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What Is Velocity And Its Importance In Scrum Methodology?

By Expert Author: Mrugesh panchal

What is velocity in scrum?
In scrum methodology, velocity is a key metric used for predicting how much work the Agile development team has successfully completed while the sprint is underway. In scrum, the sprint iterations usually last for two-week duration. The rate at which the team members have been completing their work i.e. developing the user stories is calculated at the end of the sprint. This is done by totaling the story points of the product backlog items included in the sprint backlog during the sprint planning meeting by the product owner. If the tasks are not completely developed by the team, they should not be considered in the calculation since the velocity calculation only includes successfully developed user stories, which have been accepted as “done” by the product owner and by the stakeholders during the sprint retrospective meeting. The rate at which the team is working i.e. the velocity can also be calculated while a particular sprint is underway. Velocity is represented in the form of burn down charts, which are very essential for carrying out the estimation when the product owner selects user stories from the product backlog during the first half of the sprint planning meeting. It is important to explain velocity to the scrum team members.

Importance of velocity in scrum
There are several mechanisms in scrum which help to avail a feedback about the activities carried out during scrum implementation. Velocity too is a feedback gathering mechanism to measure the rate of work done, and discovering the pitfalls which affect the productivity of the development team. Typically, when a team is new to scrum, velocity can fluctuate up or down depending upon how the stories are developed. A more experienced team will deliver sustained velocity through their development efforts. If the self-correction activity is properly carried out, the team can exhibit an approximate growth of up to 10% with each sprint processed.

Velocity is an important aspect in scrum because:
• It helps to measure whether process changes are really improving the productivity levels or in fact hurting it.
• It helps in deciding how many user stories ought to be taken up in the sprint backlog before the new sprint commences.
• The pitfalls affecting the delivery of shippable user stories can be identified since the causes responsible for incomplete user stories, or those not accepted as “done”, are thought about and identified during the sprint retrospective meeting.
• The product owner can identify the reasons hampering the daily sprints through discussions with the team members during the sprint reviews.
• The stakeholders can avail an approximation about the probable release date.

In many ways, velocity is a negative metric – it can indicate whether something is wrong or not, but it is not so useful in identifying whether something is good or better. For example, the blood pressure of a person can be roughly compared to velocity in scrum. A high blood pressure can be a clear signal about something wrong with the metabolism, but it does not indicate exactly what is wrong. In the same way, when the velocity starts dipping down in the burn down chart, it indicates something is wrong with scrum, and focused discussions are required to identify the root cause of the malfunction. Velocity is used to raise questions regarding how the team is performing and how scrum is being implemented in the project. It has several indirect implications since the metrics help to identify key issues, which are taken up for discussions in the scrum meetings.

How is the velocity used by different scrum entities?
• The product owner uses velocity to determine the rate at which the team is developing the user stories. Velocity is used by the product owner to adjudge how many, and what types of product backlog items should be included in the sprint backlog during the sprint planning meeting so that the team can successfully complete the sprint.

• The scrum master uses velocity to check the deliverables while the sprint is underway. If the velocity starts decreasing, the scrum master encourages the team members to put in more efforts and exhaust the sprint backlog items during the daily sprints. Velocity is used to monitor the daily sprints.

• The scrum team uses velocity to track how much work the individual members carry out and how much productivity is delivered at the end of the sprint day.

• The stakeholders use the velocity to arrive at an estimation about the probable product release date depending upon the rate at which the team is performing.

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