White Papers

Whitepaper: The Six Key Drivers of Agile Project Productivity and Predictability

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

This is part of a series of abridged white papers intended as quick reference sources for busy managers interested in the subject matter and faced with limited time to absorb lengthy research documentation.

It is based on research undertaken by Plandek drawn from anonymised data observed across a range of clients – from small start ups to large corporates with large scale, distributed Agile teams.

Purpose of this Paper

The analysis presented below is focused on the software development process and is particularly relevant for Scrum Agile environments.  It is designed to give delivery managers a practical guide to the KPIs (easily seen within the Plandek dashboard) that directly drive project productivity and hence are strong predictors of project velocity and delivery timing.  

The Plandek platform can be used to track these metrics and set actionable goals to actively manage them throughout the duration of an Agile project or phase.  If actively managed, they have been shown to demonstrably improve project productivity and delivery predictability.  

Nature of the Analysis

The proprietary analysis is based on experience of working with clients and analysing anonymised data from strongly performing and poorly performing Agile software development projects observed between January 2017 and June 2018.  

The Plandek dashboard surfaces over 120 metrics at project, team and individual level across the complete history of a project.  As per Figure 1 overleaf, Plandek collects data from four key sources:  

1. The complete history of tickets residing within workflow management tools
2. Meta-data from code repositories to review how code has been committed
3. Code quality tools
4. Time trackers to show resource time (and cost) allocation  

Plandek is therefore focused specifically on the activity of software development teams and related QA functions. Plandek does not currently analyse data from DevOps activity where completed code is integrated and deployed to a live environment.  

As a result, the scope of this Whitepaper, is the software development stage of the process only, excluding pre-development and post-development (integration and deployment).

The data collected within the Plandek tool are analysed to look for the underlying drivers of productivity and predictors of future problems (early warning signs).  Problem projects are defined as projects with rapidly declining velocity, late delivery and unplanned overspend.  

This paper is based on the findings of this research, undertaken in-house and in consultation with a number of clients, partners and interviewees principally based in the UK, consulted between September 2017 and June 2018.  

All the metrics discussed are easily viewable within the Plandek analytics platform.

The Six Drivers of Project Productivity and Predictability in Agile Environments  

The six key drivers empirically observed as drivers of productivity and hence useful predictors of future project velocity and timing are:

1. The critical enabler – best practice Agile process and tool use  

..and the key project practices…

2. Sprint disciplines and consistent delivery of sprint goals (Scrum Agile)
3. Proportion of time spent/efficiency of writing new features (productive coding)
4. QA failure rate and therefore…
5. Proportion of time spent/efficiency of bug fixing and re-working returns from QA
6. Teamwork and the ability to collaborate effectively.

All the metrics discussed are easily viewable within the Plandek analytics platform. Plandek currently integrates with the Atlassian stack – the analysis is therefore focused around companies using Jira as their principle workflow management tool.

Read the complete whitepaper here

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