Agile Metrics in Action: Measuring and Enhancing the Performance of Agile Teams

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Agile Metrics in Action: Measuring and Enhancing the Performance of Agile Teams by Christopher W. H. Davis

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Development teams adopt agile practices differently based on team members, time commitments, the type of project being developed, and the software available, to name only a few factors. As quoted from the Agile Manifesto, teams should have regular check and adjust periods where they can reflect on how well they’re working and how they can improve. This book demonstrates how to gather performance data to measure an agile team, interpret it, and react to it at check and adjust intervals so the team can reach their full potential.


After years of working on agile teams, I’ve noticed that many times teams check and adjust based on gut feelings or the latest blog post someone read. Many times teams don’t use real data to determine what direction to go in or to rate their team or their process. You don’t have to go far to find the data with development, tracking, and monitoring tools used today. Applications have very sophisticated performancemonitoring systems; tracking systems are used to manage tasks; and build systems are flexible, simple, and powerful. Combine all of this with modern deployment methodologies and teams shipping code to production multiple times a day in an automated fashion, and you have a wealth of data you can use to measure your team in order to adjust your process.


I’ve used the techniques in this book over the years, and it has been a game changer in how my teams think about their work. Retrospectives that start with conversations around data end up being much more productive and bring to light real issues to work on instead of going off of guesswork or opinion. Being able to set metrics with a team and using them in Scrums, retrospectives, or anywhere else throughout the development process helps the team focus on issues and filter out noise or celebrate parts of the process that are working well.


Finally, having this data at their fingertips typically makes managers and leadership teams happy because it gives them real insight into how the teams they’re sponsoring and responsible for are really performing. They can see how their initiatives affect their teams and ultimately the bottom line.


I started using these techniques as a developer who wanted to report to leadership the true picture of the performance of my team. As I transitioned into management, I started to look at this data from another angle and encouraged my team to do the same, adding data they thought was important that reflected their day-to-day work. As I transitioned into a more senior management position, I’ve been able to look at this data from yet another perspective to see how strategies, initiatives, and investments affect cross-team efforts, how to bring operating efficiencies from one team to another, and how to track success on a larger scale. No matter what your role is on an agile development team, I’m sure you’ll be able to apply these techniques with success in your organization.


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