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How we measure output and productivity

 

… getting more stuff done

 

At Trade Me we want to measure the overall health of Tech (that’s our team of 125 designers, developers, testers, BAs, and Squad Masters) to identify trends and to know if we are getting better (or worse!). We know that when we measure something it is a strong way of saying “This matters” which is why we put a lot of effort into deciding which metrics to collect.

 

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Splitting a User Story along Acceptance Criteria

When breaking down a large user story to ensure it is sized appropriately, the default is to use Richard Lawrence’s excellent 9 Patterns for splitting a user story.

I also use an additional approach; in the first instance I look to see whether it can be split along its acceptance criteria. Every good user story should have acceptance criteria, and this approach ensures that not only do they exist, but they are also reviewed before we look to split.

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Acceptance Criteria and the Definition of Done

Recently some of the teams I’m coaching found it difficult to distinguish between acceptance criteria for user stories and the definition of done. Here’s my attempt to make the distinction clear: 

  • For a user story or feature to be “potentially shippable” it needs to meet the expectations of the Product Owner and be of the agreed quality.
  • The Product Owner’s expectations are phrased as acceptance test criteria. Acceptance test criteria are conditions of satisfaction specific for each individual user story. (For more on acceptance criteria read “On Acceptance Criteria”).
  • The user story’s (internal) quality is defined in the “Done” statement. The “Done” statement is applicable to all user stories in the project.

 

Here’s an example:

User Story:
“As a music lover I want to be able to pay for my album by VISA card”