Measuring Agile Metrics
In a previous post, I mentioned isolation as a common mistake that some organizations make when trying to implement Scrum. This week, I’m going to delve into the mysteries of company metrics and the mistakes that arise with them.
Metrics are simply the methods we use to measure the world. Time is a metric we are all experienced with, and it is sometimes overused by organizations. I’ve worked quite a few jobs where the only metric used is how long I was at work, and how long I spent on the objective I was assigned.
The way Scrum uses metrics is both different and hard to understand for those of us not used to it, and we make a mistake if we try to use them without understanding the method fully. Part of Scrum metrics has to do with effort points that are partially arbitrary but are used as a more accurate measuring point over the time of multiple sprints (a length of time where the team works towards a singular goal).
These metrics are different then time, as the goal is to increase the amount of effort points one can do in a sprint. Said plainly, mixing effort points and time metrics is like oil and water–both have their place but not together.
After teams and organizations understand and use these metrics, another mistake companies may make is weaponizing the metrics against their employees. This can look like incentivizing teams to get a certain amount of effort points, or comparing team effort points in order to judge a team’s success. Neither of these tactics end well.
The metrics that Scrum utilizes are supposed to be used for the team’s improvement, not for its court trial. It is not evidence for an ineffective team, but rather a measurement for the Scrum Master as they try to look into how the team flows and how they can improve.
Aligning with values from the Agile Manifesto, “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools”, metrics are best as a means to support Individuals, not as a goal in and of themselves.
As always, we focus to improve, and that’s where these metrics can be used effectively–and at least somewhat enjoyably.
What are some metrics that you’ve used in companies? Did they work? I would love to read them in the comments below.