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Our endeavours, our projects, are important. They deliver significant outcomes that matter. They are measured on a number of parameters to identify the success of these outcomes and to illustrate the productivity of our projects.

Because our projects are important we expect success from them. Success needs to be measured and it also needs to be communicated. One method to communicate our measured emerging success on a project is by sharing information about our project velocity.

Velocity is a method for measurably demonstrating the rate at which a project develops software and delivers business value. It is calculated by deriving the number of user stories that the project delivers in each timebox (or sprint). It is measured over a number of timeboxes and provided as a range of values or an average across that number of timeboxes. So, if a project delivers 3 user stories in one timebox, 4 in another, 6 in another and 5 in another then we would say the velocity is from 3 to 6 across four timeboxes. Providing the average of the number of user stories across the number of timeboxes, in this instance by dividing 18 by 4 is a number than comes in for some criticism. The average value for a velocity is often challenged as individual sprints and user stories do not necessarily demand the same amount of effort. However, one of the targets of your project is to seek and deliver a sustainable repeatable velocity. This is a rate of delivery of added business value inside products that is regularly achievable by the team. To achieve this we must demonstrate this, to demonstrate this we must measure this, to measure this using the quantifier of velocity we must aim towards formalised sizes for user stories and for sprints. We talk about user stories and timebox planning elsewhere.

Measurements therefore are essential; so we will look at these too! We traditionally measure projects using three key indicators: cost, time and quality. We do this for very straightforward and patently understandable reasons.

We want to know have we delivered a quality product and have we delivered this inside the time and cost parameters we set. Let us look at the first and, for the purposes of the Toolkit, the most important of these.

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