Are You Measuring What's Done or What's Left?


I'm at PNSQC this week. I gave my metrics talk yesterday, and something occurred to me: in traditional projects, we're used to measuring what's been done. In agile projects, we measure what's left to do. I just realized yesterday that the difference in how we measure makes a difference in how people feel about the project. The more you measure what's left, the more you can see the end of the iteration or the end of the project. It's also a lot clearer to see how many more iterations it will take if management decides to add more features.

I'll be modifying my measurements — even for not-specifically-agile projects — to reflect what's left to do, not what's done.

1 thought on “Are You Measuring What's Done or What's Left?”

  1. I’m sorry but this just doesn’t resonate with me at all.
    The “how much do we still have to do”, is just the other side of the EV coin.
    If you’re talking about burn down charts in Scrum (measured in hours or days) then those are just traditional EV charts. There not new.
    My view of agile is that you report the working code – the business function that is complete – the value delivered. It’s not EV in the traditional sense but it would resonate with the common lay person interpretation of what “earned value” ought to mean.
    Agile isn’t about “on-time, on-budget with agreed function”. It’s about “do the best you possibly can with the time limit and release it as working code.”
    You don’t report the what’s left to do, you report the velocity and an estimate of what is likely to be completed within the time limit.

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