Agile metrics are  a crucial part of an agile software development process. They help  software teams monitor productivity across workflow stages, access  software quality, as well as introduce more clarity to the development  process. Metrics in agile software development can also help scrum and  kanban masters keep track of their teams’ well-being.

For our list, we have chose the  metrics that can be useful for the majority of agile teams. There four  different metrics groups in our selection — software quality, team  productivity, general project metrics, and team performance/well-being  agile metrics.

See the list below.

Agile Quality Metrics

This group of agile development  metrics will help you access the overall quality of the software product  your team is building, as well as predict whether users will be  satisfied with its quality.

Escaped Defects

This metric will help you identify  the number of bugs after a build or release enters production. Using the  escaped defects metric helps teams access the level of software  qualify, although in a rather raw form. This is one of the agile quality  metrics you should consider using: bugs on production always pose  problems.

Failed Deployments

The following metric will help you  access the overall number of deployments to testing and production  environments. Failed deployments can shed light on how reliable those  environments are and whether a team is building working software at all.  Concurrently, you can use the the failed deployments metrics to  understand whether a given sprint or release is ready to go to  production. As far as quality metrics in agile software development go,  failed deployments is incredibly useful.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

NPS measures the reaction of users to  a given release. The metric can help teams predict whether the users  would recommend the software product or not. NPS is measured right  before the release. Although one of agile software quality metrics in  our list, Net Promoter Score can also be approached as a customer  satisfaction metric.

Agile Productivity Metrics

The following selection of agile  development metrics helps to assess your team’s productivity in  completing stories, tasks, and bigger bodies of work. The many useful  agile productivity metrics will also help you predict the productivity  of your team in forthcoming sprints, prevent bottlenecks, and tackle  unexpected changes to the scope.

Lead Time

This metric will let you monitor a  story from the point when it enters the backlog until the sprint’s end  or release stage. The lower the lead time, the more effective your  development process is. Lead time is one of those agile metrics that  allows for gaining an overarching perspective on the productivity of  your development efforts.

Cycle Time (Control Chart)

Part of the lead time metric, cycle  time will help you assess the average speed with which your team  fulfills a task. If your team has short cycle times, it means they are  highly effective. Concurrently, when your team’s cycle team is  consistent, you can better predict how they will work in the future.  This metric will also help you to quickly pinpoint the emerging  bottlenecks in your agile software development process.

Sprint Burndown

Before starting a sprint, teams  forecasts how much work they can finish in the course of it. The sprint  burndown report (visualised as a chart) tracks the completion of story  points in a given sprint. This helps the team to ensure they will  complete the sprint scope within the planned time frame.

Sprint burndown chart example, Scrum Institute

Sprint burndown chart example, Scrum Institute
Sprint burndown chart example, Scrum Institute

Sprint burndown is one of the most  effective agile productivity metrics for a few more reasons. First, it  allows you to track the progress of a sprint closely and in real time.  Second, the metric shows how agile your team really is.

Epic & Release Burndown

These metrics (also visualised as  charts) allow teams to track bigger bodies of work than sprint burndown  can cover. One of the major benefits of epic and release burndown is  that they help to manage “scope creep” — the adding of new requirements  after the project was already defined.

Thus, these agile metrics will help  ensure your team will not lose in productivity, for example, after the  product owner on your project tasks your team to add a new, massive  feature.

Velocity

Velocity is one of the most essential  metrics in agile software development, allowing you to measure the  average quantity of completed story points over several past sprints.  Consequently, you can use the metric to foresee how effective your team  will be in forthcoming sprints, making it a rather powerful planning  means.

Velocity chart example, Atlassian

Velocity chart example, Atlassian
Velocity chart example, Atlassian

The benefits of velocity also include:

  • Easy to measure
  • Shows a clear result right away
  • Lowering velocity may signal about emergings inefficiencies in a sprint

As many factors can influence productivity, it is crucial to follow how your team’s velocity changes over time.

Agile Project Metrics

A handy addition to the  aforementioned metrics, agile software project metrics will provide  actionable information on your development processes, helping to avoid  issues big and small.

Cumulative Flow

Cumulative flow is arguably one of  the most powerful agile project metrics for kanban. It  enables you to  get a bird’s-eye view on the status of your tasks in a sprint, release,  and across software teams. In a single diagram, you will be able to view  the status of your tasks for all workflow stages. You would also  immediately identify bottlenecks at any stage.

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Cumulative Flow Diagram example, kanban tool

Cumulative Flow Diagram example, kanban tool
Cumulative Flow Diagram example, kanban tool

Code Coverage

This metric calculates the percentage  of code that is covered by unit tests, presenting it in a raw  visualisation. You can measure code coverage by the quantity of methods,  conditions, statements, and branches that comprise your unit testing  suite. You can also run code coverage automatically as part of every  build.

While code coverage is one of the  effective agile metrics, it does not cover other types of testing.  Therefore, high code coverage numbers do not signify high quality.  Still, the metric will give you a solid perspective on your progress.

Health Metrics for Agile Teams/Agile Performance Metrics

While most agile software development  metrics are aimed at assessing software quality and team productivity  at different stages and from different perspectives, monitoring the  well-being of your team is as crucial.

Happiness

There is no single, tried-and-true  way to measure happiness in a software development team. Still, a common  solution is to ask every team member to rate current happiness on a  scale from 1 to 5. According to organizational psychologist Christiaan  Verwijs, this can be followed by several questions, for example:

  • How happy are you with your company?
  • What feels best right now? (open question)
  • What feels worst right now? (open question)
  • What would increase your happiness? (open question)

Team Morale

Verwijs proposes another way to  access the well-being of members of agile software development teams —  measure team morale instead of happiness. He argues that the happiness  metric is unreliable due to its subjectivity, and that measuring it  entails many nuances that does not help to solve the problem neither for  the individual, nor their team. Instead, Verwijs says that measuring  team morale is a more subtle, team and task oriented way biased or  susceptible to changes in mood.

The psychologist suggests to measure  team morale by asking team members to rate the following statements on  the scale from 1 to 5 (or from 1 to 7, as it more nuanced):

  • I feel fit and strong in my team
  • I am proud of the work that I do for my team
  • I am enthusiastic about the work that I do for my team
  • I find the work that I do for my team of meaning and purpose

The questions are more specific, allowing you to better access the well-being of your team members.

Still, approaching and accessing such  aspects is a nuanced subject, and it is up to the scrum or kanban  master to choose the most fitting of these agile performance metrics, or  approach the team members’ well-being in their own individual way  altogether.

Should you use these metrics for  agile teams at all is another question you might ask, especially if you  can have face-to-face discussions whenever you need to talk through your  team members’ issues. If you have doubts about agile team performance  metrics, you can start small by measuring happiness monthly, and see how  everything goes.

What are the Key Agile Software Development Metrics?

Our selection includes agile software  development metrics that will aid in delivering quality software on  time while ensuring the well-being of your team members. Still, using  each and every one of the metrics on the list is not a precondition for  creating shippable software products. In the end, the choice depends on a  team’s scrum or kanban master, the team, and the agile culture in the  organization or the team.