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Metrics for Agile Projects - Finding the Right Tools for the Job

A deeper understanding of the variety of metrics for agile will enable PMs to determine how and when to use them most effectively to communicate progress to project stakeholders.

Agile project managers have a wide range of metrics to choose from when it comes to tracking the progress of Agile projects.

By understanding the variety of metrics, Agile project managers can determine how and when to use them most effectively — in order to perform one of the key functions of Agile: communicating progress to the customer. The Agile project manager is responsible for the overall delivery of the project’s objectives and does this by keeping the team focused, encouraging teamwork and individual productivity, ensuring that the team has the resources required to be successful and managing the customer relationship as the product is built.

Many of the familiar metrics such as Gantt chart and WBS are no longer applicable, given that Agile project managers are not developing long-term, multi-month project plans with predictions that reach far into the future. Agile project managers therefore need to use other metrics, such as burndown charts, to understand where their projects stand.

Agile project managers also need to expand the use of the metrics at their disposal to fine-tune the progress they are showing on their projects. Best practices for progress reporting include a detailed examination of how and when to use the methods available, daily meetings, iteration delta tables, release and iteration burn-down charts, progress reports, running tested features (RTFs) and earned value management (EVM).

Rather than being focused on updating Gantt charts or keeping the project dashboard current, an Agile project manager is kept free to focus on the performance of the team at the highest level of productivity and collaboration, as well as on isolating the team from distractions, barriers and digressions that could harm their concentration.

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