Posted in Scrum Add-ons

Velocity Forecasting with Monte Carlo

Motivation

Communication with stakeholders and confidence in how we forecast was proving difficult

 

Research

I found this article on Scrum.org that introduced me to Monte Carlo forecasting.

https://www.scrum.org/resources/blog/monte-carlo-forecasting-scrum

Further research here and spreadsheet to use:

http://scrumage.com/blog/2015/09/agile-project-forecasting-the-monte-carlo-method/

 

Starting Point

The team that I trialed this with were previously using the method to take the average velocity of the last 3 sprints, catering for anticipated holidays.

 

Method

  • Take it to the team and talk through research
  • Input velocity data from previous sprints
  • Use the predictions it comes out with to change how we forecast our sprints
  • Use the calculations to have a strong goal (one that we could have a better confidence in our forecast) and a stretch goal which we would get to if we could
  • Take it to stakeholders and talk through the trial

 

Results

Communication on our forecasts within the team

  • It enabled conversation over the forecast velocity as we could adjust and see the simulation run rather than be presented with a single number
  • A forecast is as such, a forecast, and using this tool brought us back to metrics being a tool rather than a target number to hit
  • The use of strong goals and stretch goals helped focus on something more realistic to achieve and therefore built confidence within the team

Transparency with Stakeholders

  • As we’d had more conversations as a team we could justify our forecasts when asked and had more confidence
  • The use of strong and stretch goals also helped manage expectations with stakeholders

 

Extension to try

  • Planning for a goal first and then checking how that goal would look in the simulation and what our chances were of achieving the goal
  • Then we could adapt our approach to the goal if it seemed unlikely for us inside a sprint

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