What is velocity?

In agile software development, velocity measures the speed at which teams and team members complete tasks or the rate of progress. It is the number of stories the team can complete and ship in one sprint. You can compute velocity by calculating the number of units of work accomplished in a given time frame (such as a sprint). Using velocity for productivity measurement is also referred to as velocity tracking.

The agile team defines what is considered a single unit. There are various categories of metrics used. For instance, the number of hours worked, the number of projects completed, and the abstract measurements like story points and effort estimation.

Without velocity, it is hard for you to estimate the burndown of your team. Velocity represents the number of story points that have been completed in a given time frame and is shown as a slope in a standard burndown chart.

Measuring Velocity In Agile

Velocity in agile is measured by calculating the number of units of work done within a given time. The work units are measured in user stories, story points, or engineer hours. Time frame is measured in sprints, iterations, or weeks.

For instance, scrum teams calculate the number of user points in a specific sprint in measuring the agile velocity. When it is measured based on a small number of sprints, the team can estimate the number of user points to incorporate to compete in the sprint. Subsequently, it indicates the number of sprints required to complete a project, enabling the team to calculate efficiency along the way.

When measuring velocity in agile, try to keep it simple and allow it to guide you in discovering the inefficiencies along the way.

In analyzing the velocity, the movement of the trend is not always an indication of what is happening. An upward trend is not always positive, and a downward trend is not always negative. However, both directions can lead you to deeper areas of the development process, which is instrumental to achieving efficiency while maintaining a technical quality.

Does Velocity Measure Efficiency?

Raw numbers in agile velocity are not indicative of efficiency because they do not reveal much information. Thus, velocity should not be used as an efficiency goal. Trends help in measuring and improving efficiency.

For velocity to predict the project’s completion date, you should estimate the user stories making up the project in a consistent way. This consistency is achieved in two ways. First, evaluate user stories before the project begins or during the first few iterations. Second, use relative estimation to ensure that future estimates are consistent with ones made during the initial stages of the project.

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