<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none;" alt="" src="https://px.ads.linkedin.com/collect/?pid=1110556&amp;fmt=gif">
August 1, 2022

Agile Velocity

by: Jarrod Reed

In Agile software development, velocity is the first metric we learn and it’s the most widely used. When used appropriately, measuring velocity is a powerful way to improve the capacity planning of individual teams. When used for anything other than estimating an individual team's capacity, however, velocity measurement becomes dangerous.

In this post, I’ll share my opinions and lessons learned in the field using velocity. I’ll detail some landmines to watch out for, how to increase your chances of avoiding them, and what to do if something goes “boom.”

What is Agile Velocity?

First things first: Agile velocity is not a one-size-fits-all concept, and it is not a Swiss Army knife. Agile velocity is intended to serve a very specific function, and using it for anything else can be dangerous. Agile velocity enables a team to estimate their probable work output during a timebox, such as an iteration or program increment.

There are two forms of velocity: what a team thinks they can deliver in story points and what a team actually delivers. Only by measuring both can a team improve their ability to estimate and plan over time.

A team's velocity will differ from timebox to timebox, and that’s to be expected. As a team grows more proficient over time, their velocity should steadily trend upwards and stabilize into a predictable range. When this happens, velocity becomes a great metric for forecasting how many work items a team might complete in a given timebox. This metric can also form the basis for improving the accuracy and reliability of planning your agile work, not only within one team but across many teams.

Sometimes Things Go Wrong

Despite education, training, and the best intentions, even a simple and seemingly innocuous thing like Agile velocity can be misapplied. As the saying goes, “forewarned is forearmed.”

Ponder these common examples of misusing velocity so you can guard against them. If you’re currently doing any of these things, you should stop. If asked to do any of these things, don’t.

  • Using velocity to measure value
  • Using velocity to measure work output
  • Using velocity to measure performance
  • Using velocity to compare one team to another
  • Using velocity to set delivery dates

Be Ready and Be a Team Player

If someone asks you to use velocity inappropriately, it’s not enough to say “that’s wrong” and refuse; be ready to provide alternatives. Take the initiative, reach out to your coach or the body within your organization responsible for Agile practices and ask them how to respond to these potential situations. Publish any standards you come up with so that your product owner and business stakeholders understand how to use—and not use—velocity.

Remember to be open-minded and give people the benefit of the doubt. Just because they ask to use velocity incorrectly doesn’t mean they don’t have a real need or the best of intentions. Engage them in a little discovery to make sure you both agree on what is really needed, then work together to devise a solution. By addressing the examples I shared earlier, you’ll likely be able to offer valid and pre-approved alternatives to meet their needs right away.

Tips from the Field

Explore More Posts

View All Blog Posts
August 11, 2022

New Episode: Super Rally and the Antipattern Nemesis

Read here to learn tips and tricks for Rally, crowdsourced by the community. Read Now
August 9, 2022

Broadcom Named a Leader in Value Stream Management — New GigaOm Analyst Report

Broadcom was recently named a Fast Mover and a Leader in Value Stream Management by GigaOm in their 2022 Radar Report. Read Now
August 1, 2022

Agile Velocity

When used appropriately, measuring velocity is a powerful way to improve the capacity planning of individual teams. Read Now
July 26, 2022

Financial Services Firms Please Customers with Clarity

Learn how Clarity allows one financial services firm to combine the traditional approvals and initiation processes with an agile approach to delivery. Read Now
July 7, 2022

Government Agencies Serve the People with Clarity

Learn how government agencies use Clarity to manage existing projects and potentially expand to new use cases. Read Now
June 23, 2022

Banks Track the Money with Clarity

Clarity allows financial services companies to work the way they want, without having to adjust or compromise because of the limitations of the tool. Read Now
June 21, 2022

Rego University 2022: 10 Clarity Training Sessions Highlighted

Here’s a look at some of the top training sessions you’ll find at Broadcom and Rego Consulting’s upcoming event in Nashville. Read Now
June 16, 2022

What is Progressive Elaboration and Why is It Important?

Learn more about how National Australia Bank used Rally to streamline their software delivery process and increase the accuracy of delivery. Read Now
June 15, 2022

How ValueOps Development is Fueling Better Software, Part 1: Clarity

Learn how the Clarity team employs innovative approaches that are yielding increased agility, efficiency, and performance. Read Now
June 9, 2022

Telcos Automate Work with Clarity

Read how leading telecommunications companies use Clarity to ensure their projects are ready to be delivered. Read Now