Agile Metrics

This article presents guidelines and examples of metrics you as a leader can help set for the group or team

It is really important that an organization does not measure only to demonstrate to others in the company that things are getting done. There is a false sense of comfort in these metrics. It is important to measureless.

“Remember – What you measure gets done”

–Attribute pending

5 rules when selecting metrics: ( VOIRS Rule)

  • Make what you measure, is Visible.  Everyone should be able to see what is being measured. Customer satisfaction survey results -outcome metric, velocity – output metric. A good mix is always required.
  • Outcome driven metrics always produce better results that output driven metrics.
  • Make it Inclusive let those who you want to measure have a say on how they want to be measured. Get input from teams. If you get buy-in from teams then metrics makes a lot of sense
  • Make it Real-Time. – If metrics need translation by humans in an excel sheet there is something wrong with such metrics.
  • System metrics are better than People metric. Measure more of how the system is doing and less of how people are doing.

Measuring Process Effectiveness

Measuring ability to reach Strategic goals at a regular cadence

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Any product or service organization has business goals. These goals are often things like  ( in this case we have shown an airline example )

  • One Integrated Airline Booking Experience
  • Reduce customer complaints by 30 %
  • The launch of 4 more cities for new flights.

When it comes down to the teams these goals are compounded with so many other little internal goals etc that somewhere along the lines, the big picture goal is lost. So leadership job is to regularly communicate these goals and make sure everyone in your organization is focused around these key goals. There will be other things but many times those other internal work items slow down the more important strategic priorities.

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In the example above 9 different epics have to be done to get the three goals achieved. Each epic could be made of many many smaller epics or smaller user stories or backlog items.

So how do we measure things from here?

MetricLead Time – This is the time when the requirement was first identified in the organization and added as the core component of the strategic initiative to the time it was actually delivered to the customer.  Tools can do this easily. The difference of end and start is the lead time.

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Monitor “Cycle time”.

Cycle time is the time taken at each step. in the doing column. Time from the time some work start till it is finished. The customer does not see it

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Lead Time is = Sum of Wait Times + Sum of Cycle Time. In this case, we are taking Cycle Time to be the actual Value Add time. Really go and figure out where waits are in the process and help remove these waits. Waits are often seen

  • when people are waiting for approvals,
  • Only a few people in the organization can get some things done. Remove the silos.

All the work note ” All of the work” a team does should go from one list. 

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Show a live report of where these epics are at any given moment

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Measuring Agility.

How do we know how Agile we are. It’s surely not a gut feeling or some massive assessment. Assess systems, not people. Using Agile Principles as a measure of Agility.

http://agilemanifesto.org/principles.html

Shown here is an Agile Principles Card. Have each team sort through the 12 principles from “Yes to do it” green or no we don’t do it ” Red”. Collectively prioritize the red ones and then come up with action items as story cards to move items from Red to Green.

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Measuring Product Effectiveness

Customer Satisfaction 

If you have a good product you should see higher customer satisfaction. Regular customer feedback collected real time from customers should be shared as is with teams that produced that feature. A much-debated technique is called Net Promoter Score. It is just one measure and should be used for what its worth. A point of reference.

Amount of features in the product that is actually used. 

80 % of the features we produce are hardly used. You could use the four categories in the Kano Model https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCT_97.htm

Every product manager should know how many of the four categories of features they have from the Kano Model in their product

As per this model, every feature can be categorized into:

  • Mandatory features – Must be present in order for users to be satisfied.
  • Linear Features – The more of this is better
  • Exciters or Delighters – These are not the reason we buy a product for. A feature she does not know exists until she uses it.

fullkanomodel

The image above is from http://foldingburritos.com

Mandatory Features – Customers are quite indifferent to must-be featured. For Eg Do you ever buy a phone because it makes a phone call?

Linear features – Customer satisfaction is more around linear or performance features

Exciters or Delighters – These are huge pluses to customer satisfaction. For eg the first time Gmail said, Hey you have forgotten to attach a document when your document says something is attached.

Collect data about all the features in the product broken down by the three categories in real time. This can be achieved when you tag epics as a Linear, Mandatory or Exciter in your Product Backlog tool.

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Measuring Leadership Effectiveness

A #1 reason for Agile to not be as successful in the organization is due to lack of middle management support. See State of Agile Survey By Version One. 

 

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– the picture above is from State of Agile Survey By Version One

As you look through the list, it is clear that effective leadership can actually help resolve a lot of these challenges listed. So how do we measure effective leadership?

  • Are leaders solving daily the biggest impediments of the organization? Are they helping daily?
  • Are they delegating decisions down where information exists and don’t punish people for making decisions?
  • Are they setting clear boundaries for teams to operate in?
  • Have they separated feedback from performance reviews?  Feedback should be routine not drama.

This can be collected from teams from regular automated surveys or 360 feedback. Leadership effectiveness is a much bigger topic that we will surely address in a later blog.

Conclusion:

This article presents very few metrics mainly around three categories Process Effectiveness,  Product Effectiveness, and Leadership Effectiveness.  Note that velocity is an output indicator and not good to measure effectiveness. It can simply be used to predict future dates that is all and it is a lagging indicator.  Also, note that it is important that all of this be automated and be touch-free leaving nothing to interpretation. Also, this is the main metrics that should measure and it’s really up to you as long as you pay attention to  VOIRS rule. 

Make it useful, measureless, get more done….