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Removing Agile Team Capacity And Velocity Confusion

A long time ago, we introduced a Velocity feature to ProjectCards. We got it wrong.  And since we figured a lot of other people get it wrong, here’s a small article on how to handle your teams’ capacity and your teams’ velocity. This is our mea culpa.

First let’s define velocity. Your team’s velocity is, at the simplest, the rate at which the team has delivered product backlog items in past iterations. This is thus tangible, historical data.

Your team’s future capacity however, is uncertain. People get sick. New people get inserted into your team or leave it and it disrupts your team’s cohesiveness.  Your team’s capacity for a given future sprint can only be speculated.

A common mistake and one we made ourselves is to mix capacity and velocity. How often have we heard “What is our teams velocity for this sprint ?”. This is wrong. Our velocity is established by our past actions.

When doing your sprint planning for the upcoming iteration, we should focus on capacity. What is our capacity to deliver this sprint ? Is anybody taking days off ? Is anybody joining or leaving the team ? Is anybody on vacation ? After these questions are answered, you can then use the velocity as one of the many parameters to ESTIMATE your capacity to deliver for the next sprint. Remember that this will only be an estimate.

With that in mind, as of release 2.4.0 we will be introducing a capacity feature. This way, you will be able to manually set your team’s predicted capacity based on your estimates. You will also be able to enter a comment every time you change your team’s predicted capacity. This way, you can track fluctuations in you capacity to deliver based on facts( sickness, vacations, arrivals and departures). Your capacity change history will be available all the time.

-Nicholas Lemay

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One Response to Removing Agile Team Capacity And Velocity Confusion

  1. Pingback: Releasing ProjectCards 2.4 ! | ProjectCards' blog

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