7 Strategies to Improve Your Software Development Project Velocity by 25%

7 Strategies to Improve Your Software Development Project Velocity by 25%

By: Erik Birkfeld

December 18, 2020

Project velocity is a great barometer to assess your team’s progress on the deliverables. It usually involves counting the number of user stories that your team is able to do in a single sprint. As a team lead and project head, you always strive to improve the project velocity, i.e., the number of user stories per sprint.

A higher project velocity lets you perk up your team’s burndown rate. This, in turn, improves turnaround time and productivity. In short, you can cater to more clients in less time with a higher satisfaction rate.

This article will cover the seven strategies or measures that can help you to improve your project velocity by 25%.

1. Effectively Addressing Technical Debt

Technical debt accounts for all the code improvements you have to retrofit in the project. A project often accumulates more technical debt when a team is instructed to take the route that offers quicker turnaround instead of perfect code. In many cases, technical debt eats up a large chunk of your team’s sprint, resulting in slowed down project velocity.

If you want to notch up your project velocity, you need to adopt a proactive approach for addressing technical debts. You can do that by taking these measures.

Define and track technical debts across documentation, compliance, design, architecture, code, testing, and automation.

 

  • Prioritize debt tasks through an agile development approach.
  • Set code standards and constitute code reviews.
  • Put automated testing and code refactoring in place.
  • Streamline communication between managers and engineers.

2. Ensuring Technical Architecture Is Built Efficiently for Fast Feature Addition

Technical architecture is at the core of any software development project. However, it is mostly overlooked when teams are racing to deliver the deliverables. A not-so well-thought-out technical architecture may not hurt your progress or burndown rate in many cases. However, a poorly erected architecture comes back to bite bites when adding new features to the application/project.

When the technical architecture is poorly devised, it contributes to the growth of “cruft.” It is all those software constituents that make it hard for developers and engineers to understand it. This lack of understanding subsequently makes it harder for the developers’ team to modify it and accommodate new features.

If you don’t want to see your project velocity getting slowed down due to snail-pace onboarding of new features, you need to lay down the foundation (architecture) the right way. You need to run Architectural Impact Analysis (using RPA model) and Software Architecture Transformation to ensure it remains easy to understand and modify for the developers.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Strategically Replace Legacy Tech

If you want to experience a drastic improvement in your project velocity, you need to challenge the status quo. Case in point, you need to replace legacy technology that is currently at your team disposal. Legacy tech is slow, doesn’t have vendor assistance anymore, and often experience faults and issues that cause significant downtime. Also, the fresh developers you hire may not be able to deliver 100% on legacy tech.

However, the replacement of legacy tech should be strategic rather an impulsive. For instance, don’t replace every last bit of your legacy tech in one go. If you have coders who offer optimal productivity on legacy technology and their work integrates with the rest of the development work, keep it that way instead of pushing them towards modern tech.

Your objective to replace legacy tech should be the improvement of project velocity and not bringing in modern tech just for its sake.

4. Understand the Value of a PMO Practice within the Development Process

Project Management Office (PMO) has emerged as a game-changer for project-oriented organizations. Statistics suggest that organizations have rapidly incorporated PMOs in their environment in the last couple of years. It has also been studied that enterprises with proactive PMO get more projects to meet objectives and fewer to be termed as failures.

PMO can act as a third-party guide/regulator/supervisor for your development process. The core features of governance, transparency, reusability, delivery support, and traceability of a PMO can help you and your team execute more user stories successfully in a single sprint. Like replacing legacy tech, establishing PMO practice might also challenge the status quo of your development process.

5. Don’t Rush

Logically, it makes sense to rev up your development engine and get into the project while firing all cylinders for improving the project velocity. However, we also need to understand that software development is more like rallying than formula racing. Therefore, the analogy above doesn’t work within the domain of software development. Rushing with the development is not going to make your team faster or productive. Instead, it will only add more stress and eventually cause more distraction.

In short, rushing can prove to be counterproductive for your project velocity.

6. Be Willing to Get Rid of Poor Performers

If you are working with a PMO that eventually finds out that your project velocity suffers mainly due to underperforming human resources, you need to address this issue. Talk to developers you think are not performing up to snuff. If there is no valid reason for them to not deliver what is expected of them, you should ask how you can help them. If you notice no significant improvements despite the assistance, you can lay them off. Don’t compromise your project velocity due to a few people.

7. Continuous Deployments Creates Speed

After continuous integration and delivery, software development teams are moving towards continuous deployment. As a team lead or CTO striving to improve project velocity, you also need to adapt your operations to continuous deployment. In continuous deployment, a software release with a new code commit goes through the automated testing phase. If it passes that phase, it is automatically released into the production deployment zone.

Continuous deployment rules out the need for continuous delivery that helps you focus on the product. It also automates the repetitive tasks that cut down the turnaround time. A good continuous deployment regimen ensures frictionless deployment with no security issues. In short, it improves your rate of delivering user stories, which means better project velocity.

In Conclusion…

By taking care of these seven things in conjunction, you will eventually experience improved project velocity in your software development.

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