There are many apps and websites for just about anything under the sun. From checking weather forecasts, maps to news updates, technology is embedded in our lives. Software developers go to great lengths to develop world-class software, but the process of creating applications with mass appeal is no walk in the park. It demands a diligent, painstaking process to ensure you deliver a great product. To design applications, software teams make use of agile metrics.
Agile metrics is a method to track teams through the software development lifecycle. With this type of business metric, you can track each process, determine when the project deadline is met and each phase’s timeline.
Agile metrics measure every member’s contribution according to the standards set out. They don’t simply focus on the productivity of the development team but also the software quality. This way, both the outcome and the process are tracked, with valuable insights to boot.
Agile Metrics Dashboard
A dashboard is useful when driving; as the person in charge of the vehicle, you are on top of things. You know whether your fuel tank is at a safe level, the speedometer gauge within speed limits, as well as your oil pressure. If something is wrong, you first look at your dashboard and check which warning lights are flashing. No need to waste valuable time identifying the issue; a dashboard is an essential tool.
An agile metrics dashboard does the same when managing a software development team. With many processes to be followed in software development, mistakes can happen. From testing code to deploying the finished product, the agile metrics dashboard tracks the software lifecycle.
Some of the agile metrics and measurements include:
- Fine-tuning the process: Some processes may be slowing down the team’s work; with agile metrics as a guide, you can tweak them to improve productivity. You may also find that the use of language frameworks may help reduce development time for specific projects. In others, it may not be advisable to use frameworks for quality purposes.
- Harmony: Some developers code during the day while others are night owls. With such disparities in working habits, balance is essential. With agile metrics, it is possible to give some team members the latitude to work during their preferred hours for optimum output.
When working on any software project, safe agile metrics are crucial for the following reasons.
During a sprint burndown, software development teams target what needs to be done after a certain period. Scrum teams are put into play; the aim is to work fast within a short period. Regular updates are necessary to track work done and what’s remaining. A sprint burndown chart is a visual representation of the work being done. You can quickly see the tasks and the time remaining.
Here are some things to consider during a sprint burndown:
- When your team is taking too long to meet a target within a specified time, they may be overworked. Excessive workload may indicate the team is taking on too much work and overstretching capacity.
- On the other hand, if they meet their targets too fast, they may not be doing enough. It could be that they have taken on little work and appear to be working more quickly than usual.
When looking at the report, you need to take note of these insights and act accordingly.
(Image source: Wikipedia)
Version Burndown Charts
These are charts that track work done beyond the sprints. During a sprint by scrum teams, the job done comprises epics and versions. With a version burndown chart, you get to keep track of everything. A burndown chart enables you to see the different sprints in relation to the entire body of work. It is an agile KPI that’s important to track.
Velocity is the average work done during a sprint. It is usually measured through story points or hours and is an important metric when forecasting.
For product managers, velocity enables the estimation of the work that can be done. When faced with a mountain of work, you have a rough idea of how long your team will take to get it done.
The report is more accurate when it is derived from numerous sprints.
Some of the insights you can glean from this report include:
- If the velocity is not constant over several reports, there is something wrong. The team may not be having a standard output due to external or internal pressure. It may also be due to not following guidelines put in place, resulting in irregular velocity.
- Each team has different projects and objectives; thus, different velocity is expected. Don’t bother comparing velocity across different groups because you may end up with an apples-to-oranges scenario.
Testing Metrics in Agile
Some of the challenges you may face when testing metrics in agile are:
- Noticing bugs too late: When you have a software team working on agile methods, finding bugs late in the process is a big problem. It erodes a lot of the work done over a short period and forces you to slow down the software development process to fix the defects. Bugs are better found sooner rather than later. Finding them late during the development process comes with many inconveniences running the gamut from a shift in focus to writing new code, going through old code, and rerunning tests. Under an agile methodology, the focus should be on how to avoid such instances. It requires testing the software earlier in the development process and fixing any bugs discovered.
- Monitoring performance: Another challenge in an agile framework is software performance monitoring. As more features are added, the system may lag, leading to reduced performance. The challenge is to monitor the software to provide an accurate picture of its performance. Doing this early guides the agile team to balance feature addition with system performance.
- Having broken code: In an agile framework, the goal is to move fast, but speed may compromise accuracy and result in broken code. In the software development environment, there are numerous moving parts with various microservices in play. Regression testing needs to be done on all aspects to ensure everything is chugging along smoothly. It is common for code to break after small changes. Failure to check whether the code is working as before may prove costly later. Every code fragment of the software needs to work seamlessly. Broken code delays software deployment.
Below are a few ways to use testing metrics in agile to come up with a better product:
- When writing code, developers should focus on test-driven development. It makes the testing routine easier as developers consider it in their work. Test-driven development forces software developers to raise their standards, knowing that failure to do so will result in them going back to the drawing board. It also improves the testing process and makes tests reliable.
- Setting standards before the project begins is a useful thing. It ensures quality is maintained throughout the project. Instead of implementing agile quality metrics later as an afterthought, it becomes the guiding light. It improves the software development process and results in a win-win for everyone involved. There is no longer a need to go back and fix sub-standard work for developers, and project managers don’t have to nag developers for code fixes.
- Manual testing is usually an issue when doing regression testing. Having an automated testing system in place enables you to fix problems associated with manual regression testing. There may be some blind spots you may have missed when testing manually. An automated system resolves that and many other issues. It is an easy to use tool that saves you valuable time.
Finally, the automated testing system must be adapted to capture any changes in the testing scope to ensure the tests are up to date and in line with any new requirements.