Velocity in Scrum – Definition and how you can calculate it

Photo of Sohrab Salimi
Sohrab Salimi

Reading time
3 Minutes

It's an essential little nugget in the agile world that helps forecast work output and improve team productivity. In this easy-to-follow guide, we're going to break down the concept of Scrum velocity and show you how to calculate it. We’ll clarify all the important details and measure its change.

Scrum Velocity: What Is It and Its Significance in Agile Development

In the Scrum framework, velocity is a key performance indicator that measures the amount of work a team can handle during a sprint. Not only does it gauge the team's speed, but it also offers a projection of their potential output.

Measuring Velocity: That’s how it works

Calculating the Scrum velocity of a development team is actually very easy. Everything you need to do as a Scrum Master is to:

Add the points of all user stories delivered by the development team at the end of the sprint!

Velocity in Scrum

Practical Illustration: How to Calculate a Team's Scrum Velocity

A development team commits to work on the following User Stories in the next sprint:

  • Story A: 3 Points
  • Story B: 5 Points
  • Story C: 8 Points
    The team completes the stories A and C in the sprint, but only manages to complete 80% of story B and thus can’t declare it “done”. Therefore, only the points of the stories A and C will be taken into account for the velocity of this sprint. This means that the velocity of the team for this sprint is 11.

Top 3 Tips for Calculating Scrum Velocity
The following three tips for calculating the velocity will be helpful for you and your team:

  1. Track velocity consistently throughout the sprint.
  2. Document the points of completed user stories on the Sprint Burndown or Sprint Burnup Chart.
  3. Ensure this chart remains visible to all Scrum team members at all times.

Evaluating Changes in Scrum Velocity Over Time

If you aim to analyse how velocity evolves over time to draw inferences and make predictions, create a diagram plotting the velocity against individual sprints. Although the team's velocity may initially fluctuate, you can expect a consistent increase with a well-functioning development team over the medium to long term.

What is the calculated Velocity good for?

These are the biggest benefits of velocity as a performance indicator in an agile context:

  • The performance of a development team can be measured.
  • The development of the team itself can be made visible and is thus a valuable feedback tool.
  • By looking at the regularly measured velocity a team knows whether changes in the work processes have helped or not. Thanks to the insights gained from a change in velocity, the development team can improve.
  • Velocity simplifies sprint planning by allowing you to predict how many user story points the development team can edit or deliver. The average of the last three to five sprint velocities should be used for sprint planning.
  • With well-established, stable development teams the velocity can be used for longer-term product development forecasts.

Avoid When Calculating Scrum Velocity

You and your team should always try to take the following points into account and thus avoid the three most common mistakes when calculating the velocity:

  • Never take into account the points of unfinished user stories or bug fixes!

  • Never calculate the velocity of individual team members – only do so for the whole team! Velocity is a team metric!

  • Never use the velocity for giving bonuses or other rewards to the team! This will lead to story point inflation as the team is likely to underestimate their user stories to achieve higher scores.

Do you need more infos about Scrum?

In our Agile Dictionary we have gathered the most important terms from the agile world of work and the Scrum Guide will give you a solid understanding of the entire Scrum framework, its advantages and possibilities. Any questions about Scrum? Contact us and we will see what we can do for you.

Scrum Master Training

Become a Certified Scrum Master with our Trainings

Which agile Role are you?

Find out about the right agile Journey for you!