Velocity and Scrum Teams

What is Velocity?

Velocity in the context of Agile and Scrum is a metric used to measure the amount of work a Scrum team can complete during a sprint. It provides insights for the teams to helps in predicting how much work they can handle in future sprints. Velocity is expressed in the units of work chosen by the team, such as story points or tasks completed.

How it is used by Scrum Teams:

  1. Predictability: Velocity helps Scrum teams forecast how much work they can take into upcoming sprints. By calculating the average velocity over several past sprints, the team can forecast the number of user stories or tasks they can into next sprint in order to meet the sprint goal.
  2. Capacity Planning: Teams can use velocity to allocate the appropriate amount of work for each sprint, to help the teams create a sustainable pace of work.
  3. Identifying Bottlenecks: If a team’s velocity fluctuates significantly or drops consistently, it can indicate underlying issues or bottlenecks that need to be addressed.
  4. Continuous improvement: Velocity can be used as a metric to help identify if they are improving over time. Consistent improvements in velocity may indicate that the team is addressing blockers and becoming more self-managing

Benefits of Velocity:

  1. Forecasting: Velocity provides a basis for predicting the team’s futurework, helping the team with planning.
  2. Transparency: The metric is transparent and accessible to the entire Scrum team, enabling everyone to understand and contribute to the estimation process.
  3. Continuous Improvement: Tracking velocity allows teams to identify areas for improvement and implement changes over time.

Challenges with using Velocity:

Confusing Velocity for Value: Velocity does not represent value; a higher velocity doesn’t mean a higher business value.

Comparisons Between Teams: Using velocity to compare the performance of different teams can be misleading since each team may have a unique approach to estimating and executing work.

Focusing Solely on Velocity: Relying too heavily on velocity as the sole measure of success might lead teams to prioritize quantity over quality, potentially compromising the value delivered to customers.

Changing Team Dynamics: Velocity can be affected by factors such as team composition changes, new team members, or changes in team size.


We use the term ‘cockpit data’, the analogy is that in a commercial aeroplane, the pilot has access to a large amount of data. The data is available for the pilot to help them make decisions and course correct. As passengers, we do not need to see the data, all we are interested in is getting to our destination safely.

We need to make sure that our stakeholders understand what velocity is and how it is used by the team to make decisions and improve and not something to beat the teams with.

If management asks us to double our velocity, well, that is easy to do, we just multiple our current velocity by 2 and we are doneJ

A better conversation would be to share the list of blockers or issues that is impeding the team’s ability to do work with stakeholders and management and ask for them their support to remove those blockers.

It is important to note that while velocity is a valuable tool for Scrum teams, it should be used in conjunction with other metrics and considerations to get a comprehensive view of the team’s performance and progress. The focus should always be on delivering value to customers and continuously improving the team’s effectiveness and efficiency.