Top 16 Most Important Agile Metrics That Define Your Success

Updated Aug 3, 2022.

Many companies do not keep track of key agile metrics. Initially created for a software development project, the agile methodology is one of the best project management methodologies used across virtually all industries due to its enticing benefits. 

Some of the key benefits of agile include superior product quality through continuous improvement, higher customer satisfaction, and better quality control. 

Switching to agile alone will not automatically provide you with full agile benefits. You need to introduce agile metrics to attract the desired value to your projects and company. 

Agile project metrics help you measure and track productivity and the project team’s performance across the several stages of the software development lifecycle (SDLC).

This article will show you need to know about agile project metrics, lean metrics, and other key performance indicators (KPIs) essential to ensure consistent performance and good project progress.

Let’s dive in.

What are Agile Metrics?

Agile metrics are effective and standard measurement tools that measure the work done across the project management lifecycle

Some advantages of using agile performance metrics include helping expose the potential bottlenecks of the software development process and the high points achieved during implementation and tracking the team’s progress. 

The result emanating from using the best agile metrics is solely from critical data. You can use this information for future referral purposes as a guide to help improve the project team’s performance and deployed software quality. 

As a subset of project KPIs, agile performance metrics make up the foundational groundwork of your project roadmap by serving as an effective monitoring tool. 

Here is an example of an agile metrics dashboard showing customer satisfaction. 

Customer Satisfaction dashboard
Source: Bold BI

Parameters Measured by Agile KPIs

There are essential agile quality measures to ensure the project teams’ performance and the entire process is in order. 

  • Productivity of the software development team and project
  • Level of the progress of the software development team and project
  • Software quality
  • Performance of the software under development
  • The success of the software development project
  • Predictability of the software under development

Benefits of Using Agile Metrics in Project Management

Why are agile metrics important? Agile project metrics are helpful for a series of reasons during a project. One of the benefits of using agile quality metrics is its effectiveness in measuring team performance. 

The main goal of any agile KPI is to ensure project teams can be self-manageable throughout the project process. Project management software tools use agile vital metrics to help the project manager track, manage, and improve the performance of the project team. 

Agile Metrics in Project Management
Source: Eliassen Group 

1. Provides a Realistic and Data-Based Project Overlook

What drives agile metrics are key and up-to-date project data. Accurate data is the backbone of the agile implementation process. These essential data help guide agile implementation and help track the performance of the project process as these actual data act as standards.  

2. Helps Keep Teams Focused

The project team is the driving force of the project process. However, ensuring they stay committed throughout the project process is usually an uphill task. 

Agile metrics, if properly implemented, help keep the project team in check and guarantee maximum team performance.

3. Encourages Consistent Self-Improvement and Self-Management

Apart from successful project delivery, the ultimate goal of implementing agile metrics is to build the project team to consistent self-improvement and self-management. This fact is an effective and proven result-getter. Although the self-improvement process is gradual, its guaranteed benefits deserve every second spent.  

4. Timely Delivery of Project Outcome

The project process is about delivering a quality software program at the end of the scheduled project timeline. Agile KPIs guarantee a standard delivery process and ensure completion does not surpass the pre-scheduled date. 

Types of Common Agile Metrics

Agile metrics that matter falls into three operational standards. Project managers working in an agile environment use these three agile metric types.

1. Agile Metrics to Improve Flow

Successful and prompt delivery is impossible in utilizing agile metrics unless utilized alongside an efficient workflow. 

Some agile metrics for scrutiny to improve workflow are queue and throughput. The queue is the waiting period between successive tasks, while throughput is an effective quantifier of work done during a specific project cycle.

2. Agile Metrics to Improve the Speed of Delivery

Speed and quality delivery is the primary demand of customers. Exploiting this fact to your advantage is key to the success of any software development organization. 

Some of the agile metrics, if effectively managed, that can improve the speed of project delivery are the blockers (which represent stagnant and reductant tasks), work in progress, and cycle and lead time. 

3. Agile Metrics for Operational Success

The total cost, delivery performance, and safety all make up the standard agile metrics utilized for operational success as they seek to improve the profitability of the project process. 

Common Types of Agile Quality Metrics in Various Agile Frameworks

Classification of agile metrics is ever-changing. However, there are three main vital metrics for agile development teams.  

1. Kanban Metrics

Kanban metrics measure their ratio’s cycle times (invested time) and throughput (delivered results).

2. Scrum Metrics

Scrum metrics focus on planning and understanding the project workflow and measuring the team performance in any given timeframe. The focus of scrum is on the predictable delivery of end products to users.  

3. Lean Metrics 

Lean metrics refer to the continuous measurement and testing done on a project to ensure production efficiency and superior product quality. The goal of lean metrics is to ensure continuous improvement of agile processes. 

When using lean metrics to track your project progress, you have to involve a technical assessment to test product, feature, and deliverability, check for errors and risks, and spot negative effects early. 

Combining lean metrics with agile key performance indicators (KPIs) provides a balanced picture, and the recipe project managers use to manage and deliver successful projects.

List Of The Top 16 Most Important Metrics In Agile Project Management

Limiting the number of agile metrics to use during a project process is one of the most efficient ways of guaranteeing a less complex process. In addition, this move helps to limit the barest minimum, the occurrence of bottlenecks throughout the project process. 

Agile metrics are efficient tools that provide a more broad and less complicated understanding of the project process while making the delivery process relatively more straightforward. Many agile project management software tools make use of these crucial agile metrics. 

1. Sprint Burndown Report

A sprint burndown report is a documentation tool that records and tracks the workflow of various scrum teams during agile development in each sprint. At the inception of the agile project management process, measures and strategies need to be in place detailing the work each scrum team can deliver in an orderly and well-organized agile sprint

Since the sprint is time-bound, regular and periodic tracking of tasks for hours or backlogs is essential to ensure efficient performance assessment against set parameters. 

Represent the result of a sprint burndown in the form of a graph. You can measure the sprint burndown chart at any point of the project process while also predicting the estimated time left for sprint completion. 

The graph is a measurement of the actual scrum task compared with the estimated scrum tasks to have a visual and more thorough understanding of each scrum team’s performance. Time and tasks are the two critical parameters needed for a thorough sprint burndown report. 

Plot each task on the horizontal axis of your graph against time on the vertical axis. The outcome of your graph is in the timeframe where you measure the time. 

Your sprint burndown chart is essential for predicting the workload at the start of the project execution process against the estimated time of delivery of the sprint.  

Sprint Burn-Down Chart
Source: ResearchGate

2. Agile Velocity

Agile velocity accurately measures the amount of work you want to complete across a specific time frame. This critical metric is popular among agile teams in their quest for efficient project management because it shows how much value got delivered to the customers. 

The main aim of agile velocity is to afford teams the ability to predict the estimated completion time of the project. This key metric is the time required to transform software statements into software codes. 

Agile velocity determines the average workload of an agile project team during the sprint, based on a precise number of iterations. You can improve the preciseness of agile velocity by increasing the number of iterations. Agile velocity measures the number of story points completed by a team.

Unlike other vital agile metrics, agile velocity does not identify or measure the level of performance of team members or the quality of the delivered output. However, agile metrics come in handy in accurately predicting the likely outcome of upcoming sprints. 

If your determined agile velocity is constant and unvarying, team members are moving in the right direction regarding project delivery. But if your measured agile velocity is staggering or declining, it indicates a derailment of the agile team from the completion process. 

This decline acts as an efficient correction mechanism to ensure the non-compromise of the quality and performance of the project output.

Velocity chart
Source: Kissflow

3. Epic and Release Burndown

Unlike the sprint burndown, the epic and release burndown chart allows organizations to effectively track the progress of the project process over a more robust work body by adequately focusing on the bigger picture. 

Series of epics and versions of work co-exist in a sprint. Therefore, in tracking the progress of each epic or version of work, it is equally important to keep tabs on the progress of each sprint. 

The epic and release burndown version ensures team members in your team are aware of the various available workflows in the epic and version. 

Represent the epic and release burndown graphically in a chart-like format detailing the amount of uncompleted work over a specific timeframe. A burndown chart shows story points at the horizontal axis and sprints on the vertical axis. 

Epic and release burndown is an effective tracking tool for epics, versions, and sprints. They are efficient for keeping team members up-to-date about the series of workflows in epic and versions. 

With the successful completion of some set tasks, the number of executables in the epic drops until they reach zero. This concept is helpful for a project that requires the implementation of milestones

The epic and release burndown helps project teams meet the expected delivery dates of the project outcome and help edit the timeline to be more suitable and realistic.

Epic and Release Burndown
Source: ResearchGate

4. Lead Time

Lead is an essential and easy-to-implement agile key metric that measures the timeframe from the project’s inception to its completion stage. The project lead time starts reading from the point where you insert the user story into the backlog up to the point when you complete and deliver the sprint. 

You can view lead time as the time difference between when a client makes an order for a specific product and when the actual product reaches the client. Lead time is notable for its detailed and accurate calculation of the expected time for each project process. 

With its unique benefit of allowing agile teams to spot potential hiccups and issues well ahead before appearing, lead time helps provide the much-needed knowledge about the project’s completion rate. 

These unique agile metrics work hand-in-hand with the cycle time and velocity to ascertain the level of efficiency of the agile team. The length of the lead time has tremendous consequences on the efficiency of the agile team; that is, the longer the lead time, the more inefficient the team is. Conversely, a shorter lead time guarantees better efficiency among the project team.

The length of the lead time of the agile team
Source: Kanbanize

5. Cumulative Flow Diagram (CFD)

Cumulative flow diagram (CFD) is one of agile teams’ most popular and widely used agile metric tools. The main aim of the cumulative flow diagram is its consistency in ensuring the most quality of outcomes gets delivered. 

CFD comprises a kanban metric system in which agile teams have unlimited access to the progress status of various tasks under implementation, either as back-log tasks or work-in-progress, or under review. 

A perfect cumulative flow diagram slides from left to right to form a smoothened band. Any out-of-place diagram not following this pattern is a potential bottleneck that needs immediate attention.

If the band seems narrower, the throughput is relatively higher than the entry rate. A wider color band indicates a much greater workflow capacity than initially required and requires a shift to smooth this band. 

The cumulative flow diagram is an effective tracking tool for the overall progress status of the project process. This flow diagram has story points on the horizontal axis and the time range for each task on the vertical axis. 

In addition, the display of various colors in the cumulative flow diagram indicates the status of different tasks. With its real-time tracking mechanism, the cumulative flow diagram helps sight bottlenecks and puts a corrective mechanism from a mile away before it negatively affects the project process. 

Cumulative flow diagram
Source: Kanban Zone

6. Cycle Time

Although similar to velocity and lead time, cycle time is an entirely different agile essential metric measurement tool. This agile metric measures the estimated time required for a scheduled task to move from its inception to its work in progress or under the review stage. 

The cycle time is an efficient tracking mechanism used to ascertain the time required for a successful software release. By keeping an eye on the agile teams’ performance, this agile top metric helps to point out extreme cases where the cycle time is longer than a sprint. Cycle time helps to indicate a significant setback in the project completion process.  

cycle time is an efficient tracking mechanism
Source: Kanbanize

7. Control Chart

Control charts work in conjunction with cycle times to ascertain the issues that arise from the project process about various individuals in the team. This agile metric tool aims to predict the relative stability and behavioral process of the project development process. 

The more consistent your project cycle time is, the more predictable the project deliverables expected of the team become. Therefore, every control chart focuses on the time required for tasks tagged or categorized as in progress to move to its successful completion stage. 

If properly measured, the control chart is an efficient tool for guaranteeing if a project will turn out successful or not. The control chart can determine potential bottlenecks and helps isolate individual bottlenecks and determine their cycle time. For teams with short cycle times, they have a relatively high throughput. 

When measuring the cycle time of a project process or task, the aim is to improve the flexibility of the project process as regards project delivery. This aim allows teams to hastily enact the needed changes in ensuring a short and consistent cycle time for each sprint. 

control chart for project management
Source: Lean Agile Tools

8. Value Delivered

Value delivered is all about assigning points or monetary value based on value delivered for completed project tasks delivered to respective clients. Every requirement that comprises a task or project is assigned a specific value. 

Teams focus and emphasize implementing tasks with a high value assigned to them. To effectively calculate the actual value for delivery, you have to calculate the ratio between the expected revenue and the total value points. This ratio is the value delivered. 

The distribution of value points is across the various user stories, and the more stories completed, the more value points amassed. From the chart trend emanating from these measurements, the difference in respective trends is the value delivered. 

A downward trend emphasizes low-value tasks and needs correction to get more points in the value delivery system. Likewise, an upward trend points out that the team’s focus is on high-value tasks as they should be. 

The primary duty of the project manager is to assign a fair value to various project tasks and activities and put the project team up to them. 

9. Throughput

Throughput divides the overall timeline into time units and measures the average number of tasks for completion in each time unit. By adequately measuring how many story points per iteration, throughput is an effective tool to determine the agile teams’ productivity as a measure of the number of tasks delivered to intending clients per unit time. 

You can measure throughput based on specific time frames per quarter, month, week, or iteration. Despite being an effective performance measurement tool, throughput, if properly utilized, provides the project team a clear idea of the effect workflow has on the performance level of the project.  

One major disadvantage of throughput is that it cannot determine the commencement point of tasks and activities even with its numerous features. However, throughput can provide teams with a basic knowledge of the average time required for the software under development to reach full completion. 

Likewise, you can determine the number of software for development with throughput and the agile teams’ concentration level during a specific time frame. Data emanating from throughput can serve as a guide to predict future performance during other project development processes. 

the number of software for development with throughput
Source: Kanban Zone

10. Escaped Defects

Bugs are performance reduction strategies that cause unwanted damage to the software development process. They negatively affect the project process and need swift identification and uprooting before settling into the software you are developing. 

With escaped defects, you can remove the activities and effects of software bugs. In addition, escaped defects allow teams to ascertain the product’s quality for delivery effectively. You can identify and remove the bugs that scaled through the initial screening process before onward distribution for delivery. 

11. Net Promoter Score

Net promoter score measures to a large extent the promotability of the produced product or service by the intending customers. In simpler terms, this agile key metric measures the product’s marketability by customers to other intending customers. 

You can measure the net promoter score on a scale ranging from -100 to +100. The higher the net promoter score, the more marketable the product or service is to the customer world. 

Project managers and businesses can utilize this metric to measure the performance of the product output in the customer world. In addition, the net promoter score enables respective organizations to determine the level of loyalty of customers to their respective products. 

Net Promoter Score for project management
Source: Product Coalition

12. Work Item Age

The work item age serves as the aging work in progress by effectively measuring the time between the project inception stage and the project successful completion stage of various actual tasks. 

This key metric estimates the timeline for unfinished tasks. Work item age is an effective tool to compare the result obtained from previously completed tasks against similar tasks for completion using similar or the same processes. 

Implement the work item agile as a measurement tool in your progress chart to track the progress of the ongoing task. 

SPARK Board - Work Item Age
Source: Actionable Agile

13. Blocked Time

Blocked time uses stickers in block form assigned to a yet-to-be-completed task. These pending tasks come to be since they are dependent on completing other tasks before their inception. 

On completing these dependent tasks, the blocked sticker tag gets removed and relocated to the right of your task board. The number and duration of the blocked cards give an accurate insight into the number of blockers plaguing the project process and the total amount of blocked time. 

Promptly deal with blockers as they tend to hamper the project process and elongate the project’s expected delivery timeline.  

14. Failed Deployments

Failed deployments are useful agile KPIs in terms of outcome quality to ascertain the exact number of overall deployments made during the project process. 

This agile key metric is efficient for predicting the needed change for the project process from its planning and inception stage or sprint stage into its production and implementation stage. 

You can determine failed deployments by carrying out the necessary tests and assurances on production environments before fully diving into them. 

15. Code Coverage

Code coverage aims to ascertain the percentage of code unit tests covered with every build. You arrive at this percentage based on the scrutiny of raw data presented. 

This agile KPI is an effective measurement tool for determining the level of progress made on each sprint and the overall project process. 

You can measure code coverage by calculating the number of methods, conditions, branches, or statements executed as a unit test suite. A low code coverage indicates low code quality; however, high coverage is not a guarantee for high code quality. 

16. Quality Intelligence

Quality intelligence is your go-to agile key metric for a better understanding the software output quality. With the aid of this metric, teams enjoy the rare ability to ascertain when and where to invest more quality time in code testing to maximize better output and overall performance. 

In isolated cases where you introduce new software codes, QI tools help the project team identify these new codes to ascertain their level of influence on the estimated output.  

The quality of the newly implemented codes does not conform to the project’s standards. However, quality intelligence helps enact the necessary changes or the total overhaul of the new codes easier.  

Other important agile key metrics include static code analysis and deployment frequency.

How to Apply the Best Agile Metrics

The sole purpose of adequately utilizing key agile metrics is to establish a delivery-based value system between customers and respective organizations. 

Agile metrics help augment the project process through efficient implementation of the agile framework. If appropriately implemented by respective teams, key agile metrics aim to deliver better customer value. 

1. Balance Agile Metrics with Other Metrics Tools

Finding a perfect working relationship between your chosen agile and other metrics is instrumental to successful project completion. Design the process so that each metric tool balances or compliments each other rather than obstructing the successful implementation of each other. 

2. Limit the Use of Agile Metrics to the Agile Team

During the project process, make decisions on the use of various agile metrics based on discussions with your project team. Restricting the interference of the outside world on decisions regarding the choice of agile metrics to use ensures there is no occurrence of misplaced priorities. 

3. Discuss the Choice of Agile Metrics Thoroughly Before Implementing

Agile metrics can be an effective tool to proffer solutions to issues faced during the project. Therefore, regular discussions on the most effective ways of implementing the chosen agile metrics should regularly occur among project teams. 

Agile Metrics FAQ

What is KPI in Agile?

KPIs guide agile project teams to ensure the project process does not deviate from its set course in achieving its goals and objectives. They are vital in agile sprints as effective software planning, and designing tools ensure the highest output quality. 

What are Sprint Metrics?

n Scrum, sprints allow agile project teams to set a realistic and achievable goal within an assigned period. Sprint metrics are practical agile metric tools that assist the team in evaluating and isolating potential issues that tend to plague the project and reduce performance and output delivery. 

Anastasia Belyh

Editor at FounderJar

Anastasia has been a professional blogger and researcher since 2014. She loves to perform in-depth software reviews to help software buyers make informed decisions when choosing project management software, CRM tools, website builders, and everything around growing a startup business.

Anastasia worked in management consulting and tech startups, so she has lots of experience in helping professionals choosing the right business software.