Value as an Agile Metric
At Agile 2009 I attended Brandon Carlson’s talk entitled “Value or Velocity?“. Velocity is often thought of as a measure of speed or productivity, but if a team can deliver x story points’ worth of the wrong product, and another team can deliver the same number of story points’ worth of an amazing product that everyone wants, but the two teams are said to have been equally productive based solely on their Velocity numbers.
In other words, getting more done is meaningless unless you know you’re getting the right things done. To make sure you’re doing the right things, Brandon suggested assigning value points to epics.
The simplest method is Value Poker, kind of like Planning Poker. The Product Owner assigns a value to each epic relative to other epics in the sprint backlog, with the smallest amount of value being a “1”, just like the story that requires the smallest amount of effort is a “1” in Planning Poker.
Another, probably more accurate method is Attribute-Driven value assignment. In this case, all product owners and stakeholders meet and assign values to epics together. Each stakeholder will know the most about one or a small handful of attributes. Some possible attributes include: market differentiation, strategic alignment, usability, system stability, sales commitment. Draw up a chart with each attribute as a column, and each epic as a row. The stakeholders for each attribute assign a value of 0-3 in each row for how valuable the epic is for that attribute. Total up all the values for a row and then you have numbers you can sort on, and that can become your prioritized list,
To a stakeholder it is much more meaningful to hear “this month the team delivered 31 value points” as opposed to “this month the team delivered 31 story points”, because at the end of the day it’s delivered value that customers pay for, not complexity of stories.
By: Tefon Obchansky