I recently saw an excellent blog post about iteration velocity. Good reading in general, but the last paragraph really got my attention and is why I’m writing this blog post. Do NOT compare velocities between teams! All teams will size (or estimate) with a slightly different scale. When I teach a course on agile I tell teams to size using points, not hours or ideal days (a blog post for another time). This means each team determines for their situation what a size “1” and all other sizes will be. They are going to be different.
If you start measuring teams against each other by comparing velocities you will get what you measure. Teams will start changing their scale so their velocity increases each iteration. Suddenly what was a size 1 last iteration is now a size 3 (or worse!). Don’t fall into this trap. If teams are working hard, meeting their iteration objectives and keeping the product owner happy I don’t care if their velocity is 10 or 10,000.
Until next time I’ll continue warning managers about this practice so it won’t adversely affect their teams which are Making Agile a Reality™.