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Metric of the Week: Sprint Target Completion

Michael Wong, April 1, 2021

What is Sprint Target Completion?

Sprint Target Completion is a core Agile delivery metric: it is the basic measure of a team’s ability to hit their (self-imposed) Sprint goals, and hence a measure of their dependability.

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

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

As such, Sprint Target Completion 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:

sprint-target-completion-rate-formula

Formula for Sprint Target Completion Rate | Plandek

Sprint Target Completion is more precise. 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 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.

sprint-target-completion-rate-plandek-dashboard

Sprint Target Completion Rate (%) | Plandek Sprint Reliability 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 delivery 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 team to hit their Sprint goals, while also taking into account the amount of work added after the Sprint has started.

Key use cases

The metric Sprint Target Completion becomes second nature to high-performing Agile delivery 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 Agile delivery capability.

Sprint Target Completion is also highly relevant when viewed at an aggregate level across multiple teams (or Release Trains). This metric is also powerful 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.

The key uses cases of Sprint Target Completion are:

  1. Immature delivery teams who want to improve their Agile DevOps practice and are looking for a core metric to track their growing effectiveness over time.
  2. High-performing, mature Agile DevOps teams focused on consistently improving their delivery velocity and dependability.
  3. Larger (e.g. Scaled Agile) delivery environments where individual delivery teams need to work together to deliver a shared objective.

This last point may involve many interdependencies between teams across multiple Sprints. Hence dependability of teams becomes critical to:

  • Avoid delays as one team waits for another team to complete specific increments of work.
  • Have any chance of delivering the overall delivery objective within the planned time frame.

Expected outcomes

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

  1. More reliably hitting goals: both medium- and long-term.
  2. Happier internal customers: due to increased reliability in the delivery process.
  3. Increase in Velocity and Throughput: this occurs when the dependability of the team starts to pay dividends and teams have the confidence to set slightly larger Sprint goals.
  4. Increased morale within the team: as process inefficiencies and Sprint failures, which are detrimental to team morale, become less common.
  5. Stronger collaboration between teams: this is matched with increased awareness of internal customer needs.

About Plandek

Plandek is an intelligent analytics platform that helps software engineering teams deliver value faster and more predictably.

Celebrated by Gartner and Forrester as a ‘leading global vendor’, Plandek mines data from delivery teams’ toolsets and gives them the opportunity to optimise their delivery process using both intelligent insights and predictive analytics. 

Co-founded in 2017 by Dan Lee (founder of Globrix) and Charlie Ponsonby (founder of Simplifydigital), Plandek is based in London and currently services the UK, Europe, the Middle East and North America.

Find out more about Plandek here: The Plandek Difference.

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