Do we have any Industry standard for Productivity(story point per person day)?

Last post 04:38 pm May 20, 2019
by Timothy Baffa
6 replies
08:42 am May 16, 2019

Do we have any Industry standard for Productivity metric(story point per person day)?

10:14 pm May 16, 2019

Hi Vandana,

What are you looking to use this type of information for?

Since teams are self organized and have the authority and autonomy to best determine how to accomplish the work (prioritized by the Product Owner) there is no reason to attempt to calculate individual productivity using any quantitative data. However, teams that have established high degrees of trust with each other will have crucial conversations with each other in the event that a team member is not 'pulling their weight', so that they can work more efficiently together. 

I hope that this helps and am sure others on this forum will assist with more information.

10:17 pm May 16, 2019

Even if someone claimed to have such a thing, I wouldn't put much stock in it.

First, it would require a standard definition of what a "story point" is - even within the same organizations, teams may have different definitions, much less across multiple organizations. Story points are relative measures that each team can pick and refine as necessary to serve their needs for estimation.

Then, it would require some definition of "industry". In software, not all software is equal. Earlier studies around productivity have found differences in industry - teams building internal web applications tend to be more "productive" than teams building real-time or embedded systems. But productivity measures aren't a good job of delivering value - for example, the teams building embedded software for critical systems where failure could cost human lives are probably spending more time ensuring good test coverage and analysis than the teams building internal web applications.

Finally, it neglects every other form of estimation, ranging from estimating in hours, in function points, or even not estimating at all. With so many options open to teams and many uniquely calibrated to the team itself, it's getting harder to normalize.

06:27 am May 17, 2019

Thanks Todd Swift and Thomas Owens for sharing your thoughts.

08:56 am May 17, 2019

Do we have any Industry standard for Productivity metric(story point per person day)?

Can you explain why you are looking for a standard productivity metric? Is there a particular issue you are trying to address?

05:31 pm May 17, 2019

I actually cringed when I read the question.  Sorry but it is the truth.  I really like @Thomas' reply because it calls out so many of the shortcomings of "industry standards".  For example, in the "old days" people would try to judge developers based on number of lines of code per day.  I know a couple of developers that showed how that measure was total BS by putting each word of a code statement on a separate line. Most compilers/interpreters look for some type of indicator to find end of statements.  One statement in many languages could be written in 6+ lines if that is done. 

The same thing would happen with story points per person per day.  The teams could easily manipulate that by increasing all of their estimates.  I'm not saying that people would but it is entirely possible. This is also why I don't like companies that try to compare teams based on their agile metrics.  The whole premise of agile is that none of those kind of metrics make any kind of sense.  From the Agile Manifesto for Software Development principles:

Working software is the primary measure of progress.

Search the Scrum Guide for the term "velocity" and it is not mentioned at all.  So why are people always trying to measure success of a team/individual based on velocity?  And to make matters worse, there is not a single definition of velocity that is agreed upon by the "industry".  

Scrum and agile should not measure individual effort.  Teams are the entire focus.  Individual's contributions to the team's success is much more important than their individual efforts. If you try to use a metric as you suggest, how would you account for that senior level developer that spends more time reviewing code or mentoring junior levels to raise their skills? They will most likely "produce" less "story points" but does that make them less beneficial or important?

Measure value produced by a team not how many times a developers hits the keys on their keyboards.

04:38 pm May 20, 2019

Agile/Scrum metrics need to be focused on Outcomes and Impacts, not on outputs or activity.   

This is extremely critical to understand.   Instead of focusing on the efficiency or productivity of individuals/teams, start measuring the value you are delivering.