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What Is Velocity In Agile & How To Use It

What is Velocity in Agile?
What is Velocity in Agile? In short, a process to understand work progress and plan. But it needs to be done right!

What is Velocity in Agile? Well, Velocity in Agile is all about understanding a range of throughput for the team. In software and product development, it is a tool to help understand and plan for future iterations or sprints. But is it being used appropriately?

What is Velocity in Agile? In short, it is a metric, where you calculate how long work has taken to complete in a given sprint. Typically in user stories or story points completed. This allows the team and those managing to estimate how long future work and projects will take to finish.

Why is Velocity in Agile important

Using a tool like velocity helps to measure progress. Enabling teams to understand if they are on track, work is at risk, and more. It also is a planning tool, to help teams to plan for reasonable and adequate amounts of work. Helping the team to plan out future work accordingly.

This makes velocity tracking an important tool for planning out resources for the team. Helping to identify work that can be done in given sprints or iterations. As well as trying to determine time frames and deliverables.

How to use Velocity in Agile

All too often I see velocity used as an exact metric. A measure of the team’s performance. In story points, or in stories completed, or whatever metric is used. Exact completion is expected. The issue there is that it is a guidance tool. It is not an exact metric. We should not expect teams to complete exactly that amount of work, sprint after sprint. Besides the fact that working time, and a multitude of other factors change constantly. The work itself is constantly different. Thus the metric of how much of that work is supposed to get done, can’t always be the same.

I argue that Velocity in Agile is just as much art as it is science. It is a guide, and a tool to be leveraged. It is not an exact measurement or metric. Teams should leverage it, but use it as a guide. It is a range to fall into, or outside of.

Overall, Velocity in Agile is a good metric

I believe that using velocity in Agile is a good metric. It is common and easy to use. The most common mistake I see used, is again, going back to tracking against it as an exact value. I would not recommend that and caution against using it as some exact value to be obtained.

However, if you use it well, it can help you understand how your team is doing in a current sprint. It can also be leveraged to identify common causes of dips in velocity or issues with the team completing work. I use velocity tracking and highly recommend it as a tool for the team.

By using it well, I mean using it as a guide and an approximation tool. Or a range to determine if work done falls into a “healthy” category. Not an exact metric to be obtained.

Additional content to help understand what is Velocity in Agile

Velocity in Agile goes hand in hand with many of the other great Agile practices and processes. Things like Agile estimation of work and story points. Or things like vertical slicing and just in time requirement gathering. If looking to learn more about using Velocity in Agile, or looking to learn more about Agile in general, check out the below items.

If wondering what is Velocity in Agile, the below content will help learn the process.

Additionally, a great read on what is velocity in Agile can be found here.