Agile KPIs

Transparency is one of the core values of Agile. The right KPIs can help you create such openness. This does not mean creating huge dashboards or scaring your team members with KPI demands. We are referring to Agile KPIs: creating insight into your value delivery. The goal is to learn and improve in order to add more value for your customer in the next iteration. KPIs are not whip for managers to use, rather they are a tool for learning for teams.

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Want to know more about Agile KPIs?

The most important Agile KPIs

The most important goal of an Agile organization and Agile teams is to delver value in short cycles. If you chose to measure things make sure these contribute to attaining this goal.


How to set Agile KPIs?

  1. Determine the clue of all the items on your backlog in joint sessions with your customers and stakeholders (repeat this often in large projects)
  2. Measure the value your team has delivered at the end of every sprint.
  3. Visualize the value delivered using for instance burn-up charts.

Questions about Agile metrics usually fall into one of two categories. First of all, how can I measure how Agile my team or organization is? Secondly, how can I measure the performance of my organization in a more Agile way? In the first case your metrics will be mostly qualitative. In case you want to address team performance in a more agile way you quantitative indicators are more useful.


Common Agile KPI Pitfalls


A common error is to view team velocity (in points) as a metric for team performance. Often, the result is that managers push teams to pick up ever more points (and thus tasks).  The result is. usually point inflation rather than raised performance. Teams simply start to assign more points to the same tasks. Even worse is a situation in which a teams starts to rush things, or compromise on quality in order to raise velocity. The true goal, delivering more value for the customer, is not achieved. Measuring velocity can be a good starting point for a conversation, but it should never be a performance metric.

Real world approach rather than systems approach

People always speak of noticeable and measurable change. Seen from a systemic approach, focused on rules and figures, you would always like to have measurable results. From a real world approach, the world of people and interactions, you would like to see noticeable results. Systems should always support the desired real world change. Figures need to help teams gain better insights, learn, and improve their results. You don’t want teams to behave differently based on wrong figures. At Organize Agile we put noticeable results before measurable results.


Top down versus bottom up

Many organizations are used to setting key performance indicators in a top down way. This makes them work as a whip, rather than helping the team to improve their learning capacity. How can you prevent the whip effect, and convert it into a learning effect? Let teams set their own KPIs. The team needs to learn and improve and usually has good ideas on how to do this.


Getting started with Agile KPIs

Would you like to get started with Agile KPIs or convert your existing KPIs from a system approach to a real world approach? The questions below can help you get started on your journey.

  • Do I want to measure Agile maturity or team results and performance?
  • Are KPIs used as a whip by managers or as a learning tool for the team?
  • What are you hoping to achieve by setting KPIs?
  • Who sets the KPIs and is responsible for adapting them?

Organize Agile is happy to assist you is designing the right Agile KPIs for your organization. Together we can raise the learning capacity of your teams.