How does someone know where they are going if you never stop to look at a map? Naturally, spot checking progress and tracking pace can help ensure destinations are reached and deadlines are met. The same is true with software development sprints. There are several metrics that can be captured to mitigate risk of getting off track. Not tracking metrics and their changes between sprints can open the project up to negative consequences.
Here is a list of possible metrics to track:
- Number of stories or story points assigned to each sprint. This is focusing on trying to capture how the number changes from sprint to sprint. If the total number is higher than originally assigned, then the scope of the project may be increasing. If the number is lower, then the project may be putting the release date at risk.
- Velocity. Essentially, measuring how many story points (stories) were assigned and completed throughout the project and keeping a running average. The cumulative average of all story points or stories completed within each sprint is the velocity.
- Carry over. This is another component of velocity and measuring the number of stories. It focuses on the items that were assigned to the current sprint, not completed, and must be moved to the following sprint. It is important to see what is being held up so it can be stop being a lingering problem. Items that were added may be contributing to the problem of carry over by forcing other items to be pushed back and should be at a minimum to keep with agile best practices. It can be enlightening to track to see if hitting a large backlog of tasks is imminent before the project can be completed on time.
- Story states. This requires assigning statuses in reference to a story’s current point in the project lifecycle (in development, requirements stage, etc.). Labeling is helpful to keep everyone involved and informed, but actually measuring and tracking these states from sprint to sprint can help explain what parts of the process are slowing down the process. This can be especially helpful if a carryover is determined because it may be that only one or two of the process steps that are holding up the project.
A visual representation of these values is highly recommended to see if graphing the metrics tells a different story than just reviewing the numbers. Tracking and visually displaying this data from the project’s start to finish may reduce the chance of diverting away from scope and deadlines. These metrics may not always be necessary, and there could be other metrics that are helpful too, but the bigger takeaway from this is to not blindly aim for a specified destination. Stopping to look at a map and its details is important to ensure the most effective and efficient route is pursued.