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What Does Velocity in Agile Means?

Updated: Apr 14

“There is power in act of seeking knowledge, for one’s understanding is dependent upon one’s willingness to learn.”

Most of us always go with the understanding we have and do not try to know or learn from the perspective of the system. We many times unknowingly become judgmental and assume as per our understanding. This happens not only in cases of individuals, or situations but also in cases of words. For example, in agile velocity is a crucial word used which carries a lot of importance in the agile system. But do we always consider and understand it right? Do we know the purpose, benefits, or key factors of velocity in agile?

We directly assume that it means the same as we do in other general ways and needed to be measured and upgraded similarly in agile. But it is always better to have a complete understanding of it and know what it stands for. Learning and understanding it in the right required way where it is used will solve half of the problem as you will already know what the whole system is for and how the specific factor contributes to it. So today we will learn what does velocity means in agile and what its purpose is in agile.

In general, for agile, we know velocity as a measure to know how fast a team is going in their work. In most cases, it does its purpose but in cases where we need to calculate the team's velocity, this definition of velocity creates confusion. This confusion in calculation occurs because of understanding definition in two ways:

  • As it means to calculate functionality of team delivers in a sprint.

  • Secondly, it means calculating the team’s ability in turning ideas into functionality during a sprint.

For example let’s see how the above points are applied to the agile project, consider the issues on measuring the bug fix or not in velocity calculation. The team measuring only functionality delivered in a sprint will not count bug fixes whereas, the team turning new ideas in functionality will count the bug fix, as they will claim bug fixing time they can be used in creating functionality. Both the definition of velocity in agile is not satisfactory.

Instead of using the above two, it is better to define velocity as the average amount of work a team can complete within the given timeframe. So it is always better to use the velocity to guide you in uncovering the inefficiencies in the process. Always while calculating agile velocity depend on what’s your purpose to measure it and what you want to derive from it in the future.

Key Factors in Measuring Agile Velocity

Sprint Workload

The number of user stories we are delivering in this iteration. In specific, how many product backlog items we are moving from to-do list to to-done list.

Sprint Length

What length do we have to deliver this product backlog or user stories? How long this sprint will be? Is it achievable based on the previous sprint to deliver the user stories?

Burn-down Chart

This chart shows the remaining items to be executed from the list against the time remaining in the sprint.

Measuring the Agile Velocity

The agile velocity can be measured in various ways like user stories, story points, and engineering hours. Similarly, the timeframe can also be measured in various ways like iterations, sprints, and weeks. So take the units as per your future measures. To explain agile velocity measurement we will use an example, the scrum team will see how many user stories they can complete in a single sprint and of what length. So by knowing this for almost two to three sprints they can calculate the average velocity of their team to complete user stories in a sprint. This average velocity can be used for the further sprint to complete the user stories. Hence we can estimate the time it will take to complete a project.

In many teams, the agile velocity is used to increase the team’s efficiency which is not correct. When the scrum master sees that the team's agile velocity is decreasing, they pressure team members to improve this velocity considering that it will also increase the team’s efficiency. Instead of doing so, the scrum masters must evaluate the causes of the team’s inefficient instead of pressuring them. With also seeing the lower velocity we must also observe increasing velocity. Increasing agile velocity can also decrease the quality of a solution.

“Understanding variation helps in building the success of quality and business.”

About Advance Agility

We, at Advance Agility, are the new-age Agile Coaching, Consulting and IT services company. We enable end-to-end Digital Transformation. Agile execution is integral to our being. We are doing SAFe implementation with small, medium and large organization across the globe. Our vision is to be the leading Agile execution player globally. To keep adding value at every process stage. We are on a mission to empower our clients, move from concept to cash in the shortest sustainable lead time by adopting human centric approach to business agility. Embracing the change is in our DNA. Things that keep us apart are Quicker and Seamless execution with End-to-end gamut of services. Our Global presence and Stellar Track Record give us an edge over our competitor.

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