Agile methods within businesses continue to grow, but measuring the effects of the transformation that the software has on a business is imperative. Many variables can influence the outcome of the software project, and keeping track of them is key to get an idea of how the software has helped you.
Effective measurement is the only way you’ll be able to determine what impact Agile has had on your business and get a feel for how you can continue to grow in the future. Without measuring before, during, and after your transformation, you’ll be oblivious to the impact that Agile has had.
By working on demonstrating the benefits of Agile to your organisation, you’ll also be able to inspire people to get on board and make them more open to the desired changes. This is a must for those who may not have used Agile before. You’ll also get information that can help guide you to continuous improvement now and in the future.
That being said, metrics can be tough to track. People don’t tend to like being measured and may even change how they behave in order to meet goals and skew the results, and this can hinder results you may have actually recorded. Plus, all teams operate differently, and not every business will want to begin measuring the same metrics. There’s no one size fits all answer for measuring the impact of Agile.
It’s also worth noting that each metric comes with the overhead needed to track it and on occasion, the value does not justify the effort. It’s safe to say that choosing the right Agile metric to measure success isn’t actually as simple as it seems.
Identifying The Metrics That Really Matter
When most companies begin deploying Agile, they are unsure of how to identify the metrics that truly matter. They already believe that their goals are clear just because they have a mission statement that everybody is on board with.
However, you really need to measure what matters to your individual business and make it individual to each of your teams. In order to do this you must figure out what people at each level truly value. You should also be identifying goals and questions as you go to ensure everybody is continuously moving towards your goals.
The best metrics can very often be specific to your unique organisation. You must measure what matters to you based on what you do and your processes – it will not be the same for every corporation, so there’s no one size fits all solution when it comes to tracking your metrics. It’s also worth noting that a metric you begin tracking is not necessarily one you will need to continue tracking – more on this later.
Luckily, Agile methodologies offer a variety of metrics that can be useful to businesses across all industries. You don’t have to use every single one though! Tailoring them to fit your culture can make them more accepted and understood and help you to achieve better results over time.
Ensure You Measure At Every Stage Of The Transformation
To measure the impact of Agile effectively, you need to ensure you measure at every stage of the transformation. This means measuring before, during, and after to get an accurate idea of what is truly going on. Transformation never truly ends so measuring metrics is something you’ll likely want to do ongoing.
You’ll need to measure before you begin so you’ll know what you’re measuring changes against – otherwise, what would you compare your results to, and how would you know you had improved? Accurate measurements taken pre-Agile will be your jumping off point.
Measuring during the process ensures delivery of work is on time, and will motivate delivery teams as the benefits of the software are realized.
Post-transformation measurements are extremely important to getting a feel for whether you’ve reached the optimized state you were going for – and can even tell you if you’re going to be staying there for any length of time. You may have improved, but this does not necessarily mean that your organisation will stay where you’ve ended up.
It’s also important to note that certain measurements may help you during your transformation but may not be so helpful afterwards. Measuring business value, for example, is difficult during transformation because not everyone will be measuring it the same way. Post-transformation, however, should become a standard measurement across the entire company.
You may still be confused, so below, we’ll help you get the most out of your Agile metrics with an idea of what you can begin measuring and why you may want to select the corresponding metric.
In no particular order:
1. Product Quality
Quality of a product can be measured in numerous ways. You may look at things like revenue growth, customer satisfaction, or even the technical aspects of testing.
Continuous testing and inspection throughout the lifecycle of the development should be carried out to get an accurate feel for product quality and how it has improved.
2. Delivery Performance
On time delivery is a popular measurement, and a worthwhile one to track. Your organisation should look for things like higher productivity across the organisation, higher quality within products, and less rework over time.
Measuring this shouldn’t be too difficult, and there are technology solutions you can use, such as spreadsheets for the metrics collection and reporting.
3. Customer Satisfaction
Being a customer-centric business in this day and age is key. Sales figures, net promoter scores, and number of support calls vs number of features delivered over an amount of time can give you an idea of customer satisfaction and how it is moving forward.
4. Product Scope
Setting goals over what to get done over the next few months, tracking it accurately, and then getting it done is very satisfying. Having real time feedback over the whole process is also extremely useful. Agile software development projects provide things like burndown charts to allow you to visualize the progress, giving you a more accurate representation of the product scope metric.
5. Project Visibility
Building trust with your customers is all about being a transparent business. One way to support transparency within your organisation is to have your plans out in the open and make your progress visible to everybody.
Sharing progress at multiple dimensions provides the different stakeholders with information that makes sense from their point of view. Metrics that show features or overall progress against a targeted plan can also provide great insights.
Bear in mind that you need to have alignment among your internal teams so that they can best manage their work in relation to component or service dependencies.
One popular metric used to measure predictability is velocity trend. Using this metric, you are able to see the work that has been completed at a sustainable pace over a 3-4 month period on average.
If your velocity metric tends to fluctuate a lot, this represents a team that is changing, unpredictable work, or a team that is still getting used to defining work small enough to complete in an iteration.
Productivity should actually be a measure of outcomes, not output. Looking at burnup for a product is hugely impactful in this instance. Looking at a burnup of count of stories or features over time is a nice way to understand how much your team is actually delivering.
Then there’s cycle time, which can help with things like predictability and planning. This is a good metric to view over a length of time to see if process tweaks and adjustments are positively impacting your productivity.
8. Team And Organisational Health
Agile approaches can induce positive cultural change by prioritizing people, teams and collaboration. The positive on your team and organisational health can be substantial.
Teams should work to become more efficient and effective, and people should become more engaged, be comfortable in their roles and feel valued when Agile is rolled out effectively. Of course this can also have an impact on a number of other metrics, including productivity.
9. Improvement Of Processes
There are more metrics above that could give you an idea of how your process is improving, but then there’s also a helpful flowchart that will give you an idea of how well work is flowing through the lifecycle.
Conclusion: Measuring The Impact Of Agile On Your Organisation
There is not a single metric that every organisation will use, so tailoring what you do follow in order to suit your business type and the results you would like to see is imperative.
What you track will be totally dependent on things like the organisation type, types of management, and the teams that need different metrics. You’ll need to consider this carefully beforehand to ensure that you’re measuring the right metrics and that you’re not wasting time following those that don’t really affect you or your process.
Remember, ‘you can’t manage what you can’t measure’ – start measuring the impact of Agile on your organisation now!