At NEC, I implemented the TRAM on the mobility project to aid in determining how much functionality to attempt during each sprint. Fourteen weeks into the project, our customer asked us to make a final delivery of the project within three weeks. Management hoped that we could do that for them. However, we had only cleared 280 verification points of product during those fourteen weeks, giving us a velocity of twenty verification points per week. As there were 120 verification points of product still in the backlog, we told them that our best estimate for completion would be six weeks. It is worth noting that the TRAM analysis estimate was 100 percent accurate. We made the final delivery of the project in exactly six weeks. One thing that I was asked by management at NEC was, “What if we made more overtime mandatory to attempt to get the project out in three weeks?” We already had mandatory overtime on Saturdays for the prior three weeks, and the effects were not helpful. During the first week, the team worked an additional day and produced an additional day’s worth of product. In the second week, however, production started to fall. The team only produced 90 percent of what it had accomplished during a normal workweek. The third week, production slipped to 80 percent. Obviously the team was burning out. Rather than slip further to 60 percent, which is where the team was heading, I recommended cessation of mandatory overtime, which was then implemented. Velocity then returned to pre-overtime levels. This saved the company two weeks of development time and associated costs. For a team of sixty, this was a significant monetary savings for NEC, proving the power of verification points.
Verification points from the TRAM are a very good way to save your company time and money while producing very accurate estimates that will be useful to business people.