The term“ velocity ” is of English origin and translated into German means something like speed and is used in IT in various application areas. In addition to the Apache project (web server) and the VelocityTemplateLanguage (VTL), the term is used in particular in agile software development as part of various Scrum models. In the context of agile development, velocity is used to indicate when a software project is expected to be completed, what progress has already been made within the project, and what costs can be expected. The determination of these predictions is based on different procedures and parameters.
In the context of the Scrum model, velocity refers to “the average speed of a development team achieved in a marathon”. This velocity results from the completed user stories (user narratives). So-called “story points” are awarded for each completed user story. The speed is then calculated by the average number of completed user stories. The most effective and also the simplest calculation model is to add up the story points.
The counter term used in this context is “velocity offset”. This is calculated from the sum of the unfinished user stories. The so-called “velocity offset factor” is derived from this. This corresponds to the user stories that contribute to negatively influence the effectiveness of a Scrum team. Such user stories that cannot be completed in a timely manner are moved out to the next phase or pass. If it comes to planning the next phase, then the development team has to consider the unfinished user narratives along with the new user stories.
Importance of Velocity for Agile Development
In the context of agile development using Scrum, velocity can give an estimated time of completion for a software project. With the Velocity method, team leaders can see how many and which components have been completed at any given time. This basis also helps to better estimate the resulting costs.
There are basically two ways to determine velocity.
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- If the individual Scrum teams already have experience in working together, a relatively precise estimate can be made in advance.
- If it is the first cooperation of the Scrum teams, there is no historical data yet that could serve as a basis for the prediction, so that an estimation is not possible. In such cases, data from other, similarly composed teams can be used to create approximate forecasts.
Velocity offers both numerous advantages and some disadvantages in the context of agile software development, which we discuss below:
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