Metrics Are About Prediction

Metrics Are About Prediction

There are three reasons to measure. The first is to guide specific behaviors. The second is to provide information on the status of process. And the third is as a tool to help predict the future. At a team level it is easy to take a very narrow view of metrics and measurement, however the organization is another significant stakeholder in the collection and consumption of metrics information. Teams and other organizational stakeholders have different metrics needs for each of three basic reasons for measuring.  Part of maturing as an Agile organization is the development of a common understanding of metrics needs that includes the differences between groups.  Reaching a common understanding is a step toward developing the mechanisms to accommodate all of the relevant metrics needs within the organization.


Reason to Measure

Agile Team Perspective Organizational Perspective
Guide Behaviors The goal of metrics and tools at a team level are to support tactical behaviors focused on the delivery the functionality the team has committed to delivering.  Metrics can be delivered with tools such as card walls (the simple metric of a card moving across the board), burn-down charts or story completion charts.  These tools (also known as information radiators) provide information that teams generally find useful for guiding behaviors such as swarming, collaboration and continuous re-planning. The goal of measurement that guides behavior at the organizational level is to reinforce desired overall Agile behavior. The metrics needed to support and reinforce Agile behavior will evolve as an organization completes its Agile transformation.  Examples of organization metrics that guide behavior include Ka8znztcskills/capabilities tracking (gamification – Gamification is a mechanism that leverages the competitive attributes of the target audience). [As the transformation matures, measurement against Agile Maturity Models can be leveraged to guide behavior.
Provide Status Tactical Perspective: The team shares status on a daily basis during the stand-up/Scrum meeting while leveraging tools line the card wall and burn-down charts as metrics and informational radiators. Burn-down chart provides team level status information that can by share across multiple layers of the organization hierarchy, however team level data tends to be seen as too granular as projects morph into programs and status is passed up the organizational hierarchy. Program level burn-up charts and story maps provide quantifiable measurement feedback that is accessible to senior leaders.
Predict Future Scrum and Scrumban teams need to be able see the work in front of them to understand how to plan both at a short, medium term and long term basis.  Tools like burn-down (short term), burn-up (program level view), story maps and product roadmaps (both long-term) provide a quantified view of progress. Organizations need to develop tactical and strategic plans that are supported by software functionality.  Portfolio metrics and information radiators (story maps and product roadmaps) leverage naturally occurring data from project performance.

Different stakeholders have different measurement needs and perspectives.  Occasionally there is a suggestion that the only measurement data that Agile should generate is what the team needs.  While teams and other organizational stakeholders, such as product, IT and executive management, can (and should) use similar tools, organizational data needs extend to being able to monitor and guide the Agile transformation and other process improvement efforts. Those needs will require everyone involved collect a wider range of data and generate different metrics.