Strong Metrics to Easily Show that Your Agile Transformation Matters
Updated: Dec 13, 2022
The saying “If you can’t measure, you can’t manage” also applies to agile transformations.
When Julia stood in front of the management committee, she struggled to demonstrate the progress of the agile transformation. Confused by the fuzzy top-level indicators and unimpressed by the anecdotical operational metrics, the committee directed its attention to the one thing it understood well: the cost.
While it’s easy to measure something, measuring the right things is another story altogether.
If you don’t have the right performance metrics, you cannot demonstrate progress, invest your efforts where it matters, or even engage people, which might very well spell the end of your agile transformation. After all, with everything we’ve got to do, why would we spend money and energy on something we don’t even know the status of?
Finding the right performance indicators for an agile transformation is elusive. While it’s easy to measure something, measuring the right things is another story altogether.
Measuring too little
In one instance, the transformation team focused almost exclusively on the speed of delivery. And of course, it generated a host of negative side-effects—such as a decrease in quality—which the team was blind to because they were not measured.
Measuring too much
I still remember the gigantic dashboard where each of the twenty or so managers had his or her indicators arranged in a three-level hierarchy. The performance management model was a mathematical marvel. Too bad it was impossible to use; no one could keep track of the cause and effect between actions and metrics. It was particularly good at giving the impression of control, tough. The leaders pulled the plug when they realized it did not represent reality and it took each manager four hours a week to keep up to date.
Measuring the wrong things
One transformation team chose metrics that were comparatively easy to measure, like the maturity of agile teams based on how well they applied agile methods. Do they have a Scrum Master? Check. Are all their user stories in the tool? Check. And oh! surprise, while agile maturity increased, business-level metrics remained unchanged.
Four top-level agile transformation performance metrics
I’m going to share with you four top-level performance metrics and a few practices that help manage the performance of real agile transformations in complex organizations.
To identify our top-level metrics, let’s start from the desired outcomes.
To identify our top-level metrics, let’s start from the desired outcomes. What are we trying to achieve? How does it enable our vision? You’ll usually end up with variations of the following four agile transformation performance metrics.
That’s a no-brainer. “Customer” means anyone who benefits from your products and services. For a commercial company, it’s the customers. For a hospital, it’s the patients.