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Plandek metric of the week: Sprint Target Completion

Plandek, April 1, 2021

Plandek Metric of the Week: Sprint Target Completion

Metric Definition

‘Scrum Teams’ and ‘Sprints’ are the basic building blocks of Scrum Agile software delivery.

If Scrum Teams consistently deliver their Sprint goals (a ‘Sprint’ typically involving a two-week increment of work) – Scrum Agile software delivery can become a very effective way of rapidly delivering quality software.

On the other hand, if Scrum teams fail to deliver their planned sprint goals, then it quickly becomes difficult to plan delivery outcomes across multiple teams and longer time periods. Scrum team predictability (often referred to as ‘dependability’) is therefore a critical success criteria in Agile software delivery.

As such Sprint Target Completion is a core Scrum Agile delivery metric as it is the basic measure of a Scrum Team’s ability to hit their (self-imposed) sprint goals – and hence their dependability. It not only reflects the team’s ability to execute against their goals, but also how well they plan their sprint. It is commonly viewed alongside the broader metric of Sprint Completion which is calculated as:

How to work out Sprint Completion

Sprint Target Completion is the more precise measure as it looks at the percentage of tickets completed within a sprint from the tickets that started the sprint (i.e. were targeted for completion at the beginning of the sprint).

High performing Scrum teams will consistently have Sprint Target Completion rates in excess of 85% to account for inevitable (and indeed encouraged) changes over the course of the sprint.

Example Sprint Target Completion summary chart – Plandek delivery dependability dashboard

Example Sprint Target Completion review chart – Plandek delivery dependability dashboard

As shown in the expanded view of Sprint Target Completion above, the measure allows Teams Leads to review sprint performance over time. And for each Sprint, the chart shows: of the tickets planned for delivery at the outset of the Sprint, those tickets successfully completed during the Sprint, those tickets left incomplete at Sprint end, and those tickets removed from the Sprint during the duration of the Sprint.

Related metrics

Sprint Target Completion is often used in conjunction with Sprint Work Added Completion (%) and Sprint Completion (%).

As the name suggests ‘Sprint Work Added Completion’ looks at the percentage completion of those tickets that were added during the sprint itself. Adding tickets after the Sprint has started is not ideal (and often results in poor/reduced Sprint Target Completion) but it is often inevitable. The key is to minimise the fluidity of scope. As such, Sprint Work Added Completion is an important additional metric to track how prevalent the practice is and to monitor the Scrum team’s ability to complete this additional work during the duration of the sprint.

Sprint Completion is the other Sprint metric often considered in conjunction with Sprint Target Completion. It is important as it shows the overall ability of the Scrum Team to hit their Sprint goals having taken into account work added after the Sprint has started.

Key use cases

Sprint Target Completion is a Scrum metric that becomes second-nature to high-performing Scrum teams. It should sit at the heart of team stand-ups, Sprint planning and Sprint retrospectives to constantly track and review the team’s ability to deliver their Sprint goals and hence to become a dependable Scrum Agile delivery capability.

Sprint Target Completion is also highly relevant when viewed at an aggregate level across multiple Scrum teams (or Release Trains); and when averaged over longer time periods (e.g. Programme Increments). At an aggregate level, Sprint Target Completion informs the delivery leadership team when they are required to make delivery commitments to the wider organisation and as a key input into programme planning and progress reporting.

Key uses cases of Sprint Target Completion are:

  1. Immature Scrum Teams starting out with a Scrum Agile methodology and looking for a core metric to track their growing effectiveness over time
  2. High-performing, mature Scrum Teams focused on consistently improving their delivery velocity and dependability
  3. Larger (e.g. Scaled Agile) delivery environments where individual Scrum teams need to work together to deliver a shared objective. This may involve many interdependencies between teams across multiple Sprints. Hence dependability of teams becomes critical to:
    • avoid delays and time wasted as one team waits for another team to complete its work
    • have any chance of delivering the overall delivery objective within the planned timeframe.

Expected outcomes

By increasing Sprint Target Completion to 90% or higher, delivery teams should expect to see the following outcomes:

  1. A clear improvement in Scrum teams’ ability to hit medium-term and longer term delivery goals (and hence happier internal customers)
  2. A gradual increase in velocity and throughput as the dependability of the team starts to pay dividends and teams have the confidence to set slightly larger sprint goals
  3. Increased morale within the team (as process inefficiencies and sprint failures are detrimental to team morale)
  4. Stronger collaboration between teams and increased awareness of the delivery objectives of the team and internal customer needs.

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