Velocity charts are one of the easiest and effective ways for you, as a leader, to be able to predict how much work your team will be able to deliver.
What are velocity charts?
As a leader, you need to have a clear idea of how much work your team can deliver within a given amount of time. Unforeseen events will occur without any doubt but it’s extremely important for you to be able to answer a simple question: “When can you deliver this feature?”
By analyzing what happened in the past, you can foresee what will happen in the future, or at least what trends you should expect.
One of the ways to understand history is to analyze velocity chats and understand how these agile metrics can tell you a story of your team and the work they’ve done these past sprints.
How to create and read velocity charts?
A very simple way of making use of your velocity charts is to compare the amount of story points your team committed in the focused sprints and how what was the number of story points they’ve actually delivered.
- Horizontal Axis marks the sprints
- Vertical Axis is devoted to story points
- For each sprint:
- The column on the left should represent the number of points the team committed for the sprint
- The Column on the right represents the amount of points the team delivered by the end of the sprint
Do this study for 5/7 sprints to have a clear idea of how your team is doing and to discard any incidents leaving you only with the main delivery trend.
How can velocity charts improve my team’s work?
As you study multiple sprints you’ll start to see trends and you’ll be able to fine-tune how your team prepares sprints. For example, if your team always commits with more than 50 points but for the last 7 sprints they never delivered more than 30 then you need to sit down with them and ensure they only commit with 30 story points this sprint.
This will allow for a less stressful and more satisfying sprint since the team won’t feel they’re consistently failing the sprint goal.
What can affect team velocity?
Team velocity is quite a sensitive metric that can be affected by multiple factors:
- Team members leaving the team
- New joiners
- Scope creep (considering that its not the norm)
To me, the biggest one is without a doubt the people leaving or joining the team because a team member is so much more than the work delivered. Its the sum of problems resolved, problems created, good/bad communication with an internal or external team, the laughter, the fights, everything.
Team movements will effectively change the whole dynamic of the work delivered either for the good or the bad that it will without a doubt affect how you should read the velocity chart and what your team velocity will be.
Check out my 2 minute challenge on Velocity Charts on YouTube to know a bit more about the topic.
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