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Use Metrics in your Retrospectives

Advanced

difficulty

Stage 4

Agile IQ® Level

Retrospective

Event

Introduction

Many teams leap to make changes without understanding whether their improvement actions have any real impact.

Metrics in retrospectives

Gathering data is an important part of advanced Retrospectives. Important data to examine include:

  • Quality, defects and re-work
  • Velocity trends
  • Accuracy of estimations – was the “S” really a “S” or did it take as long as a “L”?
  • Lead time and cycle time
  • Agile IQ behaviours – self organisation, agile values, Sprinting and culture of continuous learning

Quality

If the team’s quality is low, if there is a lot of rework, then tighten the Definition of Done. If the team is strict in its adherence to the Definition of Done then quality should improve and defects should reduce.

Velocity 

Velocity is the average amount of Product Backlog that can be turned into an Increment of Done. Velocity trends should improve as a team gets better at delivering the same type of work. Velocity can go down due to:

  • New team members being introduced to the team. It takes the team a while to learn how to work together with its new members.
  • Planned vacation time when there are fewer team members.
  • School holidays.
  • Team members on unplanned (sick) leave.
  • Public holidays.
  • New work that the team is capable of doing, but might not have delivered together before.

Use Retrospective to talk about velocity trends:

  • How much does our velocity go down when people are on unplanned leave?
  • What causes our velocity to remain high?
  • What causes our velocity to dip? Is it new work?
velocity trends team voltron
Above: Velocity goes up and down depending on issues in the team's environment

How accurate are your estimations

How long do your “S” items take (in days) to go from in-progress to Done? What about “M” and “L” sized work?¬†

Cluster Backlog Items by the number of days it took from in-progress to Done. There may be no difference in delivery time between certain sizes like “S” and “M”.

task-finger-bandage

Remember

Estimate the size of the work it will take to deliver the Product Backlog item to Done as a team. Don't estimate tasks and don't use hours or days for estimation.

Lead Time and Cycle Time

Lead Time is the total time it takes for a request to be actioned and delivered to Done.

Cycle Time is the time an item takes to move from in-progress to Done.

Cluster Backlog Items by the number of days it took from in-progress to Done. There may be no difference in delivery time between certain sizes like “S” and “M”.

etimation comparison of pbis with cycle time
Above: Are your estimations accurate?

Measuring Agile Behaviours

As agile behaviours strengthen, you should see a corresponding increase in the following Agile IQ measures:

  • Self-organisation
  • Agile Values
  • Sprinting
  • Continuous Learning Culture

Do a new team assessment every couple of months and decide as a team how you will improve these measures:

  • Can the team be more self-organising if they facilitate events themselves?
  • Is the team working at a sustainable pace? What would it take to help the team work at a sustainable pace instead of feeling frantic and overburdened all the time?
  • How can you improve feedback in Sprint Review?
  • How can you improve inspection and adaptation of Scrum artefacts like the Sprint Goal and Sprint Backlog?
  • Is there a new skill the team can learn that will help solve complex problems?
task-finger-bandage

Tip

Do a team assessment every month. Compare the results to last assessment. And then look for improvement actions that align to your team's maturity stage.

Actions to try

Set the scene

Ask the team to talk about the improvement actions that they did this Sprint. Ask questions like:

  • What were the actions?
  • What did they expect to happen as a result of these tasks?
  • What metrics were supposed to improve?

Gather data

Examine the metrics you used:

  • Did the metrics change?
  • Which ones changed?
  • How much did they change by?

Generate insights

  • What metrics changed?
  • What metrics stayed the same?
  • Did they go up or down?
  • Did nothing happen?¬†

Decide next steps

  • Choose some new actions
  • Select a metric that will show the action is having the desired impact

Things to watch out for

  • Be careful not to choose “vanity” metrics.
  • Don’t use velocity to compare teams.
  • Don’t choose too many metrics. Choose one or two that make sense for the improvement you’ve chosen.
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