Individual Velocity in Scrum
Early on in my recent 3-month stint with a startup in New York, the product manager told me we needed to track individual velocities on the team. She said it was just for our own tracking purposes, but having been told before by the company president that he wanted to know which of the developers were slacking off, I knew why she was asking. Company politics are such a pain.
The short answer to a request for individual velocity tracking, in an Agile environment, is ‘no.’ This is actually a big no-no, for at least a couple of reasons.
First, story points (or whatever method is used to weigh effort on user stories) are not precise. A team might look at a story and call it a ‘5’ (using Fibonacci, considering ‘8’ the largest) when it turns out to be a ‘3.’ Another ‘5’ could turn out to be an ‘8’. In the first case, the developer could end up looking like a whiz. In the second, she would be a slacker.
Second, Agile is all about teamwork. The time rises or falls together. If one teammember is not carrying her weight, the team needs to deal with it. Perhaps she’s experiencing personal problems, such as a death in the family. Maybe she could benefit from some pair programming. Then again, maybe she is chronically ineffective, in which case it the situation will have to be escalated to management. That should always be a last resort.
The team velocity, not individual velocity, tells the real story.