top of page

End of Velocity Madness


There were varying points of view concerning the utilization of story points and velocity. Each group can assign a different value to each story point based on their criteria. What I can say is, keep things the way they are if it serves you well. However, if that doesn't work, then it is wise to examine alternatives.

The term "velocity" is used to describe the amount of work that can be completed in each Sprint. Because of the cyclical nature of Agile development, calibration tools are extensively used to help development teams establish precise and effective timetables. The questions for everyone are: Is it still advantageous to continue using misused metrics such as velocity and burndown charts? What would the impact be on your scrum team if you stopped using story points?

Some agile practitioners are disputing whether story points and velocity ought to be employed in the process of estimating and measuring progress. These metrics are rarely used effectively, and there is a common root cause that contributes to the widespread misuse that occurs. Lucky for us, speakers; Hector Gutierrez, Michele Pesca, and Armando Calderon, shared a fruitful conversation with us where we had breakout sessions and discourse on this hotly debated subject.

“What is your view on ceasing the use of story points and metrics such as velocity and burndown charts?”

The opinions of the attendees were discussed, as well as whether they would support the use of story points, velocity, and burndown charts.

One of the participants in the decision to stop utilizing story points and metrics such as velocity and burndown charts said, “Story points are more work.”

I agree. Regardless of the amount, intricacy, or duration required to accomplish the activity, assessing effort within the scope of the work item is the same. The time it takes to do your work, on the other hand, is mostly determined by how efficient your system is. Your efforts will not considerably reduce the delivery time. Even if your team has a lot of expertise and the necessary skills to grasp what is required to handle a certain challenge and forecast the effort required to finish it, you can't trust their estimation to correctly determine the scope of your sprint. This is because time is simply one issue to consider. Because effort time does not always transfer into delivery time, estimating your task in story points is pointless.

Another thing is, story point estimates are also susceptible to manipulation, which is a major flaw. Managers frequently misapply story point estimates, to the point where even the method's creator calls it "a weak idea" to employ for estimating delivery timelines. Story points can be abused, as Joshua Kerievsky describes in depth in his article on the topic. He uses this instance to illustrate how story points can be exaggerated beyond all reason.

“One day in 2004 Jim exhorted the team to go faster. This team had an average velocity of around 52 points per iteration. Their velocity would fluctuate by a few points but generally remained steady. Yet just weeks after Jim asked the team to "sprint", the team's velocity jumped up into the high 80s! I asked someone what happened. She looked at me funny and said, "These days around here if you sneeze, you get a story point." I shook my head, amazed at how a mature agile team, a team that had been assessed, trained, and coached by two excellent Industrial Logic coaches, and myself could so suddenly inflate their story point estimates to appear like they were going faster. My confidence in story points and velocity calculations began to erode after that experience.”

One of the attendees who supports the use of story points and velocity said. “Managing expectations on when a feature is going to be completed. I think that's the value that story points and velocity bring to me.”

Quicker estimating is one of the many advantages of employing story points. User story points are a handy way to assess the amount of work required to complete each item on your backlog and how much progress can be made during a sprint or release.

Key topics:

  • What insights do these metrics give you?

  • Burndown Charts

  • The Genesis of Story Points

  • What can you do in place of using story points?

  • How to utilize WIP?


1 Comment

Feb 07, 2023
bottom of page