“What are the metrics by which you measure your agile development process?” 

This question on Quora caught our attention. 

That got us thinking. This is a question that many organizations are looking for far and beyond in search of answers to.

For this reason, we have written a comprehensive guide on the meaning of agile metrics, types, selecting the right metrics, and much more. 

We shall get to the central theme of the blog post but not before learning the fundamentals of Agile metrics. 

Here we go!

What are Agile Metrics or useful metrics in agile software development?

Agile Metrics are standards of measurement that help businesses measure productivity, development process, work quality, predictability, and quality of products produced.

Agile metrics focus mainly on the value delivered to customers. 

There are 3 types of Agile metrics. Each one has its unique function. 

Types of Agile Metrics-

  • Metrics used in Scrum: Scrum metrics focus on the predictable delivery of the product to the end-user. 
  • Metrics used in Kanban: Kanban metrics focus on workflow, organizing, prioritizing tasks, and completing them.
  • Metrics in Lean Management: Lean metrics focus on keeping the value flow intact from the business to the customers and removing unproductive activities.

You might be interested in reading: The Definitive Guide to What Is Agile and Scrum

Different Types of Agile Metrics

Agile metrics are umpteen, but only a few would be relevant to your business. What might work for one business might not work for others. Here are 10 Agile metrics and their definition. Let’s take a look at them brick by brick.

1. Sprint Burndown: The Sprint Burndown chart shows the number of story points completed during the sprint and how many are pending. It helps in forecasting if the sprint is completed on time. This metric gives a clear picture of the sprint progress and the value delivered to the customers.

2. Epic and Release Burndown: If you think Epic and Release Burndown have something in common with Sprint Burndown, then you’re right. Although, it has one difference.

Epic and Release Burndown tracks progress for larger projects. It is a chart depicting a graphical representation of the work pending over a specific time.

Epics are bigger blocks where stories are split into smaller parts. A sprint has a series of epics and versions. Tracking them along the sprint is vital. Epic and Release burndown takes care of that with ease.

The end of work diminishes the number of stories till it becomes zero. This is useful when working to achieve milestones. In addition, release Burndown tracks work proposed to complete for a particular release.

This metric helps notify teams of prompt delivery of products or informing them of the change of delivery dates.

3. Velocity: Velocity is an agile metric that refers to the average amount of work a team can finish during a sprint. It is measured in story hours or points and is helpful in forecasting. How is this beneficial? Product Owners or, in some cases, Project Managers can use this metric to find the time needed for the team to finish all the backlogs.

4. Control Chart: Control Chart projects the time cycle of tasks from the “in progress” phase to the “end phase.” Short time cycles mean great output, and teams that have constant short time cycles mean foreseeable work delivery. Assessing the cycle times is a way to gauge the work processes and improve them. The shorter the cycle, the better it is.

5. Lead Time: Lead Time measures the total time beginning from the moment a story enters the backlog until it is completed or launched for customers.
It estimates the total speed of your value chain.

6. Cumulative Workflow: Cumulative Workflow is a metric that ensures that teams are delivering value continuously.
A Kanban metric shows the number of issues that the team is working on. In addition, it shows the status of tasks such as backlog, in-progress, in-review, and done.

It can detect bottlenecks in the process when many tasks in the workflow experience a problem.

7. Cycle Time: Cycle time is a metric that measures productivity. It measures the time taken from start to in progress or done. The typical cycle time should be half the length of a sprint.
If the cycle time exceeds the sprint time, it means that teams are not productive.

8. Work In Progress: Work In Progress keeps a tab on things currently in progress while ensuring that delivery speed is up to date. This increases the delivery time and manages dependencies.

9. Failed Deployments: Failed Deployments help in the assessment of the total number of deployments in testing and production environments. This is a metric that helps in ascertaining whether a feature is ready to go into production.

10. Escaped Defects: Escaped Defects help in evaluating the quality of the products delivered. In addition, it enables you to track the bugs after the product is released into production.

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How to Choose the Right Metric

So, now that you have the key Agile metrics, how do you identify the right metric? 

What factors should you consider while choosing the correct metric? 

Should you look at what your competitors are using? 

Characteristics of a relevant agile metric-

1. Customer Satisfaction: The metrics that are selected should measure sales figures and revenue. It also includes the number of customer calls and features delivered in time. Even product usage statistics are also an important figure. 

2. Business Value: Business Value finds a key prominence in the Agile Manifesto. Any agile metric that you use should be able to have business value.

But, what does business value mean? Business Value refers to prioritizing the most important feature that is valuable to the customer. It’s more than money. It’s about how your product is perceived by users, employees, and stakeholders. Business Value is achieved when you do things efficiently by reducing costs and time.

3. Product Scope: Pursuing short-term goals and keeping note of the progress not only feels motivating but keeps the team occupied and engaged. This practice creates a feedback loop that keeps the project head informed about the progress. 
Here are some key Agile KPIs to consider-

  • a. Usage Index: See the features that your users are using the most. By evaluating the various product features, you can decide as to what is the most important thing for your users. This is your most significant KPI.By keeping a tab on the most important product features in a production environment, you can ascertain the features that offer the highest ROI.
  • b. Innovation Rate: Innovation Rate is the capability of a team to develop value-driven features and involve in unavoidable activities such as bug fixes and application support.The overload of the existing system reduces the scope for innovation.
  • c. On-Product Index: On-Product Index is the amount of time a team spends to develop the product. This KPI reflects the way the team functions and their contribution to a product’s growth.Reducing unproductive meetings which go on hours, the on-product index will improve significantly.
  • d. Installed Version Index: The Installed Version Index determines the number of versions of an application that require support. Every supported version increases the support needs, decreasing the team’s focus on developing value-driven features.

Key Factors To Note

Agile metrics are surely vital, but several intangible factors can’t be quantified.

1. Employee Satisfaction: Your organization’s success in becoming Agile depends on the employees’ contentment with the firm. The work environment shouldn’t be toxic. All employees should be able to share opinions and thoughts.

Happier employees add more value to the firm and output.

2. Organizational Culture: Organizational Culture refers to the collection of values, expectations, and practices that guide and inform the actions of all employees. Agile transformation is possible only if your vision, mission, and other values make the work environment conducive for optimum function.

3. Team Motivation: Accomplishing success requires motivated team members to come together and work towards fulfilling a common goal.

Only if all the team members are aligned towards a common goal will an agile organization be built.

Conclusion

Agile Metrics are many. There’s one to measure different aspects such as productivity, delivery outcome, cost, and the like. 

The 10 Agile metrics mentioned above have their significance. Evaluate all the metrics and choose the one that best suits your business. If you’re having a hard time determining the right metric, contact us to answer all your queries.

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Author's Bio
Agilemania

We are a team of Professional Scrum Trainers (PST) and Enterprise Agile coaches actively working as Scrum Trainers, Agile Coaches, Scrum Masters/Product Owners aimed at delivering quality and consistency for our students across the globe.