One of the fallacies of relatively inexperienced Agile organisations is the idea that you can ‘raise’ velocity.
That is, they often believe that, if a team’s velocity is currently 25 story points per release, you can sensibly tell them to raise it to 30.
But velocity is not like that – it’s an empirical metric showing what the team has historically achieved, not a control over what they could achieve in future. It is a speedometer, not an accelerator pedal.
Of course, it is possible to increase a team’s velocity. It’s just a question of understanding & managing the factors that affect velocity.
These are some of the key factors:
- The team:
- Team motivation & relationships.
- Individual skill, knowledge & experience.
- Product Owner support.
- Accelerators such as collocation, communications technologies, resources & facilities.
- Technology & other systems:
- Quality of tools and the effectiveness with which they are integrated and used.
- Availability and quality of development & test environments.
- The rapid elimination of technical obstacles & impediments.
- The business:
- The team’s familiarity with the business/ functional & technical environment.
- User expertise, authority & availability.
- The ready availability of other SMEs and authorities.
- The organisation:
- Agile-friendly policies & processes.
- A highly collaborative Extended Team.
- Agile-friendly organisations (PMO, finance, etc.).
- Overall responsiveness to Agile organisation & culture.
If you want to increase a team’s velocity, make sure that some or all of these are made better. Broadly speaking that means that the team’s relationships with all these areas need to be:
- Mutually supportive.
- High performing.