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What is the velocity in Agile?
Velocity in Agile measures the amount of work a team can complete in a single sprint; it is a calibration tool to help teams develop accurate and efficient timelines.
What’s attractive about measuring velocity in Agile is that it doesn’t serve as a benchmark to challenge; instead, measuring velocity is very relative, depending on what resounds with the team measuring it.
How is the velocity in Agile measured?
Velocity in Agile is measured using a simple calculation that compares the completed unit of work to the specified time. However, there are several ways of measuring velocity, mainly by measuring engineering hours, user stories, and story points.
Here’s an example of how to measure velocity using story points:
Let’s say you have 100 story points completed from each sprint. Your team completed five sprints. So the average sprint velocity is 100 / 5 = 20. This number helps scrum teams predict how to base the work for your future sprints on an average of 20 story points.
So after calculating several story points in multiple sprints, teams can better understand how long it will take to complete a project and how to plan for it efficiently.
It is important to note that calculating velocity in Agile for capacity planning is a compelling metric. However, this same metric can be dangerous in agile teams for measuring anything other than capacity planning.
How does agile velocity help measure efficiency?
The above said, raw numbers from agile velocity calculation are misleading and should not be considered a benchmark.
Instead, the increase of story points does not necessarily indicate an increase in productivity, nor does a decrease in story points suggest a reduction in productivity.
Trends are looked at when using velocity as a metric. For example, if you have an upward trend, this might designate a decline in quality, affecting efficiency. While digging deeper into downward trends might yield a more accurate budget and timeline.
Not to forget the human contribution in affecting velocity and efficiency. An agile team with profound project knowledge, rich technical experience, strong communication skills, commitment to sprint goals, and a collaboration mindset can certainly impact velocity.
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