Velocity is the speed at which a development team operates during a sprint or number of sprints, (where a sprint is a week or two). It is calculated by determining how many ‘story points’ are delivered as an average over sprints. Story points are calculated based on complexity of the task at hand, at byte9 we use a collaborative estimation technique known as ‘planning poker’, where the aim is to be consistent in estimation (that is not to say accurate!).
Velocity is known as ‘the great equaliser’ as it allows a team that has consistently estimated ‘story points’ to establish how long each point is taking over time, based on how many are delivered – giving an accurate, real time measure of team productivity. The more points delivered, measured in sprints, the easier it is to project forward and see when features will be delivered, or what impact any change will make if estimated tasks are added, removed or reprioritised in future sprints.
An accurate gauge of velocity and consistent estimates measured in points are the building blocks of a very transparent, lightweight project visualisation and management tool. Less time managing Microsoft Project, and more time delivering quality software.
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