As an adage goes, ‘What you cannot measure, you cannot manage. What you cannot manage, you cannot optimize.’
A lot of Agile driven businesses somehow end up facing the brunt of not being able to prove their usefulness and benefits as they seem to be unaware of what needs to be measured.
These organizations start with all the zeal and enthusiasm, do the right things, follow the Agile Manifesto and the 12 Agile principles to the best extent possible – yet, seem to fail after sometime. The reason is that they do not track the right metrics required that could improve the whole Agile environment and make it more suited for the organization to meet its goals. They forget that the goal is not just to implement Agile, but rather that Agile must become the means to achieve the business objectives of the organization.
Usually, most organizations know that as per the 7th Agile principle, ‘Working software is the primary measure of progress’. Following are five qualitative and quantitative Agile Metrics that if collected and analyzed can help organizations achieve their goals:
1. Customer satisfaction, fast and continuous delivery of quality software are key to organizational growth. Conducting customer satisfaction surveys help effectively measure and analyze areas a project is performing well, or not. Analysis metrics as the schedule performance index (SPI) also supports learning about both the past and future insights of schedule adherence and continuous delivery. It also comes in handy when there are changes in the milestones. A few specific metrics and measures that may thus be used are Agile earned value analysis, and Return on investment (ROI); Customer satisfaction survey/Scorecard; and Release milestone analysis (planned versus achieved).
2. Being able to adapt to the changing requirements plays a key role in projects. Backlogs and story points form the key metrics in such a situation. The number of backlog items, story points or effort indicate the requirement stability of a project. If the product backlog is periodically revisited, groomed, and ordered, the metric can be indicative of the teams’ ability to adapt to changing requirements. This falls under informed decision making, tuning and adjusting behavior, which is in alignment with the 12th Agile principle. Requirements stability analysis along with SPI and CPI helps the leadership team ask the right questions during the planning/retrospective sessions so that corrective and preventive actions may be taken.
3. Another key requirement of an Agile project is to deliver working software at smaller, regular durations. To measure whether functional software was delivered, logs need to be maintained to measure the percentage of defects to the number of user stories in the product backlog. Maintaining, and understanding data related to percentage of defects in the product backlog, the release burn-down and release milestone analysis (planned versus achieved) would help churning out smaller, complete projects.
4. Collaboration between business and developers forms a key aspect for a successful delivery of an Agile project. To be successful, organizations need to keep track of percentage of escaped defects and the project efforts logged by business toward the project.
5. Measuring the progress and delivering working software must be a continuous process in an Agile environment. Velocity (number of stories delivered in each sprint) and delivery efficiency (the ratio of the number of story points delivered to the number of story points planned). Together, these metrics provide the percentage of the number of story points that were delivered against those planned for the respective sprint.
The above are only a few of the metrics available for measuring and helping an Agile project be successful. Agile principles, along with these metrics, provide the team and management with a more structured approach for achieving success. They allow proactive and corrective actions to reap the benefits of developing products using Agile methods.