Top 8 Agile Team Metrics To Measure Success

Top 8 Agile Team Metrics To Measure Success

What are the top metrics you recommend for measuring an Agile Team?

To help you to find a great metric to measure your agile team, we asked marketing professionals and business leaders this question for their best advice. From burndown charts to story points, there are several different metrics that may help you to measure your agile team. 

Here are eight recommended metrics for measuring an agile team: 

  • Burndown Chart
  • Incremental Delivery of Value
  • Development and Sprint Velocity
  • Weighted Rubric
  • Work in Progress 
  • Team Velocity
  • Team Effectiveness
  • Story Points

Burndown Chart

Measuring a team is always tricky and what is measured will change over time depending on

team maturity. However, if I had to pick one metric, I would have to pick the burndown chart.

When done openly and honestly it can uncover several anti-patterns for the team and the

process. Are we planning too much work or too little? Is the work we planned in small enough

bites to avoid sharp drops? Is the team getting injects in during the sprint? Lastly, I like the

burndown because it can be scaled.

Raymond Mattes, Best Agile Consulting

Incremental Delivery of Value

The guiding measure for an agile team is the incremental delivery of value. Teams can meet this goal through the accuracy of estimates. Many elements like reducing dependencies and multiple inputs can help improve accuracy of estimate. However, breaking down the work into smaller pieces makes it easier to estimate, easier to predict effort, and easier to identify risks. Although it may take some discipline, accurate estimates also help eliminate unnecessary work to deliver value each iteration and at an optimal pace.

Caroline Jones, Western Governors University

Development and Sprint Velocity

While it isn’t a precise measurement, it is still a strong indicator of issues. If your team is dealing with issues such as distractions due to other internal commitments, it will show in the velocity. It also works the same the other way around: If your team sees an issue resolved it will show a strong uptick in velocity. Sprint points are a very rough measurement, so look for ~20% week-over-week variations before you decide something has seriously changed.

Erik Fogg, ProdPerfect

Weighted Rubric

While most Agile teams assign (and bicker over) points for productivity, points are only part of your equation. Measuring quality is more important, and it can be more difficult. Our Agile content team uses a rubric to measure our writing quality against internal standards. The rubric includes scores for SEO, subject expertise, voice, and engagement. We grade a rubric for each writer for each of their 1:1 meetings with their managers, and we expect an average score of 90% across all rubrics. It took us a couple of weeks to write the rubric, but the writers have risen to the standards we set. 

Tamara Scott, TechnologyAdvice

Work in Progress 

In all my time working within an agile framework only one metric has proven to me to be an accurate predictor of team success: work in progress or WIP. The point of an agile team is to focus heavily on small pieces of work until they are done. As much of the team as is feasible should be focused on the same User Story until that story is accepted, then they shift to the next story. Too often teams will settle into a routine where each team member takes on a story by themselves, rather than swarming them. This makes the WIP high and when the WIP is high, so is the risk. When the entire team is working on multiple stories, it means that QA is going to be slammed at the end of the iteration and something will likely get missed.

Mark Varnas, Red9

Team Velocity

Agile development is built on the ability of the business to weigh the ROI of certain features. They need to be able to accurately know how long it will take to deliver a feature to the users in order to reap the rewards. Of all of the metrics in agile, the one that feeds this system most is the team velocity. Based on this metric the stakeholders can determine just how much development time (and development dollars) it will take to deliver the feature before we see any benefits. If the velocity is inaccurate, all decisions are based on bad data. And any decision based on bad data is a bad decision.

Phil Strazzulla, Select Software Reviews

Team Effectiveness

Whether a company is pre-launch or in a growing stage, the agile team should be working towards a single goal. How well they do so can be categorized as effectiveness. Pre-launch, the key metric is to get to market as soon as possible. Release velocity would be critical. But more than product features, it’s an alignment between research and development to ensure the right thing is being built. This is effectiveness. When you’re a product startup trying to get sales, getting users is critical. But this can’t all fall on sales. Product has to be involved as well to ideate ways to get users more engaged and help grow the network. This is effectiveness. An effective agile team is one where everyone on the team is working on things that get to a singular goal. That goal drives the product roadmap and release cycle. And like a sprint cadence, the team should have an analytics cadence to determine which sprints were the most effective and why.

Husam Machlovi, With Pulp

Story Points

We just had this conversation with our development team. What software development metric within an Agile team would best inform our shareholders about the state of our business? We arrived at Story Points as one metric to measure weekly in our team meetings. We felt that by having a weighted metric like Story Points, we could better capture elements like efficiency and productivity than if we paid attention to metrics like “lines of code written.” And, through Story Points, we could better monitor the progress of our team for the milestones that really matter.

Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

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6 Tips To Stay Agile While Completely Remote

6 Tips To Stay Agile While Completely Remote

How do you stay agile while completely remote? What is your number one tip?

To help you with staying agile while being completely remote, we asked business leaders and HR professionals this question for their best tips. From making face-to-face time to weekly  L10 meetings, there are several tips that may help you to stay agile while working remotely.

Here are six tips to stay agile while completely remote: 

  • Face-to-Face Time
  • Inspect Daily to Identify What is Working
  • Break Up Work into Discrete, Independent Chunks
  • Create “Rules For Your Tools”
  • Hone in Asynchronous Communication
  • Weekly L10 Meetings 

Face-to-Face Time

I can sum up how to stay agile in three words…communicate, communicate, communicate.

The entire Agile Manifesto centers around this, from individuals and interactions, to responding

to change it all requires communication. Put energy into ensuring the teams have ways to

communicate with each other in real-time with as much face-to-face time as possible. Do online

team building, weekly peer 1:1’s, an always-on chat room, anything to allow the communication

to as closely achieve colocation as possible. It is harder now because we do not get the benefit

of sitting next to each other, so we must find new ways to have water cooler conversations and

hear our teammates collaborate “at their desk”.

Raymond Mattes, Best Agile Consulting

Inspect Daily to Identify What is Working

In addition to morning coffee, meditation, and your favorite sweatpants, reaching out often for feedback creates transparency with yourself and the team. Too often, teams working remote sit in their corner and work until they feel something is complete. Unless the team members share throughout the entire process, the lack of transparency could create misalignment with the team, the project, or both which may result in tech debt accumulation. The most efficient and effective method is to inspect daily and identify what is working and what isn’t. Encouraging continuous connection virtually through video conference keeps the lines of communication open, encourages dialog that leads to productive solutions, and facilitates the real-time removal of blockers. No technology can replace one-on-one communication.

Caroline Jones, Western Governors University

Break Up Work into Discrete, Independent Chunks

My best advice is to lean deeper into the agile mindset and move towards full continuous deployment. It will always be much, much harder to coordinate work into a normal sprint breakdown when you have remote work. We just need to embrace that, as it’s likely to last. Break your work up into discrete, independent chunks that can be deployed independently and quickly, and you’ll find that having removed the distraction of the office, the now-freed engineers will actually increase their velocity.

Erik Fogg, ProdPerfect

Create “Rules For Your Tools”

With so many remote tools ranging from Teamwork to Dropbox to Google Suite; identifying how you and your team will utilize them is hypercritical in today’s remote environment. Setting a specific naming structure will help manage and ensure items are consistently shared to eliminate confusion and/or redundancy. Regularly communicating those utilization and management tool structures will ensure your team and tools eliminate the inevitable digital frustration that can occur, if “rules for tools” aren’t established.

Mark Jamnik, Enjoy Life Daily

Hone in Asynchronous Communication

Get good at both short-form and long-form written communication. Use a messenger like Slack for your daily communication. Go asynchronous. This will help you determine whether you need to have time to sync up. See how the team does and decide. At that point, find the minimum necessary time you need to sync up. Scale up from there, as needed. For daily updates, use organized and to-the-point text, with bulleted and numbered lists. Make action items very clear. Think in an abbreviated essay format: Background, Main Content, Next steps. For strategic threads, use Google Docs. Also, think in an essay-like format. Others can collaborate and add their notes.

Husam Machlovi, With Pulp

Weekly L10 Meetings 

I’m not a developer. But, we recently implemented weekly “L10” meetings with our development team to ensure that we stay Agile while completely remote. In our meetings, we will bring up “People Headlines” to talk through accomplishments or time out of office. We will revisit our “To-Do’s.” But most of the meeting is talking through “Issues” that have bottlenecked throughout the day. By addressing these issues together as a team, we’re able to find solutions much more efficiently than if we relied on IM’s or email communication. Sometimes, you just need to get together as a team to ensure nothing stands in the way of accomplishing the work you need to do. 

Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

Terkel creates community-driven content featuring expert insights. Sign up at terkel.io to answer questions and get published. 

10 Agile Transformation Obstacles Organizations Face

10 Agile Transformation Obstacles Organizations Face

As organizations aim to do more with less and better serve customers, an Agile Transformation may be in order. 

What is the largest obstacle an organization faces when starting or going through an Agile Transformation?

To help you prepare for an Agile Transformation, we asked agile experts and business leaders about the challenges they’ve faced. 

Here are ten obstacles organizations face in an Agile Transformation. 

  • Complexity in culture
  • Unlearning traditional ways of thinking
  • People
  • Employee buy-in
  • Unraveling the non-differences
  • Mid-level management not being brought in
  • Shifting control from leaders to teams
  • Expanding from the team level to the organizational level
  • Misalignment of a belief system on all levels
  • Role Changes


Complexity in culture

The largest obstacle to an organization is culture. Culture drives behavior and decisions within

an organization and is paramount to successful transformation. Culture is also the last thing to change and is complex. It is complex in numerous ways, but it starts with what type of culture you want in your organization. Do you want a family atmosphere focused on doing things together like Google? Do you want an adhocracy where innovation is paramount, and employees take chances? Maybe your organization wants a complete culture that is results-driven and competitive? Lastly, do you need a process and procedures for everything? Most organizations need some type of hybrid culture which is another reason culture is the biggest obstacle.

Raymond Mattes, Best Agile Consulting

Unlearning traditional ways of thinking

The biggest hurdle an organization faces in Agile transformation is the ‘Mindset or culture change.’ Organization leadership or executives are usually veterans of an industry or business line. They would have worked in that industry or business line for years or decades. However, the new type of problems in today’s digital era needs newer thinking and way of working. Thus these executives’ ability to unlearn their traditional ways of thinking is the biggest difficulty. 

Agile, as you may know, is a way of working where it is only successful if you follow some simple principles such as empowering the teams to take decisions instead of controlling, aligning to the outcomes rather than following the processes blindly, purpose-driven instead of financial-focused. Thus inside-out approach, from Culture -> Structure / Processes – Enablers/Tools, is the winning approach. Leadership’s understanding and drive can make-or-break the Agile transformation.

Saurabh Aphale, EY

People

In a word, people. Stakeholders must understand the transformation and how we are going to deliver differently, but better. Teams need to be trained on how to execute this new process and change their mindset. Leaders must also go through a shift in mindset. Anytime you attempt to change someone’s mindset, it’s a difficult journey.

Michael Thompson, LurnAgile

Employee buy-in

Simply put, it’s the buy-in from the employees that Agile will work. We have all heard the saying, ‘it’s easy to do Agile, but it’s hard to be Agile’ and it’s true. We can’t start to go through a transformation without the buy-in from the employees, where they are empowered to make decisions and have ownership of their products. Leaders are employees too, and they have to buy-in, as they navigate their employees through the ‘waters’ of Agile, in changing mindset and empowerment. Listen to your employees as you go through an Agile Transformation, they hold the keys to being Agile.

Dawn Wright, John Deere

Unraveling the non-differences

Organizations tend to believe that they’re very different and that their problems are unique. Therefore, they tend to think of complicated solutions. Although each organization is unique, the problems they face with a transformation are not that unique. Therefore instead of reinventing the wheel and coming up with complex solutions, they should look around them and see what has worked for other organizations and tailor it to fit their needs and organizational culture.

Lyvie Racine, Global Enterprise Agile Coach

Mid-level management not being brought in

The largest obstacle an organization faces when undertaking an agile transformation is mid-level management not being brought in. This is crucial, as their roles radically change in an agile environment. They must understand that their new criteria is for being successful and be advocates for the transformation.

Megan Hicks, MegAgility

Shifting control from leaders to teams

When agile adoption is not a strategic priority, organizations default to command and control leadership practices. Individuals and teams are not trusted to make decisions, clogging up the to-do list, stunting innovation, and impeding progress.

Marti Konstant, Workplace Futurist

Expanding from the team level to the organizational level

Organizations need to have strong executive leadership for agile transformations to be successful. Many organizations think Agile is simply a team level project management methodology. Agile is more about cultural change than it is about process change. Agile is a way of working. Without strong executive leadership to influence the change in culture, agile transformations will eventually lose traction and fail, or the transformation will forever remain at the team level and never expand to the organizational level.

Orlando Ramirez, Agile Coach

Misalignment of a belief system on all levels

The largest obstacle of an agile transformation is the misalignment of a belief system on all levels – up, down, and out. Leadership can communicate the mission, vision, and direction of the agile transformation but if the C-suite, V-suite, D-suite, and M-suite do not align the transformation will die on the vine. A common belief in lean-agile principles is critical because an agile transformation is a long and hard journey that changes the operational model, funding, and culture. Leaders of all levels have to be on board with and agree on the values and goals they want to achieve throughout the transformation. It’s on leadership to continually cultivate the belief system to all of the suites down to the teams.

Adrienne Rinaldi, PinnacleTek

Role changes

Employees have their roles change when an organization undergoes an agile transformation. Not all employees like or embrace change, especially when it impacts a daily routine. Organizations can prepare by knowing that there will be detractors, embracers, and employees who will be indifferent. It’s important that all employees understand why their role is changing, how it is changing, and that there is still an opportunity for them to add value to the organization. 

Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

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What Is Business Agility? 12 Agile Experts Share Their Definition

What Is Business Agility? 12 Agile Experts Share Their Definition

You may have heard of the term “business agility” being used in a book, on a Zoom, or from a leader within your organization. 

What is Business Agility?

We asked twelve agile experts to share their definition of business agility. From strategy pivots to empowering employees, these diverse perspectives may help provide a solid definition of just what business agility really is. 

Here are twelve definitions of business agility. 

  • The unique ability to adapt to change
  • An organization’s culture of minimizing problems
  • Competitive advantage
  • Fluidity and flexibility
  • Strategy pivots
  • Attentiveness to trends and market changes
  • Removing sources of disruption and delay
  • Adapting to evolving customer demands
  • Detecting and responding to new data points
  • Everyone is involved in delivering solutions
  • Empowering employees to solve complex problems fast
  • Evolution to product-market fit

The unique ability to adapt to change

In essence, it is the emergent qualities, capacity, or unique ability of an organization to sense, respond, react, and adapt to change. This is done in such a way that they are able to do so and retain or enhance their competitive advantage without compromising quality, integrity, or losing momentum.

Tori Palmer, LurnAgile

An organization’s culture of minimizing problems

There is a myriad of definitions of what business agility is. My facile definition is: Business

agility is an organization’s culture of minimizing the impact of problems. Problems, in this case, can be internal or external and range from disruptors in the marketplace bringing in a new product, to application uptime and infrastructure. I boil it down to culture because in an agile culture the organization will make the necessary investments in tools, training, processes, hiring, etc., to ensure that the agile culture is achieved and sustained.

Raymond Mattes, Best Agile Consulting

Competitive advantage

Business Agility means the business is set to deliver better quality products, faster than the competition. This is done by creating an agile ecosystem where people, products, and customers are aligned using techniques that drive transparency, communication, and collaboration.

Megan Hicks, MegAgility

Fluidity and flexibility

Business agility means fluidity and flexibility, with staff and teams able to move seamlessly between roles for the benefit of maximum customer satisfaction. What’s more, resources must be made available wherever they are most needed at any one time. Business agility can be a tricky proposition to get on board with. 

Mark Christensen, People & Partnerships

Strategy pivots

Business Agility represents the ability of a company to pivot its strategy. While the vision or goal needs to be static, how we get there needs to be flexible. It also represents how we as a company must be able to pivot our products to fit our customers’ needs

Michael Thompson, LurnAgile

Attentiveness to trends and market changes

Business agility is a team or organization that pays attention to trends and market changes, responds and adapts to these changes, and takes action to pursue opportunities rather than stagnate in the face of uncertainty. 

Marti Konstant, Workplace Futurist and Author of “Activate Your Agile Career”

Removing sources of disruption and delay

Agility just means flexibility, so “business agility” is flexibility in service to the shifting needs of the business. This sounds great but it is so challenging! Management is keyed into all the new opportunities and the fluctuating market so they want frequent changes. Meanwhile, the downstream developers need time to finish the current work. To maximize business agility, you need to look at all parts of the process. Analyzing and profiling incoming work requests helps to organize and sequence the work. Removing sources of disruption and delay will improve the flow of work, clearing the decks to take on new work sooner.

Janice Linden-Reed, Salesforce

Adapting to evolving customer demands

Business agility is the ability of an organization to adapt to changing customer demands as well as to changes within its industry, supply chain, and core competencies. Business agility is achieved by a) streamlining information flows throughout an organization; b) encouraging leadership at all levels of an organization, and c) embracing continuous improvement across all business processes.

Orlando Ramirez, Agile Coach

Detecting and responding to new data points

Business Agility is defined by an organization’s ability to detect and respond to new data points in a timely and positive manner. An organization with a high degree of business agility can detect an event such as a pandemic and reprioritize its efforts in enough time to minimize risk as well as create a competitive advantage. For example, an agile company in the entertainment business would understand the implications of the pandemic and immediately seek to acquire a digital asset that would allow them to transfer their events into virtual space. Business agility is accomplished by instrumenting your organization with high-fidelity feedback loops at the micro and macro levels. What do your customers want? What does the market want? And then creating a culture and systems to respond to information as soon as possible.

Lukas Ruebbelke, Briebug

Everyone is involved in delivering solutions

The term agility is often referred to with software teams. Business agility is not just software related, it’s the organization as a whole. What does that mean? For an organization to develop business agility that means that everyone involved in delivering solutions— and I mean everyone — including business and technology leaders, development, IT operations, marketing, finance, legal, support, compliance, security, human resources, and even customers — must all use agile practices to allow their organization to respond rapidly to changes in the internal and external environment without losing momentum or vision. Key aspects essential to long-term business agility are adaptability, flexibility, and perseverance of relentless improvement.

Adrienne Rinaldi, PinnacleTek

Empowering employees to solve complex problems fast

Adapting. Pivot. Fast. Continuous. People. All words that come to mind when thinking about Business Agility. For me, business agility is adapting to technology, listening to the customers, and empowering our employees and leaders to make the decisions to meet the demands of the market. It’s also embracing a culture of innovation to solve complex problems, fast.

Dawn Wright, John Deere

Evolution to product-market fit

Finding a product-market fit is the key to building a good business. It’s also really hard to do, which is why a term like business agility even exists. Business agility is a continuous evolution towards finding product-market fit, which is a match between your value proposition and customer segments. No business nails product-market fit on their first go, which is why the most successful startups are ones who aren’t afraid of adopting an agile approach. 

Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

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