Boosting Efficiency with Sprint Velocity
Have trouble meeting deadlines?
Sprint Velocity will bring structure to your teams.
Sprint Velocity is the key metric in a Scrum framework. In Agile teams, it refers to the analysis of past workloads to calculate how much work can be done in future sprints. Velocity is calculated at the end of the sprint by adding up the points for all completed Users Stories or customer requirements. With this prior knowledge, businesses can plan future projects knowing how much work can be completed in the next sprint. This helps them to accurately allocate time and resources to complete projects and tasks.
Furthermore, Sprint Velocity estimates give customers and stakeholders a better idea of when they can expect the delivery of products and services.
This guide will cover the best ways to improve Sprint Velocity. The common denominator is that to move faster, you must make the effort now and “plant the seeds” to enable higher productivity in future sprints.
How to estimate Sprint Velocity
To estimate what quantity of work can be completed in a set timeframe, first, teams must measure their previous work. For a good average measurement, they should review their previous three sprints. Here’s how:
Count the number of user story points completed in each of your last three sprints. At the end of a sprint, add up how many story points the team completed. Assume the following scenario:
SPRINT 1: The team had set out to complete 5 user stories with 10 points each, totaling 50 story points, but had completed just three user stories.
SPRINT 2: The team committed to 7 user stories (including the 2 that were not completed in Sprint 1. Again, each story had 10 points, making a total of 70 story points. The team completed 4 out of 7 of their user stories.
SPRINT 3: In Sprint 3, the team committed to nine user stories, each with 10 stories for a total of 90 story points and completed only 5 points.
Now calculate the average of completed story points.
3 X 10 = 30
4 X 10 = 40
5 X 10 = 50
120/3 = 40
You can now base the amount of expected amount work to be completed in future sprints on an average of 40 points.
If you have 120 points outstanding, you can reasonably expect your team to need three sprints to finish a project.
Five ways to accelerate the Product-to-market process
By harnessing and improving your Sprint Velocity and Technological capabilities, your organisation can react more quickly and efficiently to market challenges.
- Don’t Waste Time on Unnecessary Testing
While automation and maintenance are essential, they can limit a team’s velocity. But you can save time by discarding non-essential tests on features that are either unused or already covered by other testing mechanisms.
- Increase the Quality
Increasing quality means more investment in code reviews and testing. But it is a worthwhile investment. Putting more effort into creating sustainable software minimises promblems and helps production to move t greater velocity.
- Add External Resources or Training
Hire internal or external third-party consultants to assist you with infrastructure set-up. Use training initiatives to help team members upskill and supplement the team with new members who already have those skills.
- Optimise Sprint Planning Meetings
Advance planning can boost efficiency dramatically. It is a great opportunity to bring your team together to establish what everyone’s responsibilities are for the next sprint.
For your sprint planning meeting, write up task breakdowns for the next one to three sprints, and only “stubs” for user stories in the next four to five sprints.
This added transparency helps to identify challenges, dependencies, and to consider approaches and technical solutions, thus keeping your team ahead of the game.
- Sprint Retrospective and Process Review
Sprint retrospective is essential for helping teams develop and enhance their processes. The key to success in any enterprise is communication, and that requires people sitting down with each other from time to time to address and resolve practical and technical problems.
How to stabilise and improve Sprint Velocity
Velocity is crucial, but it is ultimately just an estimate and therefore cannot be solely relied upon for calculating progress. To get the maximum possible benefit oout of Sprint Velocity, you may need to add stabilisation sprints into the equation.
What are Stabilisation Sprints?
Stabilisation sprints are added to the end of your team’s normal development cycle before the product or service is shipped. These are used to perform testing, resolve technical backlogs, clean up code, fix bugs, and much more.
You will not ordinarily need to track velocity in stabilisation sprints because you are not adding any new story points. A ResearchGate study found that velocity always fluctuated in the first few iterations from sprint to sprint. The report also discovered that velocity is mmore likely to stabilise after completing at least three iterations.
Things to consider for Stabilisation and Improvement
- Keep your user stories clear and simple
- While dispensing with unnecessary testing is important, so is implementing rigorous testing where necessary
- Use sprint retrospectives to revise how to stabilise velocity. Focus on communication and team coordination.
- Eliminate time-consuming dependencies
- Put quality above quantity
- Keep team membership and size consistent
Things to consider for your sprint Backlog
The cornerstone of any Agile Scrum framework is transparency. This applies to team members and technology alike. For communication and efficiency, all team members must be involved in the development of the sprint backlog.
- Daily Review
Routine updates will ensure that your backlog reflects the progress of the team and adapts to meet their Sprint Goal. This will help team members to adjust their priorities and targets accordingly. It is important that Scrum teams invite as many people to participate as possible – diverse feedback is essential for making progress.
- Escalate Impediments
Impediments can prevent you from reaching your Sprint Goal, which is why Agile Scrum frameworks are designed to be resilient and adaptable. Being proactive and tackling issues upfront empowers teams to find the most suitable adjustments and solutions before the issue becomes a burden on the overall project.
- Stick to Your Guns
Your team should never add or remove stories from the Backlog once the Sprint has begun. This would be the equivalent to an architect redesigning a skyscraper while the construction team was half-way there. It should only ever be considered as an absolute last resort. Remaining consistent is the best way of avoiding painstaking disruptions and delays.
- Make Use of Subtasks
While subtasks are often the best way of organising work around a story, they risk distracting your team from the Sprint Goal in hand. Team members should take on subtasks while the story lead should take on the story hosting those subtasks. This structure provides accountability keeps teams on track.
To summarise, there are many different methods that Agile organisations can implement to increase their Sprint Velocity. Done correctly, the combination of Sprint Velocity and high-quality software technology has the potential to help your organisation double its efficiency and productivity.
It will also help you avoid overpromising your clients and stakeholders on product and service delivery.
The ability to move quickly is paramount but going that extra mile to plant the seeds of efficiency is key to ensuring productivity and sustainability in the long term.