I keep the number of things to measure very light; I start with these three.
Why Agile Maturity Matters
Agile maturity is a crucial factor in the success of any Agile team. It refers to the level of proficiency and effectiveness with which a team is able to apply Agile principles and practices. The more mature a team is, the better they are at delivering value to customers, adapting to changes, and continuously improving their processes.
Measuring Agile maturity helps teams identify areas of improvement and set goals for growth. By understanding their current level of maturity, teams can prioritize their efforts and focus on the most impactful changes.
Agile maturity metrics provide a way to track progress over time and assess the effectiveness of interventions. This allows teams to make data-driven decisions and adjust their strategies accordingly.
I usually focus on the metrics shown below; I'll explain each and my reasons these over other measures.
1. Cycle Time
Cycle time measures the time it takes for a team to complete a work item, from the moment it is started to the moment it is delivered. A shorter cycle time indicates that work is flowing smoothly and that the team is able to deliver value quickly.
To measure cycle time, teams can track the time it takes for each work item to move through their workflow stages. By analyzing this data, teams can identify bottlenecks and areas for improvement, such as reducing wait times or optimizing handoffs between team members. By continuously monitoring and improving cycle time, teams can increase their agility and deliver value more rapidly.
2. Employee Engagement (happiness)
Engaged team members are more motivated, productive, and committed to their work, which directly impacts the team's ability to deliver value. High employee engagement is a sign of a mature Agile team that fosters a positive and collaborative work environment.
Measuring employee engagement can be done through surveys, interviews, or other feedback mechanisms. These tools can help teams assess the level of satisfaction, motivation, and alignment within the team. By addressing any issues or concerns raised by team members, teams can improve employee engagement and create a culture of continuous improvement and learning.
3. Release Frequency
If I had to choose one measure, it would be this one. It refers to how often a team is able to release new features or updates to their product. A higher release frequency indicates that the team is able to quickly respond to customer needs and deliver value more frequently. If you measure this, you get the answers to the following questions:
- is what we're delivering valuable?
- how do we derisk our deployment practices?
- how do we improve delivery predictability?
- how can we learn faster to improve our product/service?
- what (policies, process and practices) in our organisation have to change to allow for higher agility?
- who are the people resistant to change and what are their concerns?
- how can we reduce the risk of delivering the wrong things?
By continuously improving their release frequency, teams can stay ahead of the competition, better meet customer expectations by learning what works and what doesn't more often.
I have seen entire transformation programs use this metric to completely redesign their organisation. By advertising a top-down message that every agile team is expected to ship work every two weeks (at least) everyone knew it was ok to "break" old ways, change policies and processes.