Units of velocity And Cost Estimation

VelocityYesterday, I was dragged into a departmental session by a couple of programme managers. Session was titled “Units Of Velocity And Cost”.

First question, I asked myself even before I joined the session was do the people conducting this particular session understand meaning of Velocity? Unfortunately, most people coming from waterfall, PMP and other such backgrounds, scanty understand anything about velocity or relative estimation or burn down charts. They just learn the terms and apply the same old practices that they applied a decade ago.

Problem being addressed:

What was the problem at hand?

As per the program managers, problem was:

When they start analysing any requirement, they carry out feasibility study and at that point give initial estimate in terms of number of sprints. For example requirement X would take 10 sprint to complete. However, by the time they finished development of the requirement, it could take 20 sprints or 30 sprints. This was a problem for the programme managers.

Why? because business was demanding a release plan. And with their initial estimates, they cannot promise or commit on a release plan.Sprint

Solution, as per the managers was – we need better estimates or better units of estimates. So
suggestion was this:

1 Sprint = 3 weeks sprint (15 days) x (eight number of people x 8 hours every day)

1 Sprint = 1152 hours minus planning, grooming, stand up, defect fixing, support etc. time

that is

1 Sprint = Approx 900 hours per team

Hence, feature x will take 10 Sprints = (10 sprints x 1000 hours per sprint )

And hence, if we add 2 teams, we can develop the same feature in 5 Sprints.

Sound logic 🙂

Irony is people with little knowledge of how to achieve results are most of the times the ones taking decision.

How fast can we go?To help such people, let’s look at some basics and easy example. For example, let’s assume you own a Formula 1 team. And you are going to participate in a race. As you are the teams manager, what would be the question of interest for you? Would you ask if your car takes x minutes per lap and race takes 50 laps to finish, how long before your car finishes the race? Or You want to know average time your car takes x finish a lap, so based on that you want prepare a project plan and predict that your team would be 3rd? Or if you want to warn your team that if they fail to come third they will loose jobs? Or if you want to ask your team if you add 2 cars, would your team complete the race in half time?

Well if you have a boss, who just wants to see your presentation on how your team is performing, I am sure you will ask these questions. However, if you want your car team to win, come first or within top 3 what will you ask?

Question to ask:

a. How fast can my car complete a lap?

b. What can we do to complete each consecutive lap faster than before?

c. What things should we improve so that car can improve velocity every lap?

d. What team needs to achieve this performance?

e. How can management help to achieve this performance?

f. Can we repeat this performance again and again?

Don’t you think these are more appropriate questions then just hoping that you would finish your race, by looking at the average time?

So that brings me back to the basic question What is Velocity? To be continued in next post.

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