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Can we use Traditional metrics as-is in Agile?

Figure 2 Traditional Metrics do not fit in Scrum

Traditional Metrics usually focus on measuring various aspects of planned versus actual. The idea is to track any variances against the detailed plan. They also measure quantum or size  of scope delivery. 

Intention of these metrics is to measure and showcase the efficiency of the delivery be it the schedule or cost adherence, Scope delivered or quality of the delivery.

Some of the usual metrics companies track are

  1. Schedule Variance or Cost Variance
  2. Size of work packets (KLOC / No of use cases / No of test cases etc)
  3. Scope adherence – how we track Scope variance or rework and how we reduce the rework
  4. Productivity  

The above metrics are set to track if we are delivering as per agreed plan. – But in Scrum and Agile the plans are changing often as we believe that while planning is indeed valuable – plans need to be updated often. Then these metrics to track against a plan do not seem relevant when plans are being updated very often.

Another key point missing in the above metrics is the focus on value – Agile Manifesto says that as agilists our highest priority is to deliver Valuable Software. The metrics listed above measure only “what work the team did” they do not measure “what Value was generated” – For a Scrum Team to ensure their effectiveness and efficiency we need metrics that can quantify the Value.

Do we need Metrics in Agile Projects?

We saw in earlier section that traditional metrics do not help when working in an Agile manner. The question then comes to mind is, do you really need metrics while working in Agile?

The answer is a definite yes – When done well, Metrics provide us with transparency by giving quantified information that does not depend upon individual perception. This quantified information helps us to inspect the work we are doing and the value we are delivering. The inspection then allows us to adapt our way of working to improve the value we deliver.

In other words, metrics help us to work in an empirical manner.

Figure 3 Why do we need Metrics in Agile?

What should we measure while working in Scrum?

In my experience there are 3 major dimensions where metrics provide us basis or the transparency to inspect and adapt

  1. Value – Are we delivering Value? Scrum focuses on Value and our Product Owner is tasked in maximizing value of product. We need to have metrics that quantify and capture the value we have created. 
  2. Frequency – Are we delivering value frequently enough so that we help our customers have competitive advantage? – Agile Manifesto tells us that we believe in continuous delivery of valuable products. 
  3. Day to Day Metrics – These are the metrics which helps the Scrum Team to inspect and then adapt their way of working so that they become more effective and efficient.