Engineering AnalyticsSprint Velocity: The Ultimate Guide

Avya Chaudhary · 2023-01-18

The software development process is complex. It involves various tasks that need to be distributed among teams and completed within a designated time frame. Managers need to be on top of the software development process and establish a workflow that can be traced, as mismanagement of even a minuscule size can lead teams to compromise on the deadlines. This is where a metric like Sprint Velocity can help set achievable targets and gain visibility into the process. 

What is Sprint Velocity?

In the agile development framework, teams divide the available time into smaller durations or sprints, which can be certain days or weeks. The number of completed tasks at the end of each sprint is the velocity of that particular sprint, and the average velocity value across these sprints is the sprint velocity of the entire development process. Calculating sprint velocity is crucial in the development process as it determines the success rate in achieving deadlines. Apart from helping determine achievable deadlines, the sprint velocity metric also finds other applications in the agile development process and in the developer's well-being. 

How is Velocity Helpful for Scrum Teams?

Regularly tracking sprint velocity can help software teams gain visibility into the project's progress and blockers hindering it. Not achieving the target sprint velocity can signal issues managers can look into and analyze. This enables them to understand the blockers in the development process and identify gaps - both internal and external. Here are other insights that can be obtained by calculating sprint velocity:

Importance of sprint velocity
  • Understand the technical difficulties in the project
  • Optimize resource allocation between sprints
  • Uncover blockers in different stages of the development process, be it writing codes, testing or feedback and rework
  • Discover if there are any discrepancies in the objectives provided by stakeholders
  • Find out if the requirements are changed frequently 

Though the benefits of constantly calculating sprint velocity are plenty, there is no one way to do it. Organizations have multiple concepts to calculate sprint velocity in their agile planning process.

How Do We Measure & Visualise Sprint Velocity?

Every team, every project, and every client is unique. Hence calculating velocity across these verticals can be challenging. Over the years, organizations have come up with different variables and constants that can help them calculate and analyze the sprint velocity. The most common among them are - 

  • User story
  • Capacity
  • Definition of Done
  • Velocity graph
  • Burndown chart

User Story

A user story is the quantifiable translation of the requirements needed to complete a particular feature, module, or product based on the benefit from an end-user perspective. The user story is assigned points based on the complexity and effort needed from a minor story or bug fix, earning 1 point and a significant development or edits ranging between 5-to 8 points. Again, this varies across sprints, teams, and departments. 

Capacity

Planning capacity for the team helps arrive at a realistic valuable available to complete the user stories. Capacity planning helps estimate the available bandwidth to develop, test, and edit user stories. This metric is arrived at by calculating individual availability and mapping it to the list of user stories, thus giving the aggregate of the time the team has to complete the task. Assuming a developer ideally has 6 hours of productivity bandwidth after meetings, breaks, and other routine activities, and a team has about eight developers working five days a week for three weeks, the capacity is 720 hours.  

Definition of Done (DoD)

Defining the Definition of Done is an agreed-upon set of conditions or acceptance criteria that a process must meet for it to be complete in the perspective of the end-user. It can contain various parameters such as testing, review, documentation, etc., but should meet the completed criteria set by the end-user.

Velocity Graph

The velocity graph comes in handy while calculating the sprint velocity as it highlights the amount of work done and the amount of work remaining in the user story or task. It provides insights into the average amount of work to be completed to achieve the desired results in the sprint. The story point is plotted along the y-axis, and the completed sprints are on the x-axis, and both come together to provide an understanding of the team's performance and set up future targets. 

Burndown Chart

While almost similar to the velocity graph, the burndown chart gives insights into the team's progress in completing the committed task across all user stories within a single sprint. The slope of the burndown chart helps predict if the story will be completed early, on time, or late.

Sprint Velocity is Not the Only Metric You Need

As mentioned earlier, the spring velocity formula can differ across teams, processes, projects, and clients. Managers should not target a higher sprint velocity and align goals to increase the number. In fact, sprint velocity is:

1) Variable 

2) Descriptive 

3) Arbitrary

Increasing the velocity alone can be complex and counterproductive, especially without any data or tools to back it up. Managers should also leverage other assessment factors like better code reviews, quality assessment, and better planning throughout the development process by taking a data-driven stand rather than a completion-oriented one. Managers should have access to other software development metrics like code churn, maker time, and even async stand-ups to identify blockers effectively and leverage the gathered insights from these metrics to improve sprint velocity. To do this, they need a comprehensive tool like Hatica that encompasses the critical tools and analytics to optimize the software development process.

Final words

While sprint velocity is a crucial metric in the agile planning process, managers should incorporate other tools to fully harness the potential of the team, while also persevering their well-being. 

Hatica helps managers to do this by equipping them with a software that seamlessly integrates with the everyday tools that developers work with to provide a data-enriched approach to the development process. Hatica offers a 360 degree insight into sprint planning, identify hiccups, and trends from one sprint to other, and make data-driven decisions faster and easier by keeping all useful metrics at one place. The platform also enables better collaboration within teams and preserves the focus time of the developers, paving the way for an engaged workforce and better project completion. Request a demo and explore Hatica further.

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Table of Contents
  • How is Velocity Helpful for Scrum Teams?
  • How Do We Measure & Visualise Sprint Velocity?
  • Sprint Velocity is Not the Only Metric You Need
  • Final words