Ready to learn about velocity charts and understand how to use them?
A velocity chart is a great tool to quickly track your team’s progress rate and estimate your project’s completion time.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about velocity charts to help you use them for your Agile planning processes.
This Article Contains:
(click on the links to jump to a section)
- What is velocity?
- What is a velocity chart?
- How do you read a velocity chart?
- How do you measure velocity?
- How do you use velocity in Agile scrum methodology?
- Key benefits of using a velocity chart
- The limitations of velocity charts
- The best velocity chart tool
Let’s get started.
What is velocity?
In Agile Software Development, velocity is the amount of work a team can handle in a set period of time (sprint).
Managers use velocity to measure the rate at which your Agile or scrum development team delivers value to a business. For example, velocity will help you determine how quickly a team can complete the work assigned to them.
So how do Agile teams harness the power of velocity?
Here are two principal uses of velocity:
A. Estimate Development Time
Managers can use velocity to predict when the team will be able to ship out the final product. For example, if you know how much work a team can finish during each sprint, you’ll know how many sprints the entire project will take.
B. Identify Team Potential
A product owner and manager can use velocity to observe how a team develops over time.
If the team velocity consistently increases after every sprint, it shows that they are learning quickly. It also indicates that they are ready to handle increasingly complex tasks.
A project manager or scrum master can use velocity as a key metric during their scrum meetings to determine productivity rates.
What is a velocity chart?
A velocity chart is a visual representation of your project’s progress that highlights:
- The overall status of a project
- The amount of work your team can handle in future sprints
It’s an easy way for project managers to gauge how fast their team is progressing. It’s also an easy way to highlight your team’s productivity during sprint planning and sprint review sessions.
How do you read a velocity chart?
Here’s an example of a great velocity chart:
Here’s what it measures:
A. Story Points
It is a measure of the effort you’ll need to complete your project tasks (user stories).
How do you calculate these story points?
The time taken to complete the simplest user story is taken as the baseline and is assigned 1 point. Similarly, the other user stories are assigned story points proportional to the baseline.
Let’s suppose a feature that takes 2 hours to develop is assigned 1 story point, then a feature that takes 4 hours to complete is assigned 2 story points.
It is a measure of the time taken to complete a section of the project. A sprint can last anywhere from 1 – 4 weeks.
And here’s a breakdown of the elements in the graph:
1. Story Points (Y-axis)
In this graph, it can be used to measure the number of story points that can be completed in one sprint by one team.
2. Sprints (X-axis)
It displays the sprints completed by the team.
3. Estimation (Gray Bar)
The gray bar is the total amount of story points the team is expected to complete in one sprint. After the sprint has started, any new user stories or changes are not included in this total.
4. Completed (Green Bar)
The green bar is the total number of story points the team has actually completed in one sprint. Any scope additions after the sprint has started are not included in this total.
How do you measure velocity?
Agile and Scrum velocity can help team leaders estimate the number of user stories the team can handle in future sprints.
Velocity is calculated by taking the average of the total completed story points (green bars) over the last five sprints.
Let’s calculate the team’s velocity in the above chart:
The team’s velocity is: (82 + 85 + 100+ 80 + 90) / 5 = 87.40
This means that the product owner can expect their team to complete at least 87.40 story points worth of work in the next sprint.
It’s also important to note that velocity becomes more accurate over time.
The more sprints your team works on, the more data you receive about their performance. This will help you make more accurate estimates about how long sprints take.
How Do You Use Velocity in Agile Scrum Methodology?
Velocity plays an important role in Agile Software Development.
Before planning out a large project, you would need to estimate the number of sprints ( iterations) required to complete it.
By knowing the number of iterations, you can figure out when your Agile or scrum team will be able to roll out the final product.
So how do you use velocity for iteration count estimation?
- Look at the velocity chart of a similar project to determine your Agile or scrum team’s average velocity
- Determine the number of user stories your team will be working on in a particular project
- Add up the story points of each individual user story to be completed in that project
- Divide the total number of story points with your team’s velocity
Here’s this procedure in action.
Let’s say your Agile or scrum team has to work on three user stories in a project: A, B, & C.
A & B are worth 400 story points each, and C is worth 70 story points.
Your team has to work on (400 + 400 + 70) = 870 story points in one iteration.
Now judging by the previous velocity chart, your team’s average velocity is 87.40 story points.
By dividing the two metrics we get:
(870 / 87.40) ≈ 10
We can estimate that it would take approximately 10 sprints for the team to clear the product backlog.
Note: This estimate only holds true if your Agile or scrum team continues working with the same high velocity.
The two key benefits of using a velocity chart
Here are the two key benefits of using a velocity chart:
1. Helps you make better predictions about your team’s capabilities
Knowing your team velocity or scrum velocity can help you make better predictions about your team’s capabilities.
Here’s how it works:
Let’s say that your sprint involves completing tasks A, B, C worth 13, 12, and 5 story points respectively. This means that your team has to complete 30 story points in that iteration.
However, your team velocity is known to be just 20 story points.
As the team can only finish 20 story points on average, they would struggle to complete tasks worth 30 story points in that sprint.
This way, you can better estimate what your team is capable of preventing bottlenecks from clogging up your workflows.
2. Highlights issues before they become problems
Velocity charts show the velocity of a team for every iteration.
If you see the team’s velocity dipping, they might be facing some hiccups along the way.
Their velocity can be hampered by:
- Poor Team Communication – Your scrum meetings or stand-ups might not be as effective as you thought
- Low Productivity – Employees might be facing distractions or might be unmotivated
- Excessive Software Bugs – Product quality might not be up to the mark
Your team can identify these issues during their daily meetings to prevent them from becoming large-scale problems.
The two limits of velocity charts
While velocity charts are essential to Agile project management, they have a few limitations:
1. It’s not a precise unit of measure
Velocity is always an estimation of work that can be done.
It can always fluctuate due to reasons like:
- New members joining the team
- New processes being introduced
- Changes in project scope
In the sprint planning phase, velocity should be used as a rough guideline and not a concrete metric.
2. Can’t compare velocity of different teams
There are no standard units for velocity.
Velocity isn’t always estimated with story points. Teams can use various metrics like hours or tasks completed as a unit.
As a result, velocity is often subjective.
Since each team has its own velocity units, it can be difficult to share velocity data between teams.
How to use ClickUp for Agile project management
If you want to adopt the Agile methodology, you’re going to need the right project management tool.
Fortunately, ClickUp was built for Agile Project Management.
ClickUp is one of the world’s highest-rated Agile project management tools. Used by Google, Nike, and Airbnb, it has everything you need to manage your development projects. Whether you have to focus on release planning or managing a team’s workflow, ClickUp can handle it all!
Here’s a quick glance at some ClickUp’s key Agile planning features:
1. Velocity charts
A velocity chart determines the completion rate of your tasks.
Unlike some other velocity charts, ClickUp’s charts are easy to understand! This makes it easy for clients and customers to read them and understand how fast your team is progressing.
In ClickUp’s velocity chart, tasks are broken down into weekly intervals, and the average velocity is then displayed. You can choose to view the velocity of a team over a period of 1, 2, 3, 6, and 12 month periods.
The chart also allows you to use any metric (tasks, story points, time estimates) as a unit of velocity.
However, that isn’t all.
ClickUp’s velocity charts are automated!
Once a task is completed, ClickUp automatically groups the tasks in the bar chart, based on custom fields or lists. This can give you a better understanding of what types of tasks were completed in the sprint.
However, velocity charts aren’t all that ClickUp gives you.
Build a detailed ClickUp Dashboard for high-level overviews of your projects.
Widgets are the building blocks of each Dashboard and will help you get insights on:
- And more!
You can even customize:
- The data source of each widget: such as data from sprint lists or custom fields
- The time period: such as a rolling 30 day period or a fixed range
- The workload type: such as sprint capacity based on a story points
Here’s a quick look at some of the other widgets you can add:
A. Burnup charts
Add a burnup chart to your dashboard to help you see what you’ve completed against your remaining tasks.
It’s a great way to show your team what they’ve achieved and motivate them to your goal!
ClickUp’s burnup charts are also color-coded, so they are easier to read.
- The number of tasks completed is a green line.
- The total number of tasks is depicted in gray.
B. Burndown Charts
A release burndown chart highlights the amount of work remaining in a project.
ClickUp’s release burndown reports come with a projected progress line. This line highlights what your project’s progress will look like if the team continues working at the same rate. This helps you determine if you’ll be able to finish your backlog items before a specified deadline.
ClickUp’s burndowns are also color-coded for easy identification:
- Your target line is a red dotted line
- Your actual progress is a blue line
- Your projected project progress is a yellow dotted line
C. Cumulative flow diagram
Want to visualize and track project progress over a time period?
Add a cumulative flow diagram to the Agile management Dashboard.
ClickUp’s cumulative flow diagram makes it easier to see how much of your backlog is cleared and will help you identify completion issues quickly.
2. Gantt charts
ClickUp’s Gantt charts can help you determine if things are going according to plan or not.
It neatly arranges all your team’s tasks and dependencies, so that you can view them in one glance.
Is your team facing difficulties?
Simply readjust your dependencies, and you’re back on track!
Unlike most other Gantt charts, ClickUp’s charts don’t require manual inputs.
Here are some of its automated features:
- They readjust task dependencies whenever scheduling changes are made.
- They calculate your progress percentage based on completed tasks against total tasks.
- They compare your current project progress against your expected progress
- They can estimate your critical path to identify the most important tasks to achieve your goals.
3. Sprint lists
Sprint planning is incomplete without a sprint list, right?
ClickUp can add checklists to all your Agile projects, tasks and subtasks. With this, you can create sprint lists that break down the deliverables for the next sprint release. Once you’re done with the tasks, you can check these items off and focus on your next user stories.
You can even add story points to each list to keep track of your product backlog items.
Keep track of all your Agile and Scrum projects with a variety of reports. Here’s a closer look at these reports and what they track:
1. Task Completed Report
This report displays the tasks completed by each team member
2. Worked On Report
This report highlights the tasks each user has been active in
Note – to be active in a task, the user must have performed some action on the task
3. Workspace Points Report
This report gamifies Agile development to motivate your team to finish more tasks
This report highlights:
- Cleared Notifications – The number of notifications cleared
- Comments added – The number of comments added to tasks
- Resolved – The number of resolved comments
- Completed – The number of tasks completed and closed
- Worked on – The number of tasks that a user has been a part of
- Total – The sum of all of the numbers from each column
4. Who’s Behind Report
This report reveals which team members have unfinished or ‘work in progress’ tasks. It helps you identify which team member needs to step up their efforts.
5. Time Tracked Report
Do you know how much time your team members spend on tasks? This report gives you detailed time tracking insights into your team’s activities
However, that isn’t all of ClickUp’s features!
You can even access unique features like:
- Assigned Comments – to quickly assign tasks to team members
- Priorities – to help you tackle the most important tasks first
- Dependencies – to help your team complete the sprint backlog in the right order
- Docs – to create a detailed resource of project and company-related data
- Multiple Views – to help you adapt to different Agile software planning processes. For example, you can use a Kanban board to manage your ClickUp tasks as a Kanban workflow or use our List view to manage tasks through a GTD-style to-do list
Velocity charts are one of the simplest ways to track the progress of your Agile teams. They help you understand the rate at which your team is progressing with every sprint and are an essential part of Agile software development.
And as you need the right tools to manage your Agile and scrum teams, why not download ClickUp today?
It has all the features you need to manage the planning, management, and execution of all your Agile tasks and activities!