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What is Development Velocity, and Why Should It Be Your Core Focus?

Posted on June 13, 2024

By Matt Harwick

July 23, 2024

Do you want your custom software development team to be more productive? Are you looking forward to working on multiple complex projects simultaneously to achieve more in less time? If yes, you need to focus on your team’s Development Velocity.

Software development is a field that demands speed and quality, and if you do not deliver that, your business growth will decline. Development velocity helps you unlock optimal performance by measuring how fast your developers can complete a project. It is calculated based on similar projects completed in the past and enables you to achieve predictability.

If you want to improve your business performance and enhance team efficiency, read on to learn more about development velocity.

What is Development Velocity?

Development velocity is generally the measure of how much work a development team can get done in a given timeframe. In Agile software development, it serves as a metric for estimating the amount of work a Scrum team can complete in a sprint. It helps teams identify how fast they can complete a project based on similar projects done in the past.

Development velocity factors in the speed, quality, and efficiency of a team’s coding, debugging, and overall delivery timeframe. It helps you determine if your business is going in the right direction, allows you to achieve predictability, and provides more practical and optimized timeframes for your future projects.

Key Benefits

Although its importance is quite evident by its definition, here are some reasons why development velocity should be your core focus in business development:

Illustration of a stair-step graph showing progression from 'Increased Productivity and Cost-efficiency' to 'Scalability' with intermediate steps labeled 'Faster Time To Market,' 'Constant Improvement,' 'Enhance Adaptability,' 'Better Collaboration,' and 'More Realistic Expectations.'.

1. Increased Productivity and Cost-Efficiency

A higher development velocity means better performance and reduced development time. It further maximizes the value generated from the resources, which indirectly helps in saving costs.

2. Faster Time To Market

The more the development velocity, the faster the delivery of features and updates. This gives the organizations a competitive edge in the market and increases business opportunities.

3. Constant Improvement

You’ll gain valuable insights regarding team performance and be able to identify the areas needing improvement in development processes. This leads to constant improvement in the efficiency and productivity of your team.

4. Enhanced Adaptability

The greater development velocity helps teams constructively respond to changing market trends, making adapting and focusing on ever-evolving clients’ needs easier.

5. Better Collaboration

Development teams tend to communicate better and collaborate, leading to higher innovation levels.

6. More Realistic Expectations

When you have the development velocity calculated, you can set reliable expectations in terms of your team’s capacity for delivering modules within the given time. This fosters trust and transparency within the team and keeps the expectations grounded.

7. Scalability

Development velocity enables companies to improve their development strategies more productively, ensuring business growth.

With all the mentioned reasons, the significance of development velocity is quite clear. You must count on this metric whether you do custom software development or develop off-the-shelf software.

Want to learn more? Book a meeting with us today!

Metrics & Methods for Calculation

Development velocity is measured by the number of modules a team completes in a given time frame. For Agile software development, it would be the sum of all story points at the end of the sprints. These effort points do not include any partially completed or incomplete work units.

The work units and timeframe are essential metrics in your calculation. You can measure the units of work in the following ways:

  • Engineering hours: The number of hours your team works daily during working days. This does not include weekends, holidays or overtime.
  • User stories: The general explanation of a feature from the end user’s perspective.
  • Story points: An estimate of the total effort needed to implement a product backlog item.

The time frame can be measured as follows:

  • Sprints: Specific to Agile software development methodology, it is a timeboxed period when a scrum team works to complete a certain task.
  • Iterations: A limited time period (say two weeks) when a scrum team demonstrates a working code to the customer. It is also a key practice in Agile methodology.
  • Week: Measure the units of work the team completes in a week.

Remember to be consistent in how you measure your team’s development velocity. Changing the metrics may lead to inaccurate calculations.

How to Increase Development Velocity

If your team’s development velocity is found to be less, you can apply the following approaches to enhance it and ensure business growth:

A circular flowchart with five stages: Enhance Developer Experience with Tools, Promote Experimentation, Get a Diverse But Balanced Team, Manage Technical Debt, and Coordinate Goals with Other Teams.

Enhance Developer Experience With Tools

Developers are the most important asset of a software company. If the developers do not get the right tools and a positive environment, they cannot focus on solving complex programming problems, leading to reduced productivity and velocity. So, provide your team with the right tools and an encouraging environment to increase the development velocity.

Promote Experimentation

You can never know what benefits you the most without experimenting, so let your developers experiment, fail, learn, and try again. Try to adopt a blameless approach where failures are perceived as improvement opportunities. To minimize the impacts of these failures, implement controlled releases, automated rollbacks, and feature flags.

Get a Diverse, But Balanced, Team

Try hiring a mixed team of senior, junior, and average developers to assign tasks regardless of complexity. A team with all seniors has too many strong opinions, a team with all juniors will lack experience, skillset, and problem-solving mindset, and a team with all average developers will get stuck on the tasks that require expertise. Hence, getting a diverse and balanced team for enhanced development velocity is better.

Manage Technical Debt

The increased technical debt contributes to reduced development velocity. The more the team takes shortcuts in development, the more time they spend fixing bugs and errors due to improper planning and documentation. If the quality is compromised, the higher development velocity is useless. Therefore, encourage the developers to ensure quality while developing a product.

Coordinate Goals With Other Teams

Ensure to align development goals with other teams within the organization to foster collaboration and reduce duplication of efforts. If the objectives are not coordinated, the teams may sync out and get stuck in a bottleneck, leading to delayed releases. Moreover, it enables faster decision-making and problem-solving, minimizing team conflicts and dependencies.

The Final Verdict

Development velocity measures the productivity of a team in a given time. It helps you achieve business growth, predictability, and innovation with team efficiency. Whether your team does custom software development to meet clients’ specific needs or focuses more on off-the-shelf software, you must measure and improve its development velocity. By implementing the approaches mentioned in this article, you can ensure business growth by doing more in less time. When applied to Agile software development, development velocity contributes to faster sprint releases, ensuring quality.

If you’re ready to see how focusing on development velocity can transform your operations and significantly boost your team’s productivity, don’t hesitate to reach out. At KDG, we specialize in enhancing software development practices to help you achieve top-tier performance and meet your business objectives efficiently. Our experienced team is committed to delivering tailored solutions that optimize your processes and empower your developers. Let us help you harness the full potential of your software development efforts. Contact KDG today, and let’s accelerate your path to innovation and market leadership together.

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Matt Harwick is the VP of Professional Services at KDG. Matt shares his passion for user experience with clients in manufacturing, consulting, healthcare, e-commerce, education, and more. Matt leads his team to find ways to build out seamless systems that help these businesses build on their strength.

Want to learn more? Book a meeting with us today!

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