Business Value Impact over Velocity


Undoubtedly Velocity and Business Value are two default yardstick of agile project measurements. Velocity is measure of output and business value impact is measure of outcome. Considering velocity alone as measure results in scoring points volume at the end of each iteration however resultant outcome may be negligible as MVP or end to end business value is missing. On the other hand focusing only on business value impact or outcome results in delivery teams skipping regular showcase and escaping delivery accountability with argument – “We don’t have anything to show in this iteration as we are working on business value”!!!!!

Recently at one organization most of agile teams were measuring success of an iteration by number of stories or story points delivered however program delivery manager was not concern with argument that everybody does it-not just one team in our company. Measuring the Velocity is comparatively easy but one cannot claim it to be the ultimate answer to agile project success. In my opinion, balancing both business value impact and velocity is important than simply measuring one of them.

Clear understanding of velocity over impact is needed before we plunge into defining the business impact. If your agile teams are measuring project success with velocity only than you are heading for agile anxiety as you are experiencing one or more below listed warning signs:

Incoherent and unclear sprint goals: Your goals may not be parallely aligned with your team’s mission. The goals can be mixed up defining no clear terms or focus on the long-short term vision.

Multiple goals: Team with one goal is good but many–it is overwhelming. James Carville once likely gave an advice: “If you say three things, you say nothing.” Define one goal, and target it with complete determination and conviction. Have one goal at one time; having multiple goals at one time will end you at nowhere.

Irregular sprint work: Maybe the set goals are strategically strong, maybe they are extremely powerful, but the possibility is that they may not be in alignment with sprint backlogs. It is a huge problem if the goals set are not made and suitable for the backlogs.

Exaggeration of velocity: Stakeholders would associate a high number of completed story points with equally high amount of impact, when other measures of success are absent. The similar mindset is transferred to the team members and so on. People are functioned to do what they study and learn, they don’t do what you expect.

Final review and nothing to demonstrate: Clueless and unprepared are the people who have been busy and worked rigorously. So when the time to present an increment of the product arrives, there is not much to share with the stakeholders. Thought the knowledge base is strong,  but the impact is not visible to show.

A clear understanding is required for velocity, that it is important and timely review is a necessary. As a standard protocol, I advocate the review at a regular timeboxed intervals. It has value just as impact does. That is because imact is elusive to uncover and sometimes difficult to measure. It can take the fillowing forms:

  • Increase at the bottom line: To measure the impact effects of the sprints takes time. Worse is when the organizations do not poccess the necessary tools to evaluate success of new product/feature quickly and efficiently.Encourage your company to conduct frequent A/B testing to make better data-driven decisions. An add-on for knowledge, Lean Startup by Eric Ries gives some excellent advice on this topic.
  • Reduce a substantialrisk: Taking risk is the last resort for product owners and they try to avoid it resulting in technology debts, unexpected infrastructure change or lack of an automated test suite. The right goal should be set to lessen the direct, indirect and residue risks associated with the iteration.
  • Experiment and make mistake: Mistakes are often the best teachers. We tend to invest too much time nd energy behind making something work, but eventually we learn that it cannot always be right. Failure is a huge part of success, without a taste of it, we learn nothing. Embrace failure once and learn to use it as a stepping stone to climb the ladder of success. Don’t let the failure win everytime, you will never win.
  • Increase team morale: Every organization practices different ways to boost the team morale. For us, we have periodic, company-wide hackathons and sprint time for our team members to encourage them for innovating their ideas. For a true leader, the credit of the idea lies with the benefactor. For a scrum master, the focus is self-centric.

Whatever be the outcome and however you plan to achieve it, I hope you will agree that undoubtedly impact is more valuable than velocity.

Your thoughts please…



Engineer by training; Business value advocate by choice. User, Coach, Trainer and active promoter of Business Model Innovation and Design Thinking. (after all its moral obligation when you learn from the best - Stanford Uni) Pivoted from merger and acquisition to digital transformation to defining innovation strategies to building startup to lean and agile delivery. Always inquisitive by nature and creative thinker in action believe in continuing life long learning journey.

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