Years ago, I talked to a COO about helping his organization adopt agile, and he asked about metrics. How would he know how teams and products are performing? Part of the desire for agile was to address their current lack of visibility into the teams’ work and to establish KPIs across IT in particular.
What metrics could the COO expect to see? Great question. Agilists often talk about using empirical process control—namely transparency, inspection, and adaptation. Yet we’ve seen issues arise when metrics that are useful at a team level are exposed to managers and stakeholders outside the team. Unfair comparisons of teams and assumptions about how to intervene can pop up. Education about the metrics and how to use them can help. Recognizing what kinds of decisions and support may be needed from those outside the team may encourage tracking and discussing additional metrics.
Ken Howard and I created a presentation about metrics a team might find useful and metrics executives might be interested in; it’s called Agile by the Numbers: How to Develop Useful KPIs and was a popular session at AgileShift in Houston. Slides are available online here. If you’re interested in us presenting for your group, please contact me.