Making Sense of Agile Metrics

Leveraging the Agile methodology offers organizations a chance to streamline their software development process; ultimately making their business more efficient. Measuring the impact of Agile on an application engineering team becomes easier with the use of metrics. The ultimate question is: what kinds of metrics offer the meaningful information and actionable insights software engineers need?

What follows is a look at some examples of useful Agile metrics and how they are able to truly make this modern methodology work for a software development shop. Perhaps your team needs to look at using them as well?

Useful Agile Metrics for Software Development

An article for Extreme Uncertainty analyzed the use of Agile metrics and offered a few insights on which ones added value to the software development process. Let’s check them out.

A Burnup Chart gives the project manager or Scrum Master a view of a project’s overall progress by displaying a graph of how many stories are completed during each iteration compared to the total number of stories in the project. This is a simple metric able to be shared with business stakeholders curious about the current status of the work.

The article author, Leon Tranter, commented on the need to fully estimate the effort of each story for the Burnup Chart to be meaningful. If that estimation hasn’t been completed, he suggests using an average for any future stories.

Metrics related to Agile Stories

Estimating the development time for stories becomes easier when using metrics aimed at tracking the work spent on these portions of a project. Story cycle time measures the period it takes for a story to go from a ready for development state to its completion. Be sure to take into account the number of resources working on a story for the most accurate view of the overall effort.

Story lead time includes the period between the creation of the story and its ultimate completion. Subtracting cycle time from lead time helps measure the effort spent in analysis.

Story count is essentially the average number of completed stories during a sprint. Once again, combining these three metrics helps to measure the efficiency of a software development team during a project. It also serves nicely when estimating the effort on future projects or sprints.

Use First Time Pass Rate to track Quality

First time pass rate is a percentage used to track the test cases that pass either system integration testing or system testing on their first try. Tranter feels this is an especially vital metric for measuring the overall maturity level of a software development team’s use of Agile. His expectation for teams familiar with Agile is a rate of 95 to 100 percent. It definitely gives teams new to the methodology a goal worth reaching.

Hopefully, this quick analysis of a few Agile metrics offered some ideas on adding them to your own team’s software process reporting. They are especially worthy of consideration for shops embracing Agile for the first time.

Keep coming back to the Betica Blog for future news, stories, and insights from the rich world of software development. As always, thanks for reading!

News from the Worlds of Software Development and QA – November 2016

Welcome to this month’s look at a few interesting news stories from the worlds of Software Development and Quality Assurance. Last month, we covered Microsoft Teams – Redmond’s attempt to enter the enterprise social communication space dominated by Slack. November’s collection of news stories hopefully offers a few insights to apply to your daily work routine.

Without further adieu, here is the news!

Enterprises still struggling with Agile Software Development

An article in ZDNet from mid November takes a look at how enterprises are still finding it difficult to implement Agile as their software development methodology. The story is based off of a recent podcast between Santiago Comella-Dorda, Roberta Fusaro, and Gerard Speksnijder, all from the management consulting firm, McKinsey.

A main cause of problems is the large number of legacy systems in production at most enterprises. This makes it harder for their software project teams to be as nimble as required by Agile. Gerard Speksnijder commented on how this core issue isn’t present at startups or smaller firms.

“(Startups) don’t have the application-architecture legacy. There are no monolith applications. Everything typically is being defined in a pretty modular fashion, with lots of microservices, APIs, which allows you to make changes to the specific component of the application architecture. You can test it and release those features quite fast and without having lots of dependencies on other parts of your application landscape,” said Speksnijder.

The McKinsey analysts feel starting small, and using a product-based model, helps larger companies successfully implement Agile. They recently published a four-point program aimed at bringing Agile to the Enterprise. It is worth a perusal if your larger firm hopes to take advantage of this modern software development methodology.

DevOps is the Key for Success with Agile

Agile is definitely all over the IT news this month. CIO magazine published a piece describing the successful Agile implementation at Fannie Mae. A major factor in their success was an organizational structure based on DevOps.

A commitment to automation and a Continuous Deployment model for software delivery also played an important role. Using a racing metaphor, Fannie Mae CIO Frederic Veron described how DevOps helped his team achieve new benchmarks by doubling its software output over the last 18 months.

“If you do agile without DevOps, it’s like you’re trying to race with a tractor instead of a car. You can go and do the laps but it’s not going to go very fast, you’re probably going to consume a lot of fuel and it won’t be a lot of fun,” commented Veron. A software enhancement that used to take nine months is now fully implemented in 10 weeks using the Agile methodology, automated tools, and a DevOps organizational structure.

Needless to say, large and medium-sized companies need to consider switching to a DevOps structure at the same time they embrace Agile.

Well, this month’s post featured two valuable news stories from the trenches of the corporate software development world, as they try to leverage Agile for the purpose of faster software delivery. Starting with a small pilot program or completely restructuring your organization to a DevOps model raises your chances of success.

Stay tuned to upcoming editions of the Betica Blog for additional news and insights from the evolving world of software development. Thanks for reading.

A Look at the Modern Agile Movement

With over 15 years of usage in the software development industry, the Agile methodology continues to mature as its adoption rate grows. We’ve talked about fairly recent innovations, like DevOps, Scaled Retrospectives, and Tribes, as companies transform Agile techniques to make their technology operations run more efficiently.

This time out, our eyes turn towards Modern Agile, an evolution of the original Manifesto, focusing on a simpler process with the hope development teams are able to accomplish more in less time. Maybe implementing some of its principles makes sense at your shop? Let’s check it out.

What is “Modern Agile?”

Modern Agile positions itself as a simpler alternative to the classic Agile methodology. The creators of this movement feel traditional Agile is “drowning in a bloated tangle of enterprise tools, scaling frameworks and questionable certificates that yield more bureaucracy than results.” As such, Modern Agile doesn’t define roles, practices, or related responsibilities, with the hope that simplification returns Agile to the roots that made it popular in the first place.

The Four Guiding Principles of the Modern Agile Movement

Modern Agile’s only true definition comes from its four guiding principles. They are Make People Awesome; Make Safety a Prerequisite; Experiment & Learn Rapidly, and Deliver Value Continuously. Let’s take a closer look at each of these principles.

“Make People Awesome” relates to designing and building software applications with the express purpose of empowering the users of those applications. The development company is also expected to transform its operations based on this principle. Amazon followed a similar concept with their “Customer Obsession” mission when they first started in 1997.

“Make Safety a Prerequisite” raises the issues of quality and safety to a “foundational ingredient for success,” according to the Modern Agile creators. Fear of failure tends to stifle the efficiency of software development teams. Under this principle, attaching blame is never a focus; everyone works together to solve problems. This “safe” environment leads to an overall higher quality level in software delivery.

“Experiment and Learn Rapidly” turns the removal of the fear of failure into a system where experimentation and learning are championed. This is especially vital considering the rapid rate of change in the software industry, with new innovations happening on a monthly basis. Speed is of the essence with experimentation. If an experiment doesn’t work, the developer simply moves on to another idea.

“Deliver Value Continuously” is a key principle for Modern Agile, and is highly relevant for companies with a Continuous Delivery program. The focus is getting value into the client’s hands as quickly as possible. All three other principles of Modern Agile combine to make this final principle possible.

Modern Agile is a relatively new concept and opinions on it are mixed. Some feel it is simply a vague “vapor methodology.” Others feel the concepts are a breath of fresh air, giving a necessary reset to the increasingly bloated Agile movement. Implementing some of the principles as part of a traditional Agile or DevOps program makes perfect sense, especially for companies already doing Continuous Delivery.

Stay tuned to the Betica Blog for additional news and insights from the software development world. As always, thanks for reading!