The Agile-V Balanced Scorecard Metrics

[article]

stories. Worst of all, the same amount of team energy has been spent on the lowest priority stories as the highest value stories. This anti-pattern is a productivity killer and needs quick exposure. A properly prioritized backlog that is worked down in priority order guarantees that the team's energy is focused on closing stories that create the most value for the client. Can this intangible team focus be measured in the Balanced Scorecard sense so that it is visible, motivating, and directly linked to business value?

There are articles in Agile literature that emphasizethe importance of tracking completed stories as a measurement of business value delivered for each sprint. [4] Completed storiesare an extremely valuable metric and provide great visibility to the business value delivered with each sprint for the project duration.
 

The Burn-Up Chart(Stories Completed)
The measurement of stories completed during a sprint has been called a quot;burn-upquot; chart, and is suggested as a measure of scope change within a sprint. [5] Additionally, itindicates business value delivered and tracks progress towards release to the customer. Story burn-up shows business value created, but also shows cycle time of that business value released to the customer. The value of this chart should not be overlooked, as it also providesdirect measurementof how well team focus is being applied to incrementally complete stories during a sprint.

Consider tracking the burn-down chart along with the burn-up chart,especially with a new Scrum team. Without it, there is no measure of team focus. The burn-down combined with the burn-up provides asimple, powerful and accurate "Driver and Outcome" scorecard. By focusing on both, the team is provided an Agile Scorecard that shows both capacity utilization and team focus. If time passes with no stories completed, the team should ensure that it is utilizing the dailystand up meetingstosynchronize and focuson as few stories as possible, so that business client priorities can be worked to completion in the correct order. The ideal burn-down and burn-up charts, paired side-by-side resemble a "V" hence the name "Agile-V Scorecard" (see Figure 1).

gb0307-1

Figure 1: Ideal burn-down (effort remaining)and burn-up (stories completed) charts. Together, they form the quot;Agile-Vquot; Scorecard.

In reality, the burn-up chart does not track a straight line,nor should it be expected to.Consider the first sprint in a project, where necessary energy and focus might be spent on getting environments and tools set up prior to closing business value stories. In general, stories are usually completed in chunks, which thenpresent as "steps" in a burn-up chart. If more than one or two days pass without an increase in stories completed, a mature Agile team will quickly focus on impediments to completing stories. This could be due to dependencies, but the properly established Agile team looks to re-focus during the daily Scrum in order ensure that the quot;divide and conquerquot; anti-pattern is not being implemented (see Figure 2).

 

gb0307-2

Figure 2: Agile-V Scorecard that results from the quot;Divide and Conquerquot; anti-pattern. Note that the burn-down appears successful through 75% of the sprint; however the burn-up chart indicates problems much sooner (stalled story completion).

There are great examples of burn-down patterns describing common behaviors that drive the way burn-down charts progress. [6] However, be very wary ofapplying statistical analysis to the burn-up chart in order to "predict" the success of a sprint. This is unnecessary and a waste of time, since sprints are of such short duration. The real information behind the current burn-up chart should be readily available to a seasoned Agile manager who can recognize story velocity by means of visible inspection of story and task status shown on an

About the author

Guy Beaver's picture Guy Beaver

Guy Beaver is the CIO at Perfect Commerce, a software company that provides SaaS procurement solutions for large corporations. At Perfect Commerce, he leads and oversees the development, delivery and support of all Information Technology. Guy's career of over 25 years spans several industries including Aerospace, Financial Services, Healthcare, and Procurement. He co-authored the book, Lean-Agile Software Development: Achieving Enterprise Agility.

AgileConnection is one of the growing communities of the TechWell network.

Featuring fresh, insightful stories, TechWell.com is the place to go for what is happening in software development and delivery.  Join the conversation now!

Upcoming Events

Oct 12
Oct 15
Nov 09
Nov 09