In this episode of Trainer Talk – the supplemental series to the Agile Coaches’ Corner podcast – Professional Scrum Trainer Eric Landes addresses the question: “How do you measure a Scrum team’s performance?
What Does the Scrum Guide Say About Measuring Performance?
In many of our Scrum classes, I’m asked about the issue of measuring a Scrum team’s performance. It is a good question, and the Scrum Guide does give some information that states that one of the inputs of Sprint planning is the past performance of the development team. It also states that the daily Scrum optimizes team collaboration and performance by inspecting work. In these two statements, we learn that Scrum does want to help optimize team’s performance. So, how do we measure that? When we go back to our question, let’s talk about why we should measure a Scrum team’s performance. As the Scrum Guide mentions, we do need that as an input to Sprint planning.
Velocity is not the Best Measure
For this input, many teams use a velocity chart to understand past performance. This is a complimentary practice to Scrum. It’s not actually asked for in the Scrum Guide or prescribed, but it is one well-established way to measure performance along with Sprint burndown charts and release burndown charts. I find that velocity may not be the best measure.
Use Kanban Metrics to Measure and Forecast
If this question is more about helping the team understand and communicate delivery performance, there are tools like cumulative flow charts and throughput that could be used. These metrics come from a Kanban perspective and these tools help teams understand their flow and can be used to communicate forecasts.
For instance, your team may have throughput of one PBI done each day. Just as an example, or a for instance, using the past metrics are never one hundred percent accurate. It can help teams as they go into Sprint planning and Kanban even gives you a forecasting method called Monte Carlo simulations that can help with this. Now this is a complex topic for sure, but the main purpose of this Trainer Talk is to introduce you to concepts beyond team velocity charts and burndown charts.
Many Kanban metrics can be used to help teams understand their delivery capabilities better and achieve a flow that are hallmarks of many mature teams. Scrum.org even has a class called Professional Scrum with Kanban that teaches participants to get to that flow and to help measure that flow.
Find What Works for your Team
If you are interested in different ways to measure a Scrum team’s performance, I urge you to check out some of these other metrics. There is no one size fits all. So, make sure it works for your team and self-organize around the way your team measures performance.