A New Copy!

Today we tackle Chapter 7 of  Daniel S. Vacanti’s Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability: An Introduction (buy a copy today).  The chapter is titled, Conservation of Flow Part I.  The flow of work into and out of a process is incredibly important for establishing predictability.  Chapter 7 explains the concept of conservation of flow mentioned (almost in passing) in Chapter 6. (more…)

Getting the most value out of a process is important to any leader.  Balancing getting the most value with getting value sooner complicates the discussion.  In some cases, getting some value sooner is worth more than the same value delivered later.  Guiding the delivery of value is more complicated than a rank ordering a list of user stories and then magically hoping that everything will happen in the most effective and efficient manner possible.  Measurement is an important tool to help team and organizations ask the right questions.  To borrow an idea from Daniel Vacanti’s Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability, measurement helps people ask the right questions sooner.  The following 6 flow metrics provide process transparency into organizations that leverage continuous flow, scrumban, and/or Scrum as the basis for their Agile implementations.  (more…)

A New Copy!

Today we tackle Chapter 6 of  Daniel S. Vacanti’s Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability: Interpreting CFDs.  Learning to read CFDs provide teams and individuals with a huge amount of information through data visualization.  Chapter 6 continues to build on flow metrics data visualization and Little’s Law. Remember to buy your copy today and read along! (more…)

Cycle time?

In a recent discussion of Agile metrics, I was asked whether there was a difference between cycle time and throughput.  The simplest answer is that they “feel” similar. Many in software measurement define throughput as the number of units of work (UoW) delivered per unit of time; while cycle time is the amount of time per unit of work (as defined in Actionable Agile Metrics).  The two metrics are the reciprocal of each other. These definitions are functional; however, the cycle time metric is an abridgment of the how the measure is defined in the broader process measurement world.  With the profusion of lean six sigma black belts in the software measurement world lack of precision in the definitions can lead to comical misunderstanding.  Cycle time, with and without lead time, tell interesting but very different stories and are both useful.   (more…)

A New Copy!

Today we begin Part 2 of  Daniel S. Vacanti’s Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability. Part 2 is titled Cumulative Flow DIagrams for Predictability. Chapter 4, Introduction to CFDs lays out the Vacanti’s view on the composition of cumulative flow diagrams (CFD) and the principles that drive those views. Cumulative flow diagrams are some of the most powerful data visualization techniques and are used far less than they should be! Buy your copy today and read along!

Part 2 Cumulative flow diagrams for predictability

Chapter 4 Introduction to CFDs.

The Software Process and Measurement blog has tackled CFDs in the past. CFDs provide a basis for interpreting the flow of work through a process. A CFD can help everyone from team members to program managers (note I think my understanding and experience would suggest updating and tailoring some parts of the older entries on the topic). Vacanti opens Chapter 4 with the concept: (more…)

A New Copy!

Today we tackle Chapter 2 of  Daniel S. Vacanti’s Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability. Chapter 2 is titled The Basic Metrics of Flow.  The concept of flow is critical to predictability.   Buy your copy today and read along! (more…)

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A New Copy!

Today, Chapter 1 of  Daniel S. Vacanti’s Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability. Chapter 1 is titled Flow, Flow Metrics, and Predictability.  Vacanti jumps directly into the deep end by suggesting a way to answer the age-old question, ”when are you going to deliver?”  Buy your copy today and read along! (more…)

A New Copy!

Today we begin the re-read of Daniel S. Vacanti’s Actionable Agile Metrics for Predictability. Actionable Agile Metrics (Leanpub, 2015) is 17 chapters with a preface and bibliography across 307 pages.  Buy your copy today and read along! (more…)

Danger!

Danger!

Vanity metrics are not merely just inconvenience; they can be harmful to teams and organizations. Vanity metrics can elicit three major categories of poor behavior.

  1. Distraction. You get what you measure. Vanity metrics can lead teams or organizations into putting time and effort into practices or work products that don’t improve the delivery of value.
  2. Trick teams or organizations into believing they have answers when they don’t. A close cousin to distraction is the belief that the numbers are providing an insight into how to improve value delivery when what is being measured isn’t connected to the flow of value.  For example, the organization that measures the raw number of stories delivered across the department should not draw many inferences in the velocity of stories delivered on a month-to-month basis.
  3. Make teams or organizations feel good without providing guidance. Another kissing cousin to distraction are metrics that don’t provide guidance.  Metrics that don’t provide guidance steal time from work that can provide real value becasue they require time to collect, analyze and discuss. On Twitter, Gregor Wikstrand recently pointed out:

@TCagley actually, injuries and sick days are very good inverse indicators of general management ability

While I agree with Greger’s statement, his assessment is premised on someone using the metric to affect how work is done.  All too often, metrics such as injuries and sick days are used to communicate with the outside world rather than to provide guidance on how work is delivered.

Vanity metrics can distract teams and organizations by sapping time and energy from delivering value. Teams and organizations should invest their energy in collecting metrics that help them make decisions. A simple test for every measure or metric is to ask: Based on the number or trend, do you know what you need to do? If the answer is ‘no’, you have the wrong metric.

A beard without gray is a reflection of vanity at this point in my life!

A beard without gray might be a reflection of vanity at this point in my life!

Unlike vanity license plates, calling a measure or metric a ‘vanity metric’ is not meant as a compliment. The real answer is never as cut and dry as when someone jumps up in the middle of a presentation and yells, “that is a vanity metric, you are suggesting we go back to the middle ages.”  Before you brand a metric with the pejorative of “vanity metric,” consider:

  1. Not all vanity metrics are useless.
  2. Your perception might not be same as someone else.
  3. Just because you call something a vanity metric does not make it true.

I recently toured several organizations that had posted metrics. Several charts caught my eye. Three examples included:

  1. Number of workdays injury-free;
  2. Number of function points billed in the current quarter, and
  3. A daily total of user calls.

Using our four criteria (gamability, linked to business outcomes, provides process knowledge and actionable) I could classify each of the metrics above as a vanity metric but that might just be my perception based on the part of the process I understand.  (more…)