Agile Metrics and KPIs: Measuring Success in Agile Projects

Agile projects' success metrics are measured little differently than traditional projects as they are iterative and incremental.  The common success pillars that most organizations concern and care about are:
  • Value: Are we meeting the business needs?
  • Predictability: The ability to plan and deliver
  • Productivity: Getting more done in the same time or with the same resources
  • Quality: A product or service free of defects and well optimized.
  • Stability: The organization can maintain this pace indefinitely
The basic metrics covering the above 5 pillars can be:
  • Planned Vs Delivered items - How much we planned to commit delivering during our PI-planning and how much we delivered at the end of the PI. This also indirectly talks about Business Agility of the team. Lot of factors should be considered while calculating this metric. 
  • Were there any blockers during PI-execution.
  • Any interdependencies between trains or external teams
  • Infrastructure and environment issues causing slowness in delivery
  • Unplanned absences.
  1. Program Predictability Measure (PPM) - This measure says how well the team is able to predict and plan their next 10 weeks. Though it goes hand-in-hand with above metric, PPM do not denote the achievement rather the team’s ability to plan well during PI-Planning which gives business and epic owners the confidence on teams’ planning.
It is usually calculated as PPM - (ABV of committed + ABV of Uncommitted)/BV of Committed *100   ABV - Actual Business Value achieved for the committed/uncommitted PI objectives BV - Original Business Value of committed PI objectives.
  1. Cycle Time  - How much time taken to complete a story or defect is measured through this metric. This predicts how productive the team is. Cycle time is your direct connection to throughput and is a way to measure team productivity. The shorter the cycle time, the more things are getting done in a given timebox. Cycle time can be most simply measured from when work starts to when the work is done.
  1. Defect SLA - How many defects missed SLA and how many met are measured in this metric. The SLA is a defined Service Level agreed in the initial contract. For eg. “the high priority defects should be resolved in 10 business days, critical priority in 3 business days.” . Through this metric, we can identify the escaped defects and pinpoint to the rootcause of it.
  1. Retention ratio - How well the team is stable,  how are we growing , learning and retaining our key team members can be measured in this ratio. It could be simply calculated with no.of resources in team and resources left in a specific period of time.
The Scaled Agile Framework has given a wonderful guidance on measuring metrics here - https://scaledagileframework.com/measure-and-grow/ . This would set a path for any organization who would want to deep-dive into measuring metrics. I personally love the assessment sheets to measure various competencies under various dimensions provided by SAFe.
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