project completion and plan for realistic sprint goals.
Story throughput is most useful when all stories are similar in size and complexity. If you have a variety of story types, consider breaking down this metric by type. In general, small stories are more granular and enable your team to work more efficiently.
Using Metrics Responsibly
The following tips can help you ensure that you are using your metrics responsibly and effectively:
You may find it challenging to collect metrics data, but the effort is worth it so long as you choose your metrics carefully. Make sure to choose measures that you can collect reliably and efficiently.
Any metrics you select should add obvious value to your processes and not require excessive effort. It is also important to choose complementary measures. Individual metrics cannot provide a reliable or very informative view of your workflows or issues.
Take time to ensure that you are measuring metrics data accurately. Inaccurate or incomplete data is less representative and can lead you to make the wrong conclusions. Automating data collection can help increase accuracy and reduce effort.
Additionally, your team is likely already tracking their progress and efforts through project tracking tools. Use logs and reports from these tools to gain metrics data.
When evaluating your metrics data, make sure you use it objectively. Your whole team should be involved in interpreting and reviewing metrics at each retrospective.
Team review ensures that metrics aren’t misinterpreted and that these measures are used for improvement, not punishment. If metrics data is used only to pressure your team, your project quality is likely to drop as members struggle to meet unrealistic goals.
Use the metrics you collect to create baselines for your projects and teams. Baselines give you a measure to benchmark projects against and make it easier to detect trends and identify issues.
Make sure that you are defining baselines with projects of similar value and complexity. Using data from dissimilar projects creates unrealistic goals and can cause your teams to under or overwork during sprints and epics. Epics are your larger project releases or versions.
Metrics can help you identify issues in your processes and can provide valuable feedback. However, these measures are only useful if you use metrics carefully and openly. Keeping your metrics collection transparent help encourage team engagement and collaboration. It can also provide you with access to insights that you might otherwise overlook.
Hopefully, this article introduced you to five metrics that are useful for improving your projects and processes. Consider implementing these metrics, along with the tips provided for using metrics responsibly. With a little time and effort, you should be able to identify any issues your team is facing and develop a plan for improvement.