Bob Lieberman's Blog

Commentary and Tools For Empowering Change

Keeping Agile Metrics Simple

Software development leaders who are process-oriented (like project managers and scrum masters) sometimes obscure simple concepts in the interest of packaging. Roboscrum is a good case in point.

If you’re not familiar with Roboscrum, it’s a set of metrics and charts for agile teams. It's based on a simple classification of the scope items “touched” by a team in a sprint. The classification is pure genius, as is Roboscrum’s recognition of two key success factors for product development: focus, and estimation accuracy. But I and many of my colleagues find the presentation somewhat obtuse.

After using Roboscrum for over a year, I’ve stumbled across a simple presentation that seems to be much more readily understood by the average stakeholder. Here it is:

Most people I’ve shown this to don’t need any explanation at all. And the Excel spreadsheet that produces the chart is quite simple. (I would be happy to share it with you.)

In case you’re interested, here is a little more on the Roboscrum terminology as I understand it…

The Classification System
All the user stories in a sprint are sorted into three mutually exclusive buckets, with each bucket’s “size” equaling the total of its stories’ points:

  • Committed work – what the scrum team originally planned to deliver in a given sprint
  • Found work – any additional work found to be necessary to meet that commitment
  • Adopted work – any discretionary work brought into the sprint by the team

Then there is the customary fourth bucket that measures the actual payoff, again in story points:

  • Velocity – what was delivered to the stakeholder at sprint end (no partial credit!) 

The Key Success Factors
The above buckets are used to assess two key success factors:

  • Focus – inferred from the percentage of Committed + Found + Adopted work that was actually delivered
  • Estimation Accuracy – inferred from how little or how much work was Found. 

Roboscrum is quite a neat little system. I rely on it daily, and I think it gives an extremely valuable perspective on team performance. I hope my little contribution will expand its acceptance in the agile community.


Michael Swansegar said...

Interesting article. When I went to roboscrum I downloaded the excel example. I noticed something quick in the example. On the 'found'. there was a 4 point addition. So this is interesting if the team is using a form of Fibonacci sizing. In effect, this could break that sizing effort. It is almost to the point of trying to be precisely wrong instead of generally accurate. Sizing is to drive business planning discussions around risk/effort/complexity...etc...not to be perfect in exact estimations. I would rather focus on the behavioral aspects of the team then dive too deep into exact point arguments. Interest concept but in large organizations, it is ill advised to start taking management down a path of how to exactly measure everyone. Then you are back to "resources" and managed services will love that. Thanks for sharing. It gave me something to remember.

Bob Lieberman said...

Thanks for your comment Michael. I completely agree about the pitfalls of measurement in large organizations. It's a challenge because they're so big they really can't function without measuring, but it can be hard to know what to measure, an measurement always has unintended consequences.

Unknown said...

Hi Bob,
Could you please share Spreadsheet.


Bob Lieberman said...

Yes, by all means, Sanjay. I received your email and will email it to you.

Unknown said...

Hi Bob,

Can I have a copy as well? Also do you have the roboscrum spreadsheet? If so can you include it as well?

Thank you.

Bob Lieberman said...

I've sent it to you in email, Warren. Enjoy!

Anabel said...

Hi Bob,
I'd love a copy and would greatly appreciate if you could email it to me as well....As for the Roboscum spreadsheet, I've been trying to get that for a while so if you have that and would not mind sharing I'd be grateful for that as well!!
Thanks so much in advance!

Bob Lieberman said...

Happy to oblige, Anabel. Please use my contact form on the website to send me your email address.

Unknown said...

Hi Bob,
Great article. I'd love a copy of the sheet too please.

Kind Regards,
Adam Murray

Bob Lieberman said...

HI Adam. Just fill out the form on the contact tab and I'll send it to you.

BiteMeAsh said...

Hi Bob,
I would also love a copy of the spreadsheet.
Have sent a mail request.
Thanking you in advance

Unknown said...

Hi bob, we are doing researches for a school project about scrum and how to analyse this. It would be great if i could get a copy of the spreadsheet and when its possible also the roboscrum spreadsheet

Kind regards,


Unknown said...

Hi bob,
For a schoolproject are we analyzing scrum agile, i would love to get a copy of the spreads

Kind regards


Bob Lieberman said...

Roy, please use my contact tab on my website to send me your contact information and I will forward the spreadsheet that way. Thanks, Bob.