Measuring Agile Progress – Not Losing Sight of the Big Picture

Agile, while light on “metrics,” does have some artifacts that are used to help track progress. Burndown and Burnup charts are extremely helpful in measuring sprint progress and helping to correct course. Capacity and velocity measurements are great at helping us determine how and what to plan for a sprint and a release. These are important measures in determining if we are going to deliver working software on a regular basis, but I don’t think they tell the whole story. In order to measure how far we have come (and how far we may still need to go), I have come up with another method of measuring progress, the Agile Principles survey.

In 2001, the Agile Manifesto and Agile Principles was ratified and published. It is these principles that form the basis of Agile, no matter what methodology you choose to implement. To me this is the big picture. We may (or may not) complete all stories in a sprint, we may (or may not) find a consistent velocity, etc., but if we do not do well at following the overriding principles can we say that we are truly Agile? Maybe, maybe not, but I doubt we could call ourselves Agile “mature.” In the end, we are all a bunch of scrum butts and Agility is not binary. Agility is a continuum. Just because we are used to thinking in terms of black and white and 1s and 0s, does not mean that the world (or Agile) falls into our neat little categories. It irks me to no end when someone tells me that a team is not Agile. Every team is Agile, but it is a matter of degree. No team is 0% and no team is 100%.

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