agile metrics

Agile Metrics: What To Measure and Why They're Important

An introduction to Agile metrics

Agile metrics are an integral part of embedding the Agile framework for project management into your team’s work. While the Agile methodology is rooted in software development, it has now become a staple across IT, marketing departments, and creative agencies as a way to ramp up efficiency.

Scrum and Kanban — two of the most popular Agile frameworks — have revolutionized how businesses run their everyday operations.

Agile’s impact on a company’s bottom line is impressive: huge cost decreases, faster time to market, and better team chemistry.

To effectively apply Agile in your business, however, you must know how to measure success.

Agile metrics help you keep a realistic and data-based overview of progress to ensure higher productivity, better quality, and improved customer satisfaction for each of your company’s projects.

What are Agile metrics?

In a nutshell, Agile metrics are the standards that you set and use to measure your team's work. They can also be called Agile KPIs (key performance indicators). Agile metrics do not measure the amount of work or the actual tasks performed but how much you could impact the end user.

Agile metrics and measurements can cover different aspects, such as productivity, quality, and team health. This means you might encounter terms such as Agile productivity metrics, Agile quality metrics, and Agile team metrics, among others.

Agile was initially used in software development teams, so the metrics mainly corresponded to the specifics of their work.

Today, the framework is applied to many types of businesses. Thus, the Agile metrics can be diverse, matching the various workflows yet following the same basic principles.

Agile project managers are typically responsible for establishing and tracking the metrics in conjunction with the project roadmap — which is agreed upon with the team and relevant stakeholders.

Why are Agile metrics important?

Agile metrics help leaders and project managers direct teams toward continuous improvement based on real-life data from previous work cycles.

Continuous improvement of the team and their work is based on the personal motivation for self-improvement, which is then built upon with common improvement efforts.

Here are a few benefits of tracking Agile metrics:

  • Get a realistic snapshot of work in progress and completed projects

  • Nurture self-management in team members

  • Foster continuous improvement for the team

  • Help teams focus their work on delivering value to end users

  • Speed up delivery time for products and projects

  • Promote openness, transparency, and creativity

The importance of Agile metrics is multifaceted.

They cover the actual performance of teams, but also dig deeper into the company environment, principles of management, as well as individual motivation and work habits.

Overall, Agile performance metrics help you and your team move away from micromanagement, doing work just for the sake of completing tasks, and the lack of focus in project development.

Instead, they promote a bold step towards increased and meaningful productivity, higher value for customers, and better team dynamics.

Accurate and effective measurement is also necessary for compiling Agile metrics for senior executives. This way, they can be kept up-to-date with the team and project progress. Agile metrics can be used to create reports for all relevant stakeholders.

The main types of Agile metrics and what makes them effective

Each methodology within the Agile framework typically adopts a different set of metrics for measuring quality and productivity. Some of the most common types include Kanban metrics, Scrum metrics, and Lean metrics, among others.


In Kanban, the cumulative flow is a central metric, as the methodology prioritizes a good workflow and solid organization.

The adaptive nature of Kanban allows teams to embrace change swiftly, making it particularly effective for environments where priorities shift frequently. By emphasizing continuous improvement and optimizing work processes based on real-time data, Kanban promotes efficiency and responsiveness within teams.


In Scrum, team velocity and the burndown chart are the most critical metrics since the focus is on the rapid and predictable delivery of products to end users.

Scrum's ceremonies, such as sprint planning, daily stand-ups, and sprint reviews, provide a framework for communication and continuous improvement. The clear roles of Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Development Team members contribute to accountability and effective decision-making.

By embracing regular inspection and adaptation, Scrum empowers teams to respond to changing requirements, deliver value incrementally, and cultivate a culture of continuous learning.


Lean principles, rooted in Toyota's manufacturing system, extend their effectiveness to Agile methodologies by emphasizing the elimination of waste and the continuous pursuit of value.

The principles of Lean, such as Just-In-Time delivery and continuous improvement, align with Agile's core values, fostering a culture of efficiency, adaptability, and value creation. Agile teams optimize their workflows through Lean thinking, reduce lead times, and enhance overall productivity by eliminating non-value-adding activities and processes.

When creating your Agile metrics dashboard, it is crucial to consider each measurement's efficiency and quality.

You need metrics that are important to your team members, specific, simple enough, and applicable to the project being developed.

Some of the principles worth following in setting the Agile metrics for your team include:

  • Each metric should be specific to the project and should give meaningful information to team members and project managers

  • Team members should understand the value of measuring each metric, so they can use them with a real purpose and apply them in their self-improvement efforts

  • Metrics should be considered in conjunction with one another, and not as standalone indicators

  • The measurement process should be followed by discussions and actual steps towards continuous improvement

This list is not exhaustive, but it should give you an idea of what to look for in a good Agile KPI.

The top 15 Agile metrics
that matter

So what are the most used and practical Agile project metrics? Here are the top 10 measurements to boost your efforts.

  1. Sprint burndown

    The Sprint burndown chart is a visual way to track the progress made on tasks during a Sprint. It shows the amount of work that your team has burned through from the predefined set of goals for that Sprint. The X-axis indicates time, while the Y-axis illustrates the remaining work. With the Sprint burndown report, you can get a clear overview of the rate and amount of progress made at any given point during the Sprint. As a project manager, this gives you key information about time needed for completion of the agreed workload.

  2. Velocity

    Velocity is a key Agile metric that measures how much work was completed by your team during a fixed period of time. Most often, this is one Sprint. The typical unit of measurement is story points completed. With every iteration, the accuracy of the predictions grows because they’re made on the basis of the past velocity. This metric is strictly team-specific and varies greatly depending on projects. It’s important to keep an eye on it, as it can show early signs of issues in your team.

  3. Cumulative flow diagram

    The purpose of the cumulative flow diagram (CFD) is to measure the current work in progress of your team. The number of work items is represented on the Y-axis, while the X-axis depicts time. There are different color bands, which signify the tasks in each stage, i.e. in backlog, in review, etc.

    The best case scenario is to have a smooth diagram from left to right. The CFD visualizes any bottlenecks in the process, which allows you to make adjustments and improve the workflow.

    For example, if there are too many items stacked in review like in Sprint 6 above, , you have to redirect resources to team members working on these tasks. This will give them a chance to catch up and stay on track, thus removing the bottleneck.

  4. Lead time

    Lead time covers all the different processes for delivering a product. It starts when a story enters the backlog (ex: when the client makes a request for a feature) and ends when it is completed in a Sprint and shipped to the client.

    In this sense, lead time is a measurement of the speed of your team’s value chain. It presents an evaluation of your Agile project management from start to finish. The shorter the lead time gets, the more efficient your processes have become.

  5. Cycle time

    Cycle time is a subset of the lead time, which is dedicated to a single item of work. It measures the time from when work on a story has started until it is completed. Thus, it tracks the progress of a task from the backlog through the current stage to final execution (done).

    Typically, the cycle time should be about half the time that you plan for a Sprint. You can easily identify productivity issues by checking this indicator. If the cycle time is longer than a Sprint, the team is not delivering on the work in the agreed upon timeline.

  6. Control chart

    Control charts complement the data you get from reviewing cycle times.

    Typically, the cycle time should be about half the time that you plan for a Sprint. You can easily identify productivity issues by checking this indicator. If the cycle time is longer than a Sprint, the team is not delivering on the work in the agreed upon timeline.

  7. Throughput

    Throughput is one of the most essential productivity metrics for your team. It measures how many items have been executed within a certain period of time, such as one Sprint. It gives you an overview of how many story points are processed within one iteration.

    Thus, you can understand the capacity for task completion on a certain project. Over time, you can see how throughput remains stable or changes, and adjust accordingly.

    By monitoring throughput, you can check how the workflow of your team affects the overall performance of your business.

  8. Escaped defects

    Defect metrics in Agile are important so that you have an indicator about the quality of released products.

    In the best case, there should be no “escaped defects.”

    Measuring the bugs that have been missed is essential for identifying pitfalls and improving your production process.

  9. Failed deployments

    Measuring failed deployments gives you an assessment of the reliability of your production process. It illuminates flaws in your development process, and can result in downtime for your team and the loss of customers.

    It gives you an idea how market-ready the product releases that your team is building are. Failed deployments also show you how stable your test and production environments are.

  10. Net Promoter Score

    The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is an essential indicator for the satisfaction of customers with your products. Typically it’s a scale of 0 to 10, and can be used in a variety of ways.

    The exact score signifies how likely a person is to recommend your work to peers and the public. You can use this metric to identify if there are issues with the content and delivery of your products, as the focus of Agile is on providing value to the end client.

    Many companies will send out a NPS survey after a sale, or while checking in on a project.

  11. Team satisfaction 

    This metric assesses the morale and satisfaction of the team members. It can be measured through regular surveys or feedback sessions. High team satisfaction often correlates with increased productivity and better quality of work.

  12. Product backlog health

    The health of the product backlog serves as a critical metric in Agile, reflecting the clarity, prioritization, and readiness of items awaiting implementation. An effectively managed backlog contains well-defined, prioritized, and estimated items, providing the team with a clear roadmap for upcoming Sprints. 

    A healthy backlog streamlines sprint planning, ensuring yourr team focuses on the most valuable tasks first. This metric helps teams maintain agility by constantly understanding what needs to be accomplished in the upcoming iterations.

  13. Release burndown

    Release burndown emerges as a valuable metric for tracking the overall progress of an Agile project leading up to a significant release. While sprint burndown focuses on individual Sprints, release burndown provides a broader perspective by monitoring the remaining work across all Sprints.

    This metric aids in understanding how the team is advancing toward significant milestones, enabling timely adjustments to the project plan and ensuring that the release stays on track.

  14. Defect density

    Defect density is a metric that delves into the quality of the software by measuring the number of defects found per size unit of the code, often expressed as defects per thousand lines of code.

    This metric sheds light on the testing processes' effectiveness and the codebase's overall robustness. Monitoring defect density helps teams identify areas for improvement, refine testing strategies, and enhance the overall quality of the delivered software.

  15. Value delivered

    The value delivered is a customer-centric metric, concentrating on the tangible business or customer value generated through the Agile process. It goes beyond completing tasks and features, measuring the impact of customer satisfaction improvements, revenue enhancements, or other business-specific value indicators. 

    This metric ensures that Agile teams remain aligned with overarching business goals, emphasizing the continuous delivery of value to stakeholders and end-users. Monitoring value delivered provides insights into the effectiveness of Agile practices in meeting business objectives.

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