Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My inferences from AgilePalooza



It’s been a while that I have posted a blog and I had promised myself today to put my thoughts on events over the past week or so. First off, things are getting too busy at work with new assignment of Scrum Master Duties, in addition to a full plate of work I already had. But no complains there as I enjoy being a scrum master and eventually what matters is the satisfaction I get on the contribution I made to the success of a project.

Last week we had an entire day event “AgilePalooza – EMC Private day” organized by VersionOne  at EMC.  One would expect such sessions to be product centric and more of marketing and sales pitch about their product. Anyone coming to this event with that expectation would have been disappointed as that was indeed not the case. The entire event was filled with tons of good Agile/Scrum experience. There were really knowledgeable speakers like Mike Cottmeyer from Pillar Technologies and Giora Morein from Big Visible, sharing their experiences on enterprise Agile/Scaling. There were some good discussions on certain topics that I would start listing out in my upcoming blogs.

But here’s one...

I mentioned in one my earlier blog that Velocity of the teams can’t be compared and that’s still true. However, one of the speakers mentioned that Velocity metric can be used to compare teams and see which team is more efficient. I was taken aback a bit, but this makes sense…

Here’s an example – In this hypothetical example, consider both teams started at the same time, with the same expertise, with the same sprint duration and the same estimation skills. The table below tells us that Team A is improving with each iteration. Their velocity is going up with each sprint and seems like 30 is an average velocity this team will attain in future iterations.

Team A velocity over certain interval
Sprint 1
20
Sprint 2
25
Sprint 3
28
Sprint 4
30
Sprint 5
30

Team B velocity over certain interval
Sprint 1
15
Sprint 2
10
Sprint 3
14
Sprint 4
12
Sprint 5
10

Compare it to team B and it seems that they have been struggling. The velocity of team is in the range of 10 to 15 and at no point can you predict what can be realistically achieved by this team. So if comparison is done in this order there is no doubt Team A is far superior to another.

Any thoughts?

1 comment:

Giora Morein said...

Though I think you can compare the 'velocity pattern' of different teams it offers very limited purpose - and certainly no purpose with out an understanding of the context. The pattern above does not mean that Team A is producing more than Team B. It does not mean that the quality of Team A is better than Team B; nor that Team A produces more value than Team A. All the comparison shows you is that the measurement (velocity) is more consistent for Team A than Team B.

I think it is important to ask "What am I trying to observe or learn?" - in the case of comparing these two team's velocity, I'm not sure you learn much. To me the fluctuating Velocity of team B implies stories bleeding over from one sprint to the next. If I want to predict how much can be accomplished in the future, I would use some type of trailing average velocity. That being said, the pattern observed in Team B should warrant additional investigation.

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