Ready to learn about Agile velocity charts and understand how to use them?
If you’re following the Agile methodology, an Agile 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 process.
This Article Contains:
(Click on the links to jump to a section)
- Velocity Agile definition
- What is a velocity chart?
- How do you read a velocity chart?
- How do you perform velocity calculation?
- How to use the velocity metric in the Agile Scrum methodology?
- The 2 key benefits of velocity charts
- The 2 key limitations of velocity charts
- The best way to manage Agile velocity in 2020
Let’s get started.
What Is Agile Velocity?
Before learning about velocity charts, let’s first understand what “Agile velocity” exactly means. However, if you already know the velocity Agile definition, click here to jump directly to the section on velocity charts.
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 an Agile development team delivers value to a business. For example, Scrum velocity will help you determine how quickly a Scrum 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 sprint velocity to predict when the Agile 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 actual velocity to determine if their Agile team became more efficient over the development cycle.
If the team velocity consistently increases after every sprint, it shows that they are learning quickly. Increasing velocity also indicates that they are ready to handle more complex tasks.
Additionally, a project manager or Scrum master can use sprint velocity as one of the key Agile metrics to determine the team’s agility during their release planning meetings.
Now that you know the velocity Agile definition, let’s see what a velocity chart is.
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
- How much work your Agile team can handle in future sprints
It helps project managers gauge their team performance easily. You can also highlight your team’s agility during sprint planning, sprint review, or sprint retrospective sessions, using a velocity chart.
How Do You Read A Velocity Chart?
Here’s an example of a good velocity chart:
And here’s what it measures:
1. Story points
It’s a measure of the effort you’ll need to complete your project tasks (each user story).
How do you calculate a story point?
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.
For example, 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’s a measure of the development cycle time taken to complete a section of the project. A sprint length can be anywhere between 1-4 weeks.
And here’s a breakdown of the elements in the graph:
1. Story points (Y-axis)
In the Agile velocity graph, the Y-axis can be used to measure the number of total story points that can be completed in one sprint by a team.
2. Sprints (X-axis)
It displays the sprints completed by the team.
3. Estimation (Gray Bar)
The gray bar is the total 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 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 Perform a Velocity Calculation?
Agile and Scrum velocity can help team leaders estimate the number of user stories the team can handle in future sprints.
Project 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 = 87.4
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 sprint velocity becomes more accurate over time.
The more sprints they work on, the more data you receive about team performance.
During release planning meetings, you’ll be able to make more accurate estimates about how long sprints take.
How to Use the Velocity Metric in the Agile Scrum Methodology
Project velocity plays an important role in Agile software development.
Before planning out a large project, you would need to estimate the number of sprints (iteration) required to complete it.
If you know the number of iterations, you can easily determine when your Scrum team will be able to roll out the final product.
So how do you use the velocity metric to perform an Agile estimation for iterations?
- Look at the velocity report of a similar project to determine your Agile team’s average velocity
- Determine the number of user stories your team will be working on in a particular project
- Add up the story point for each 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, and C.
A and 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 Agile 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 if your Agile or Scrum team continues working with the same high iteration velocity.
The 2 Key Benefits Of Agile Velocity Charts
Here are the two key benefits of using a velocity report:
1. Helps you make better predictions about your team capacity
Knowing the team velocity or Scrum velocity can help the product owner and Scrum master make better predictions about team capacity.
Here’s how it works:
Let’s say that your current 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, you know that your team velocity is 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, velocity numbers help you better estimate if your team is capable of completing a task without facing bottlenecks.
2. Highlights issues before they become problems
Velocity numbers 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 project velocity can be hampered by:
- Poor team communication: your Scrum meetings or stand-ups might not be as effective as you thought
- Low productivity: teams might be facing distractions or have technical debt, reducing their agility
- Excessive software bugs: product quality might not be up to the mark
Your team can identify these issues during their daily meetings to prevent large-scale problems that affect overall enterprise agility.
The 2 Key Limitations Of Agile Velocity Charts
While velocity charts are essential for the Agile method, they have a few limitations:
1. It’s not a precise unit of measure
Velocity numbers are always an Agile estimation of how much work that can be done.
It can always fluctuate due to various reasons like:
- New members joining the team
- New processes being introduced
- Changes in project scope
In the sprint planning phase, iteration velocity should only be used as a rough guideline and not a concrete measure of enterprise agility.
2. Can’t compare the velocity of multiple teams
There are no standard units for velocity.
Velocity isn’t always estimated with a standard story point measure. You can use various Agile metrics like completed work or hours as a unit.
So if team A is using hours worked to measure their project velocity, team B could be using tasks completed instead.
As a result, velocity is often subjective.
Since each team has its own velocity units, it can be difficult to compare velocity data between multiple teams.
The Best Way To Manage Agile Velocity In 2020
To adopt the Agile methodology perfectly, teams need the right support for their fast-paced work.
You’ll need to ensure that they can deliver superior products without worrying about managing a hundred moving pieces, like velocity, points, stories, and other work items.
And the only way to solve all your Agile project management needs is by using the right Agile development tool.
Fortunately, ClickUp was built for teams that follow the Agile method.
But what’s ClickUp?
Used by 100,000+ teams from startups to giants like Google, Nike, Netflix, and Airbnb, it has everything you need to manage your Agile development projects.
Whether you have to focus on release planning, managing your remote team’s workflow, or helping multiple teams coordinate, ClickUp can handle it all!
Here’s how ClickUp helps multiple teams adapt to the Agile method and plan their sprints:
1. Velocity Chart
A velocity chart determines the completion rate of your tasks and helps you plan the next sprint.
Unlike most other iteration velocity charts, ClickUp’s Velocity Charts are super easy to understand! This makes it simple for clients and customers to read them and understand team performance.
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 (task, story point, cycle time estimates) as a unit of velocity.
The best part?
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 gives you a better understanding of what types of tasks were completed in the sprint.
However, Velocity Charts aren’t all that ClickUp gives you.
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: take data from Sprint Lists or Custom Fields
- The time period: set 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 Chart
Add a Burnup Chart to your ClickUp 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, making them easier to read.
- The number of tasks completed is shown as a green line
- The total number of tasks is depicted in gray
A release burndown chart highlights the amount of work remaining in a project.
ClickUp’s Burndown Chart comes with a projected progress line. This line highlights what your project’s progress will look like if the team keeps working at the same rate. It helps you determine if you’ll be able to finish every product backlog item before a specific deadline.
ClickUp’s Burndown Chart is 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
Want to visualize and track project progress over a time period?
Add a Cumulative Flow Diagram to your Agile Management Dashboard!
ClickUp’s Cumulative Flow Diagram makes it easier to see how much of your sprint backlog is cleared. It’ll also help you quickly identify any completion issues.
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:
- Readjust task dependencies whenever scheduling changes are made
- Calculate progress percentage based on completed tasks against total tasks
- Compare current project progress against your expected progress
- 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.
This helps you 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 your team’s performance across multiple sprints and projects with a variety of accurate Reports. Here’s a closer look at some of ClickUp’s key reports and what they track:
- Task Completed Report
This report displays the tasks completed by each team member.
- 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.
- Workspace Points Report
This report gamifies Agile development to motivate your team to finish more tasks.
This report highlights:
- Cleared notifications: number of notifications cleared
- Comments added: number of comments added to tasks
- Resolved: number of resolved comments
- Completed: number of tasks completed and closed
- Worked on: number of tasks that a user has been a part of
- Total: sum of all of the numbers from each column
- 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.
Want to know how much time your team members spend on tasks?
Never wonder again!
Use ClickUp’s Dashboard widgets to give you detailed time tracking insights into your team’s activities.
You get access to various types of time-tracking widgets such as:
- Time Reporting
- Billable Report
- Time Estimated
- Time Tracked
- Time Sheet
This way, you can help your team efficiently manage their work hours, helping them knock out your backlog in record time!
ClickUp offers a wide variety of unique features, including:
- Assigned Comments: assign tasks to team members
- Priorities: tackle the most important tasks first
- Dependencies: help your team complete the product backlog in the right order
- Docs: create detailed resources of project and company-related data
- Goals: plan upcoming sprint goals and break them down into Targets
- Multiple Views: easily adapt to different Agile project styles. For example, Kanban teams can use a Kanban board to manage your ClickUp tasks as a workflow or use our List view to manage tasks through a GTD-style to-do list.
- Pulse: know what tasks your team is most active in during a period
- Project Automation: automate 50+ repetitive tasks and save time
If you’re following the Agile methodology, a velocity report is one of the simplest ways to track your team capacity and enterprise agility. It’ll help you understand the rate at which your team progresses with every sprint and is an essential part of Agile software development.
It has all the features you need for planning, managing, and executing all your Agile tasks and activities!
Erica is ClickUp’s Senior Content Manager and professional beach bum. She spends her days creating emails, blogs, landing pages, and more to help people increase their productivity so they can save one day every week to do more of what they love.