Turbocharge Your Scrum Team: 11 Effective Ways to Skyrocket Team Velocity


When an agile team is not performing and meeting its goals, it can have an impact on productivity and morale. One area that could be looked at for improving the performance of an agile team is it’s velocity and seeing if there is room for improvement. Improving a team’s velocity in Agile, particularly in the Scrum framework, involves several key strategies aimed at enhancing productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness. There could be many reasons why your team is struggling so it’s important to look at factors such as past performance, skill level and workload in trying to determine why your team may be having issues increasing their velocity.

Agile Method

If your team is struggling to improve its velocity, here are some steps you can take to improve your team’s velocity:

1. Defining Clear and Realistic Goals

Work with the team to set realistic and achievable goals for improving velocity. Avoid setting overly ambitious targets that may lead to burnout or compromise the quality of work. Instead, focus on gradual and sustainable improvements. Use past team performance as a baseline to set target goals. This will provide a framework for the team to measure their performance against. This may also be a great topic to include in the team’s retrospective to encourage the team to think and reflect on their individual and collective efforts to meet the goals that were set.

2. Understand the Concept of Velocity

It may be worth checking with the team to see if there is a consistent understanding of the concept of velocity before taking any specific actions. This will ensure that everyone has the same understanding. Velocity in Agile represents the amount of work a team can complete in a sprint. It’s typically measured in story points or another relative estimation unit like t-shirt sizes. Before you can improve velocity, ensure the team understands what velocity is and how it’s calculated. If estimating in story points, it may be helpful to help the team understand what a story point of effort would be in real-time (for example, 1 story point could be equal to 1 days’ worth of effort).

3. Review the Current Velocity

Start by analyzing the factors affecting your team’s velocity. You can start by reviewing past sprint performances, identify any bottlenecks, and assess the team’s capacity for delivering work. When trying to assess the team’s velocity, ask the team to indicate if there could be any specific causes for the velocity. For example, if the team had a low velocity in one sprint and a higher one in the subsequent sprint, the team may indicate that they had reduced capacity to planned leave/vacation time. Understanding the current state will help you identify areas for improvement and any gaps in resources or processes.

4. Optimize Sprint Planning

Invest time in thorough sprint planning sessions to ensure the team commits to a realistic amount of work for each sprint. Encourage the team to break down user stories into smaller, manageable tasks, and estimate them accurately. A tool such as planning poker could be used to help the team estimate effort in terms of story points. This could be done is a separate backlog refinement session prior to sprint planning. As an input into the sprint planning session, be aware of the capacity limits for the team. For example, is there any holidays or planned leave time occurring during the sprint that will affect the team’s velocity? Overcommitting can lead to burnout and decreased velocity. To help better organize sprint planning, consider using a tool such as Nimble Agile.

Sprint Planning

Sprint Planning in Nimble Agile

5. Focus on Continuous Improvement

Emphasize the importance of continuous improvement within the team. Regularly conduct retrospectives at the end of each sprint to reflect on what went well, what didn’t, and what could be improved. As mentioned earlier, the team could be asked to reflect on the set goals and progress towards the goals in a retrospective to see if there is incremental changes. Use insights from retrospectives to make iterative adjustments and enhancements to your processes. Experiment with different techniques and approaches to find what works best for your team.

6. Reduce Work in Progress (WIP)

Limiting the amount of work in progress can help improve focus and efficiency. Encourage the team to finish one task before starting another to minimize context switching and reduce the risk of unfinished work accumulating.  By focusing on completing one task before moving on to the next, the team can reduce multitasking, improve focus, and accelerate delivery.

7. Remove Obstacles and Impediments

Actively identify and remove any obstacles or blockers that may impede the team’s progress. This could involve addressing technical debt, resolving dependencies, providing necessary resources or tools, or facilitating collaboration with other teams or stakeholders. Work with stakeholders to ensure that team members are not distracted and can focus on the planned work during a sprint.

8. Encourage Collaboration and Communication

Foster a culture of collaboration and open communication within the team. Encourage team members to share knowledge, help each other, and communicate effectively to ensure everyone is aligned and working towards common goals. This can help the team be more productive and increase the team’s velocity.

9. Provide Training and Support

Invest in training and skill development opportunities for team members to enhance their capabilities and knowledge. This could include technical training, Agile workshops, or coaching sessions to improve Agile practices and methodologies. It is also good to invest in the professional development of team members by providing training, mentoring, and opportunities for skill enhancement. Ensuring that team members have the necessary knowledge and expertise to perform their roles effectively can lead to improved performance and velocity.

10. Leverage Automation and Tools

Identify opportunities to automate repetitive tasks or streamline workflows using tools and technology. Automation can help reduce manual effort, improve consistency, and free up time for more value-added activities.

11. Celebrate Achievements

Recognize and celebrate the team’s achievements and milestones to boost morale and motivation. Positive reinforcement can help foster a sense of accomplishment and encourage continued effort and improvement. By continuously learning and adapting, the team can improve its velocity over time.

Improving a team’s velocity is not an easy task. However, by implementing these strategies and fostering a culture of continuous improvement and collaboration, you can help your Agile team enhance its velocity and deliver greater value with each sprint. Remember that improving velocity is an iterative process that requires ongoing attention and adjustment over time. Improving a team’s velocity is a gradual process that requires patience, persistence, and collaboration. By implementing these strategies and fostering a culture of continuous improvement, you can help your team increase its productivity and deliver value more effectively in Agile.

Looking for a comprehensive solution to streamline your Agile processes and maximize team productivity? Consider adopting Nimble Agile, a dynamic approach that empowers teams to collaborate effectively, make data-driven decisions, and adapt to changing priorities seamlessly. With Nimble Agile, you can optimize your Agile workflows, enhance team communication, and achieve outstanding results with every sprint. Ready to take your Agile journey to the next level? Explore Nimble Agile today, sign up for a FREE Trial.

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Christina Sookram

Christina Sookram

With over 15 years of corporate experience as a project manager, Christina Sookram is an experienced project leader and educator. She has provided project leadership experience at some of Canada’s largest technology companies. A successful entrepreneur, Christina founded CNS Project Consulting Inc in 2020 to help clients in the IT, education and Web3 industries. Christina is also an instructor at Wilfrid Laurier University and OCAD University where she enjoys sharing her love of all things project management with students.

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