Velocity: How is it useful?

So, apparently people are doing Scrum and not tracking their Velocity.  Why?

One key reason: they do not see how useful it is.

Here are some explanations.

Helps the SM focus

The Velocity is the key metric for the ScrumMaster (SM).

The SM should increase the Velocity 100% in the first 6 months.  Which means things have to change.

And the right things have to change.  So, it brings focus to the SM’s work.


The PO and the business side and the customers need to know:  When will it be delivered.

Velocity with decent estimating and the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) concept provide the answer.  Example: If we have another 120SPs in this MVP (this release), and the Velocity is 20SP, then we can deliver in 6 Sprints.  (That is a simple example, not fully explained.)

It is VERY useful to know this.  Many decisions depend on it.

Team Pride

The Team should be proud of how much higher the Velocity is now (compared to some prior Sprint).

The Team helped identify the right impediments.  The Team, in a number of ways, helped the SM figure out how to fix things.

The Team used the improvements and actually achieved the higher velocity.

The Team can now be proud of how much more the Customers are getting (and definitely the Team should care about that).

Helps the PO (and the Team) Win

Winning in the marketplace depends, in part, on a strategy.  There are potentially many ways to win: work faster, learn faster, release before the competition, etc, etc.

The more the PO understands about the Velocity, the more the PO (and the Team) can choose a better strategy to win this time against tough competition.

Velocity is by no means the only thing to know.  But it is one key thing to know.

The two main levers that the PO has to increase BV delivered are: (1) help increase the Team’s velocity, and (2) increase the value of the stories, specifically the BVPs (business value points) per SP.  A bit more generally, increase the average ROI per SP delivered.

We do not wish to over-simplify the PO job.  Learning and innovation and TTM (Time To MArket) are also very important.  But Velocity is definitely very helpful for the PO….and thus for Team success, and thus for the Team.

Helps Managers

The Velocity concept helps managers.

We do NOT recommend giving a Team a “stretch goal” or asking them to do 25SPs in a Sprint when their prior Velocity was only 22SPs.

But we do recommend that the SM focus on fixing impediments (of whatever type) so that the Velocity goes up.  And the Team also must help with this.

Managers can understand having a full-time SM in a Team if that SM is going to measurably increase the Velocity (I’ll say 100% in the first 6 months).  Or continue to keep the Velocity at the hyper-productive level.  You can use numbers to show this to almost any manager and they will agree.  This is very useful.

Much harder to explain the value of a SM to a manager without Velocity.

Managers also want to know, generally, is the Team doing well.  Velocity provides a notable part of that answer.

Managers want to help set realistic expectations (below and above).  Velocity is a key part of that.

Managers want to help the Team be more productive, eg, by helping the SM remove or mitigate impediments.  The Velocity number give quick feedback: is the manager’s help really helping?

Managers want a reasonable ROI on investing in fixing impediments.  Velocity helps with that a lot, both prospectively (in getting approval) and retrospectively (seeing that what we expected actually happened).


Velocity: Don’t leave home without it.

Note: See our prior post that discusses key preliminaries.

In what other ways would you explain HOW useful the Velocity is?


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