Team performance Metrics
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What is Development Velocity and How to Measure It?

What is Development Velocity and How to Measure It?

An efficient software development process requires speed and quality. To improve these and foster business growth, adopting innovative work processes and facilitating the development process is important. Development velocity is a crucial factor in achieving optimal team performance.  

What is Development Velocity?

The Concept of Velocity in Software Development

The term “development velocity” describes how quickly and effectively developers can write, edit, and deliver high-quality code. It depends on several elements, such as implementing best practices, utilizing automated tools and technology, fostering teamwork, and ongoing learning. High development velocity also means increased productivity, quicker features or bug-fix delivery, and a better software development process. 

Why Is Development Velocity Important?

Development velocity is essential for several reasons, including:

  • Scalability| With a high development velocity, teams can enhance their development efforts smoothly, fostering business growth.
  • Greater adaptability | With a higher development velocity, teams can adapt more quickly to changing market conditions or client requirements, making developing a product that integrates frequent feedback easier.
  • Improved collaboration | Working towards better development velocity promotes teamwork and communication, which raises innovation and creative problem-solving.
  • Cost efficiency | Increased productivity and reduced development time bring significant cost savings for organizations, allowing them to redirect resources to other essential aspects of the business.
  • Faster time-to-market | Software development teams can produce features and products faster due to higher development velocity, which gives businesses a competitive advantage in the market.
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Factors Affecting Development Velocity

Impact of Technical Debt on Development Velocity

With a growing codebase, the technical debt increases, making the smooth development process fall into interruptions. Developers find themselves caught in a web of puzzled code, spending a lot of time understanding undocumented logic, resolving code issues, and patching up prematurely implemented features. These deficiencies result in delayed project timelines, missed deadlines, and continuous frustration among development teams. Furthermore, when technical debt accumulates over time, development velocity decreases even further, making morale and productivity spiral downward.

Team Skills and Experience

For a team to fulfill commitments successfully, all necessary skill sets must be present. The team’s lack of the required expertise can cause delays and cause reliance on others. Furthermore, rotating the team members too often isn’t a good idea because this may affect velocity. This includes both changes within the company and talent leaving that company. Both reduce the historical knowledge of the project.

Work environment

Software development velocity management needs a systematic and proactive strategy. First, every project or sprint needs to have goals and priorities established. This keeps scope creep and pointless work controlled while guaranteeing that the team is concentrated on producing value. You can improve velocity and maintain team focus by regularly assessing and modifying priorities in response to feedback and changing requirements. 

Team dynamics

Effective communication and transparency are crucial. The team should regularly share progress, challenges, and achievements with stakeholders, fostering collaboration and assuring everyone focuses on the end goal. Accepting feedback and actively seeking ways to improve processes and remove obstacles can significantly enhance velocity. 

How do we measure Development Velocity correctly?

A straightforward way to calculate velocity is to count the number of story points completed over time (e.g., two weeks). So, if your team practice is two-week sprints and they completed 30 story points during the last sprint, their velocity was 30. You can roughly schedule 30 new story points for the next sprint.

After finishing the next sprint, you can compute the velocity again. It can change slightly, but after a few iterations, you’ll have an excellent idea of your average velocity. You can also use this average for capacity planning.

calculation of development velocity with the number of story points completed over several days

The Difference Between Velocity and Throughput (average number of work items processed per unit of time)

Velocity and throughput are similar, but they have some important differences. Velocity denotes the team’s capacity to finish tasks within a time frame, while throughput tracks the delivery of work items. Throughput is an external indicator that shows how well the team delivers value to the customer; velocity is an internal metric for planning and forecasting.

Another key difference between them is the units of measurement. Velocity is usually measured in user stories or story points completed in a sprint, while throughput is measured in terms of work items delivered to the customer or stakeholders. Velocity represents the team’s productivity, while throughput represents the team’s efficiency in delivering value. 

representation of velocity as a measure of development team productivity

Velocity represents the team’s productivity by comparing story points a team committed to for a sprint to items completed. 

Throughput graph in Axify for software development teams

Throughput represents the team’s efficiency by comparing the weekly items completed.

Best Practices to Enhance Development Velocity

To improve development velocity—you should adopt the best practices listed here.

Implementing Continuous Integration for Improved Velocity

You must allocate the same resources for development and deployment to deliver the best product faster. It makes no difference how quickly you develop a product if it takes weeks or months to deploy. 

One key software development demand is to deliver value to the end users, and DevOps plays a crucial role in achieving high development velocity. DevOps applies the CI/CD principle (continuous integration and continuous deployment) to build, test, and deploy code faster. It uses automation to make the development and deployment process smooth. The goal is to deliver a more reliable product faster to the end users.

Here are a few CI/CD best practices to implement:

  • Deploy code more frequently in smaller chunks. 
  • Automate the unit testing procedure. 
  • Prioritize fixing bugs and broken builds.
  • To avoid merge problems—use trunk-based development (source-control development model where developers collaborate on a single branch called trunk).
  • Rely heavily on automation. 

Addressing Bottlenecks in the Development Process 

Identifying the areas of your software development that are causing performance issues is essential. A tool like Axify can help discover these bottlenecks, as well as:

  • Code review: Regular code reviews can help uncover redundant or inefficient code that may be impairing performance.
  • Monitoring and logging: these two mechanisms let you track resource usage and identify potential areas for optimization.
  • Profiling tools: these tools allow you to analyze the runtime behaviour of your application and identify parts of the code that consume the most resources.

Lead time for changes (Dora metric) graph in Axify for software development teams

This graph easily shows which phase of the development cycle takes up the most time and which phase is taking longer than usual and might need more attention.

Inspect and follow Value Stream Mapping (VSM)

One of the fundamental concepts of the lean manufacturing approach is Value Stream Mapping, or VSM, which emphasizes the entire process from the supplier to the customer. It helps to analyze and control the flow of information and resources, spot waste, and determine which steps or items don’t add value from the consumer’s perspective. 

VSM presents the work process, and all types of activities involved. It also helps to visualize the process cycle time or how long one process takes for items to pass through it. Process time will automatically decrease after you locate the waste. As a result, the process will be optimized.

value stream mapping (vsm) in axify for software development teams

Build a Culture of Experimentation 

You should experiment to find out which approach works best for your team. Instead of monitoring your developers, promote a culture of experimentation. Motivate your developers to try new things, make mistakes, learn from them, and try again. Take the blameless approach and use the failure as a chance to grow rather than search for guilt. 

To avoid delays, minimize failures’ impact via controlled releases, automated rollbacks, and feature flagging. Conduct neutral and peaceful retrospectives to reflect on incidents by asking the “what,” “why,” and “how” questions. Remember that you can’t avoid failure, but there are tools to mitigate it.

Reduce Technical Debt

One factor that highly impacts development velocity is technical debt. Technical debt cannot be avoided in any growing system and grows faster when teams increase development velocity. It causes issues for the team later when they have to spend extra time and effort fixing bugs from the past because of poor planning and documentation. If the development team prioritizes velocity over quality, they will face increased technical debt over time. Fixing the same issue multiple times causes frustration and impacts team morale. 

The steps to reduce technical debt include:

  • Setting up and following good coding practices and standards.
  • Prioritizing code debt tasks instead of postponing. 
  • Defining failure and tracking it.
  • Conducting code refactoring—restructuring code without changing external behaviour.

Benefits of High Development Velocity

The benefits of a high development velocity are multifold, and we elaborate on them here.

Shorter Development Cycles

High development velocity usually leads to shorter development cycles. Cycle time measures how long it takes to deliver the job. In other words, cycle time is between a developer’s first commit and production release. Short cycle time means work goes from development, via testing, to deployment quickly. Longer time usually denotes a bottleneck you need to clear.

Faster Time-to-market

With high development velocity—productivity rises, and development time decreases. It also results in a shorter time to market and a quicker delivery process, both of which save costs. As a result, the team can transfer that value to other company areas and optimize the value gained from resources.

Improved Team morale and Productivity

Increased development velocity promotes employee retention and job satisfaction. Providing your staff with the tools and training required to become experts will keep them engaged and enthusiastic about their work. They can solve issues more quickly and provide better work. When developers can innovate and create outstanding things, they thrive. 

Bottom Line

Axify is a single platform to observe all the key performance indicators that will help you improve your development and delivery processes: 

Contact us for a demo to see how Axify can help you deliver faster with improved development velocity.