It’s not uncommon today for Scrum Masters to think about effective ways to optimize Scrum velocity. If you have been wrestling with this question for some time, read on for some insight.
At a certain point, some Scrum Masters are likely to arrive at the conclusion that their team has come to a standstill and nothing can make employees work smarter. It seems like everything should work smoothly because a great deal of work has been done: a company adopted the new Scrum methodology, entered a new market and started making a profit. However, the overall employee performance has drastically decreased. In other words, the team’s velocity has reached a plateau and is doomed to drop. On the surface, it appears that the company is doing ok. But, sluggish velocity is the first warning sign for a Scrum Master to know that something has gone wrong and that it’s time to take proactive measures.
Viewed from Agile, the Scrum velocity is a measure of a team’s productivity towards delivering features over time. Velocity is calculated by Story Points in a Fibonacci Scale. Agile Story Points determine how much a team can deliver during a Sprint and how much effort it requires.
The formula is: Velocity = Number of Agile Story Points Delivered/Number of Sprints.
5 Ways to Optimize Scrum Velocity
Having measured their team’s Scrum velocity and realized that it is poor, Scrum Masters usually begin to force team members to work harder, which is a mistake. Instead of working more, we suggest working more efficiently. This is what we call working smarter and not harder. Here are some tips and tricks on how to improve your team’s productivity without going insane.
To avoid miscommunication and to work smoothly, it’s better to keep a Scrum team small, between 3 to 9 people. With more people, it becomes difficult to keep track of all their activities. Daily Scrum meetings will impose more responsibility on team members for the delivery. Besides, dividing tasks into small subtasks and updating the Burndown Charts on a daily basis will optimize the working process and make it more visible, helping you to avoid multitasking and the art of not working at work.
2. Prevent Reworking
What really impedes a Scrum team’s progress is incomplete customer requirements or their frequent changes. A Scrum Master needs to make sure that stakeholders and the development team share the same vision of what needs to be built in the near future. Miscommunication and inaccuracy should be resolved in the early stages of a Scrum project. Bear in mind, it takes time to produce high-quality code and only a few minutes to destroy it. Having to majorly rework code is damaging not only to deadlines but also to overall employee satisfaction and morale.
3. Make Value From Sprint Retrospectives
It’s a known fact that many Scrum teams appear to overlook such important Agile rituals as the Retrospective Meeting. This is where you can discuss Story Points, define key impediments, and analyze Burndown and Velocity Charts. This is a must-attend event for everyone to see whether a team is performing well and that the project is coming along as expected. There are a bunch of retrospective games to make these meetings more interesting.
4. Keep Employee Morale High
Demotivated, exhausted employees bring little value to a company. To be a truly tight-knit team, all members should share the same values and goals and cultivate a strong ecosystem around the product or service they deliver. It is crucial to care not only about company success and profit but also about the team’s morale and satisfaction. Team building events and Scrum games such as lean coffee, marshmallow meeting, starfish exercise or kudos cards are very much welcome in any Scrum project.
5. Implement Better Solutions
Routine manual work is indeed the biggest drain on the team’s velocity. Going by the numbers, saving 5 minutes per day for every employee in a 25 person organization will save a lot of man-hours. Automating those manual tasks with some powerful tools would really streamline daily workflows and increase overall employee efficiency. Let us take a look at 6 productivity boosters for a Scrum team:
Zapier is a great time-saving tool that allows you to connect all your favorite apps such as Gmail, Slack, Jira, Dropbox and many others in order to automate repetitive tasks and prevent you from switching across multiple platforms. While a system is running in the background, doing some routine tasks, you have time to focus on more important work.
StayFocused is a free productivity tool for those having trouble managing the amount of time they stay online. StayFocusd increases your efficiency by limiting the amount of time per day that you can spend browsing time-wasting websites. This extension, for users of Google’s Chrome browser, allows you to set a period of time to indulge in mindless surfing.
Time out is a simple-to-use application that runs in the background while you work. It was proven that employees productivity increases when they take regular breaks. To keep sharp focus, we need to take regular time-outs to relax and recharge. Time out is the exact tool that will gently remind you to take a break on a regular basis.
StepShot is recognized as an authoritative screenshot-based documentation tool for developers, Scrum Masters, designers, testers and others who need to transfer knowledge within the company. The program captures sequential screenshots for every click, provides text descriptions and automatically groups screenshots into a guide. You can also edit the screenshot, add your own comments, and export a guide to MS Word, PDF, HTML, or XML. Everyone has the ability to start a 14-day trial and discover all the benefits of StepShot for free!
LastPass provides a great solution for those who are sick and tired of struggling to remember passwords for all their online applications and stores. This tool automatically creates strong passwords for you, remembers them and gives you secure access from every computer and mobile device. With LastPass, you only need to remember one master password in order to log in to your account to have access to your password information.
So, to wrap things up, if you notice that your team’s velocity is tanking, try to help them work smarter with these awesome tips and tools. If you have experienced such a problem on your team and have applied some better solutions, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.