Capacity for a DEV&QA team vs Velocity

Last post 09:47 pm September 9, 2021
by Daniel Wilhite
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04:05 pm September 9, 2021

Hello everyone,

I had a situation in one of my teams. The Team has 4.5 Developers and 2 QA. In the Capacity(total days worked in a Sprint), a QA is considered to do the same effort as a DEV resource for a task(User Story). The roles are different- DEV can do QA job, but QA can't do DEV job. So QA is just testing the output resulted from development.

In the Planning, when we calculate the capacity for the next Sprint, we calculate the total Man/Days for 4.5DEV + 2 QA and let's say it is 56 days per total.

In one Sprint, we have 4.5 Developers and 1 QA resource=> capacity 56 days => we take in Sprint 30 Story Points, 30 are completed

In the next Sprint we have 3.5 Developers and 2 QA resource => capacity 56 days => We take in Sprint 30 Story Points, 25 are completed.

The Product Owner comes and say that the Team was "lazy" because in the same number of days, they produced less than the sprint before. PO doesn't want to understand that QA cannot delivery, so we must adapt the Sprint "Velocity" based on how many DEV resources we have. Mention that the Team estimates in Story Points taking into consideration the complexity of the US.

DEV team proposed to calculate how many Story Points we will take in the next Sprint based on the how many DEV resources we have, but PO said that if this will happen, he will take out QA team and ask them to do anything else than testing, because they are not included in the capacity. How would you convince the PO that he is wrong? 

I've told to him that if he will do this, he will deliver to the customers a quantity of work. If he will have also QA, he will deliver to the customers a qualitative quantity of work, but he said "this are Agile philosophies and formulas", so he doesn't care about them.

Thanks a lot.

Madalina C.

05:22 pm September 9, 2021

How would you convince the PO that he is wrong? 

I'd wonder:

  • what value really means for this product, as opposed to the illusion of point productivity.
  • how the PO will empirically convince stakeholders that value is being optimised Sprint by Sprint, if the team doesn't have all the skills to produce Done finished work.
  • why he seems more interested in accountabilities he doesn't have -- like deciding who ought to be one of the Developers -- rather than in the Product Ownership accountabilities which are actually his.
09:47 pm September 9, 2021

Capacity for a DEV&QA team vs Velocity

That is the root of your problem.  Capacity and Velocity are not the same.  And as you indicate using story points to determine velocity makes it worse. 

Capacity is how much of something can fit into a defined space.  Velocity is how fast something can traverse a defined distance.  They are not the same.  Then add to this ill defined equation that you are measuring how fast you can traverse the space by adding up a bunch of numbers that are made up. You have just created metrics that mean nothing.

This PO seems to be more concerned that everyone is doing work for 8 hours a day than about the work that is being done to solve a problem needed by stakeholders. It also seems that the PO feels they can control the way that Developers work.  All anti-patterns for Scrum and agile in general.

But I can give you an argument to use against your PO.  

Ask the PO if 3 POs and 2 Devs can do the same work as 2 POs and 3 Devs.  They will argue that the skill sets are different between an PO and a Dev.  That is when your Devs and QA get the opportunity to explain how their jobs are different and why 5 people can accomplish things differently.