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5 Metrics That Amp Up Agile Team Productivity

Aakash Gupta

Agile team metrics let you extract the right skills in time for the right projects.

As more companies are jumping aboard the agile bandwagon, keeping team morale at an all-time high is critical. Agile team metrics let you extract the right skills in time for the right projects.

Projects carry varying degrees of value to different stakeholders, based on their vested interests and the outcomes they hope to get out of it. From the project manager responsible for planning and strategizing a project’s execution to the team whose efforts are tied to the final product delivery, we need to entrust high-profile projects to the right people. After all, you have a symbiotic relationship to consider: the people creating the end-product and the end-user benefiting from its creation

With expectations riding high on several promising opportunities, you can’t afford costly mistakes arising from projects falling into the wrong hands. Besides creating inefficiencies that hinder the learning curve, managing your resources through unscientific means bore holes into the bottom line. 

This is why agility gets preference over the more inflexible traditional approaches used in the past. The project management brethren would attest to the fact that once teams feel closely involved in the strategic decision making arc rather than just be assigned work mechanically, they’d be better poised to support one another and recycle project knowledge organically. Agile metrics quantify human capital investments while keeping your team’s learning journey clear of obstacles.

Critical Metrics For Team Agility

1. Planned-to-Done Ratios 

This ratio compares the percentage of tasks delivered as per specific guidelines. While customer-centricity emphasizes on building the right product at the right time for the right market, knowing how much your teams were able to accomplish successfully against the list of planned tasks gets you accurate insights on both your current resources and their capabilities. Moreover it gives you an overview of the complexities, casting a shadow over tasks in terms of time, scope and budgeting constraints, thus helping you identify the ones that overran original estimates. 

An additional bonus to this ratio is that you can instantly know if your talent management processes need closer inspection. You can then update your skills inventory after identifying if your staff are using irrelevant bodies of knowledge or working with outdated skills. Once you acquire the appropriate hands before a project commences,you’ll avoid overworking existing staff who’re inadequately prepared for the onslaught. What’s more, you’ll take the right skills off the bench and deploy them directly on to the right projects, thereby ensuring that your teams are optimally utilized. 

2. Escaped Defects 

If your goal is to find and fix bugs before your customers do in the release environment, the escaped defects curve lets you contain 90 percent of the bugs pre-production. 

The first step to measuring defects is to consolidate all faults identified. Once you have an accurate count of the bugs you’ll categorize the extent of risk. For this to happen, your team members should follow protocol to report problem areas at the earliest so that they can be escalated via appropriate channels. Your teams would then spend lesser time on finding and fixing errors when production’s in full swing. They can minimize the chances of the errors changing the longevity of the finished product and how it would look or function. 

A low escaped defects ratio lets you establish a direct link between their efficiency and customer satisfaction. For example, if 9 out of 10 tasks are delivered on time that fulfils client expectations, your success rate is 90 percent.

3. Actual versus Committed Stories 

User stories is the step that documents points gathered during the requirements analysis stage. This is where client briefs are represented digitally to begin task prioritization and sequencing. Teams get clarification on their work packages. The measure itemizes the number of stories committed to in the sprint planning and assesses how many of them are marked as completed. 

Your staff can then divide their focus on different aspects of the same user story and work on it in parallel rather than in sequential blocks. For example, if you’re building a flight ticketing system, the development team can create user stories capturing bookings, cancellations, refunds, date changes and points based mileage. Each member can estimate their efforts by profiling the project on those aspects that are easy to recreate by simply rewriting code where applicable. This move ensures a closer match between the user stories that were committed versus what gets done. 

4. Accelerating Team Velocity 

Acceleration is the simplest metric that uses data relevance to monitor project health continuously. Measuring team velocity via velocity charts lets you know how different sized teams are faring in individual sprints. 

The first step to accelerating your teams’ velocity is to create points that estimate the work in each iteration. Measuring team performances is akin to comparing snowflakes, i.e. no two are alike owing to the fact that points conceived based on their line of work. New velocities can be estimated from the initial velocities.  For example, a team of developers would measure the time taken to use a new skill while the operations team would factor in the time taken to learn the skill in the form of appropriate training programs. 

To calculate the velocity, estimates of all features have to be added up, along with user stories and product backlog items which can be drawn back to the requirements gathered. 

Acceleration Formula:  (new velocity-initial velocity)/initial velocity 

Given the ease of the calculation, you can plan future iterations by adjusting velocities by team size. Lastly, you can monetize performances to estimate cost savings through process improvement. For example, if you’re spending $50,000 per iteration and your acceleration is 5 percent, you save $2,500 per iteration. 

5. Cycle Time 

The golden rule of agility is to have your teams work on tasks that fit into iterative sprints. As such, with each iteration not lasting longer than two weeks, your teams can downsize their work packages to fit into this window, regardless of how large a component is being worked on. This gives them optimal work to perform without cramming in tasks that are intrinsically complex and time consuming. 

Shorter cycles within individual sprints ensures that everyone on the team is aware of short and long-term targets. Subsequently, there’s no lapse in productivity down the chain. With deadlines approaching sooner, a shorter cycle time lets your team get more work done. This is because complacency settles in with extended timelines. Teams forget to prioritize pending tasks and end up underestimating their criticality. As a result, the wrong things are measured without an overview of the project’s priority log. 

The above team metrics measure outcomes rather than output. This ensures that there’s a takeaway for each team member that lets them upskill, improvise and enhance their efficiency. Metrics push for change through open communication which lets you know if your teams are satisfied with the way things are running and what can be done to amp up productivity without being over or underloaded.

Image Credit: NicoElNino/Shutterstock
Aakash Gupta
Community Member
I’m Aakash Gupta, Head Business Consultant at Saviom. Over the last 5 years, I’ve used a combination of practical experience and field knowledge to help several MNC’s practice smart resource management strategies. I enjoy exchanging thoughts with domain experts such as yourself and look forward to working with you on future projects.