Agile Metrics: The Nelly Threat Level

Tuesday, January 20, 2009 – 4:06 AM

The threat level is...

I was in one of our team rooms the other day and found this written on one of the whiteboards “Nelly Threat Level: Orange”. What’s that all about?

Nelly is the team’s lead writer. Most people on p&p teams pitch in to write documentation but she’s the person who’s actually responsible for it overall. Towards the end of the project documentation (and finishing it) gets to be more and more important. Nelly and the team had been having some problems getting their documentation finished so decided to add a metric to track it. Ergo… “The Nelly Threat Level”. Each day at standup Nelly would tell the team where they were with documentation as it represented a good deal of the remaining work outstanding.

Agile teams tend to use Big Visible Charts to track problems and improve them, ultimately driving down project risk. Another example, your project is seeing more bugs than it should stick a graph of bug counts up on the wall. These metrics change over time as different things become impediments to the project. Maybe in an iteration or two the bug graph or Nelly Threat Level gets replaced by something else.

What’s your team’s equivalent of the “Nelly Threat Level” this iteration?