March 5, 2024

Top 3 Sprint Metrics to Measure Developer Productivity

Table of Contents

As a developer or development manager, you know how important it is to measure productivity. With your software development team racing against the clock to deliver a new feature in a sprint you're probably keen on boosting productivity and ensuring your team hits every milestone efficiently as planned as part of the sprint. However, it's not uncommon for sprints to fail, and the process can be broken in various ways. 

How are sprint results broken?

When sprint results are broken, it can have a significant impact on the quality of the product being developed. One of the most significant challenges faced by developers working in agile environments is burnout. Developer burnout can occur when team members feel overwhelmed by the amount of work assigned to them during a sprint.

This can happen due to various reasons such as: 

  1. Over-allocation: When team members are assigned too many tasks or stories, they may struggle to complete them within the sprint duration, leading to stress and burnout. 
  2. Lack of clarity: When tasks or stories are not well-defined, developers may spend excessive time trying to understand requirements, leading to frustration and decreased productivity. 
  3. Technical debt: When there is a lack of attention paid to technical debt, developers may have to deal with a cumbersome codebase, making it harder to deliver quality output. 
  4. Poor sprint planning: When sprint planning is not done effectively, developers may end up with an unmanageable workload, leading to burnout. 

The metrics confusion

To avoid burnout, it's essential to plan sprints carefully, taking into account the team's capacity, skill sets, and potential roadblocks. Effective sprint planning involves setting achievable goals, prioritizing tasks based on their importance and urgency, estimating tasks accurately, allocating resources efficiently, and monitoring progress. To accomplish all of this, you need to have a clear understanding of your team's capabilities, strengths, and limitations.

By considering these factors and using relevant metrics, you can create a well-planned sprint that sets your team up for success and helps prevent burnout.

But with so many different metrics to choose from, it can be tough to know where to start. That's why we've put together this list of the top 3 sprint metrics to measure the sprint success. These metrics are easy to understand, and straightforward and will give you valuable insights into how your team is performing.

1. Developer Churn

Developer churn in a sprint refers to the degree of change experienced in the set of tasks or work items allocated to a development team during a sprint cycle. More specifically, churn represents the total number of task additions, deletions, or modifications made after the initial commitment phase of the sprint. A higher level of churn indicates increased instability and fluctuation within the sprint scope, which often leads to several negative consequences impacting both productivity and morale.

For example, let's say your team is working on a new feature that requires several stages of development, including design, coding, testing, and review. If the tasks associated with this feature are consistently modified than expected, it may indicate that there are issues with communication between teams or that certain stages of the process lack clarity. By tracking Developer Churn, you can pinpoint these issues and make changes to improve efficiency.

2. Planned vs Delivered

Another essential metric to track developer productivity is comparing what the team planned to deliver versus what they actually completed within a given sprint. This comparison offers an overview of the team's ability to commit and adhere to realistic goals while also revealing potential bottlenecks or process improvements needed.

Let's say your development team plans to complete 60 story points worth of work during a two-week sprint. At the end of the sprint, the team managed to complete only 50 story points. In this scenario, the "planned" value was 60 story points, but the "delivered" value was only 50 story points. This result indicates that there might be some challenges with estimating task complexity or managing time constraints. 

The difference between the planned and delivered values could trigger discussions about improving estimation techniques, setting more realistic targets, or identifying any obstacles hindering the team from meeting its goals. Over multiple sprints, tracking these metrics will provide insights into whether the gap between planned and delivered values decreases over time, indicating improvement in productivity and efficiency.

3. Velocity

Velocity is a measure of how much work your team completes during a given period, usually a sprint or iteration. It's calculated by summing up the story points completed during a sprint and dividing that number by the number of sprint days. Velocity helps you understand how much work your team can handle in a given period and allows you to plan future sprints accordingly. 

For example, if your team has a velocity of 50 story points per sprint, you know that you can expect them to complete around 50 story points worth of work in a two-week sprint. This information can help you prioritize tasks and allocate resources effectively, ensuring that your team stays on track and delivers quality results.

How do we measure these metrics accurately?

Measuring these metrics accurately is crucial to gain meaningful insights into your team's performance and identify areas for improvement.

Here are some ways to measure these metrics accurately using Harness SEI:

  • To measure Developer Churn accurately, track the volatility of the sprint backlog by measuring the scope change during a sprint. Harness SEI provides you with the Churn Rate metric that links your Git data and Jira data together.

    By calculating the churn rate, you can determine how much work was changed or modified throughout the sprint's duration.

    The Churn Rate is calculated using the following formula:

    Churn Rate = (Points added mid-sprint + Points removed mid-sprint + Positive difference of changes in planned issues) / Points committed at the start of the sprint

    To learn more, go to Churn Rate in Sprint Metrics

  • Sprint success can be defined by understanding the difference between what was committed and what was actually completed. Harness SEI offers dedicated metrics such as the Commit Done Ratio, which tells you how many story points were delivered over how many story points were there when sprints started.

  • Harness SEI helps you measure velocity accurately by providing a Sprint Metrics Trend Report, which visualises a time series trend of sprint metrics, such as Commit Done Points, Creep Points, or Commit Points.

    You can also use the Sprint Metrics Percentage Trend Report to examine changes in the commit-done ratio, done-to-commit ratio, and creep-to-commit ratio.

  • In addition to these reports, Harness SEI offers a Sprint Metrics Single Stat widget that presents a single sprint metric averaged over the selected time interval. This widget helps you use historical metrics for sprint prediction and performance assessment.

    You can use multiple Sprint Single Stat reports with different metrics combinations to measure various important factors impacting the sprint

By using these reports on Harness SEI, you can measure sprint metrics accurately and gain insights into your team's performance.

To learn more, schedule a demo with our experts.

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