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.