The old adage “you can’t improve what you can’t measure” indicates the need to know how you know. In traditional projects, milestones and key performance indicators (KPIs) measure project progress and individual contributions to that project.
But while agile scrum defines several milestones—sprint planning, daily standup, sprint review, sprint retrospective, backlog grooming—the milestones alone don’t provide any guarantees of progress or success. However, each one allows team members to inspect and adapt how—and what—they work on.
Below are nine key metrics I’ve identified specifically for measuring the success of scrum teams for keeping sprints on track. It’s followed by a checklist of items to look out for if your team is not measuring up.
The KPIs of Agile
- strong>Actual Stories Completed vs. Committed Stories – the team’s ability to understand and predict its capabilities. To measure, compare the number of stories committed to in sprint planning with the stories identified as completed in the sprint review.
- Technical Debt Management – the known problems and issues delivered at the end of the sprint. It is usually measured by the number of bugs, but may also include deliverables such as training material, user documentation and delivery media.
- Team Velocity – the consistency of the team’s estimates from sprint to sprint. Calculate by comparing story points completed in the current sprint with points completed in the previous sprint; aim for +/- 10 percent.
- Quality Delivered to Customers – Are we building the product the customer needs? Does every sprint provide value to customers and become a potentially releasable piece of the product? It’s not necessarily a product ready to release but rather a work in progress, designed to solicit customer comments, opinions and suggestions. This can best be measured by surveying the customers and stakeholders.
- Team Enthusiasm – a major component for a successful scrum team. If teammates aren’t enthusiastic, no process or methodology will help. Measuring enthusiasm can be done by observing various sprint meetings or, the most straightforward approach, simply asking team members “Do you feel happy?” and “How motivated do you feel?”
- Retrospective Process Improvement – the scrum team’s ability to revise its development process to make it more effective and enjoyable for the next sprint. This can be measured using the count of retrospective items identified, the retrospective items the team committed to addressing and the items resolved by the end of the sprint.
- Communication – how well the team, product owner, scrum master, customers and stakeholders are conducting open and honest communications. Through observing and listening you will get indications and clues about how well everyone is communicating.
- Team’s Adherence to Scrum Rules and Engineering Practices – Although scrum doesn’t prescribe engineering practices—unlike XP—most companies define several of their own for their projects. You want to ensure that the scrum team follows the rules your company defines. This can be measured by counting the infractions that occur during each sprint.
- Team’s Understanding of Sprint Scope and Goal – a subjective measure of how well the customer, product team and development team understand and focus on the sprint stories and goal. The goal is usually aligned with the intended customer value to be delivered and is defined in the acceptance criteria of the stories. This is best determined through day-to-day contact and interaction with the team and customer feedback.
Download this chart to help your team stay on task.