Best Practices , Revenue Operations
March 02 | Blogs
How Sprint Predictability Improves Your Revenue Operations
Estimated read time 6 min

Want to improve your team productivity, employee wellbeing, and overall RevOps success? Implement the Agile method to gain the benefits of sprint predictability.

All software developers today are familiar with Agile methodology. They’re used to completing projects by breaking them down into smaller phases called sprints and cycling through the planning, execution, and testing steps for each phase. 

Revenue professionals, on the other hand, only have a high level understanding of sprints. As revenue operations systems and their implementation become more complicated, it’s worth considering applying the Agile methodology process to RevOps projects. 

Many software development teams prefer Agile because it enables productivity. The question is:  how does Agile achieve this?

Productivity is the direct result of increased predictability. Predictability creates an environment in which people can focus and not worry about things changing on them.  Ultimately, predictability is the key to productivity. 

The opposite of predictability is volatility. In a volatile environment, you’re constantly context switching. It’s hard to prepare ahead of time when you have to constantly brace for  changes, turbulence, or  having the rug pulled out from under you. 

When you have to be ready for anything, you can’t focus on just one thing. This has serious repercussions for the success of your employees and your organization.  

Anna Shvets

1. Admin productivity

Think about how your organization treats system admins. What kind of notice do they get to deal with issues? 

Whenever there’s a fire, you have to shift away from what you were doing to put it out right away. Maybe there’s a bug in Salesforce that’s affecting your sales reps’ ability to close opportunities. Or maybe they’re expected to drop everything, right now, to pull data for a board meeting.

While you can’t avoid  the volatility of reacting to urgent issues, it does divert admin attention and productivity. That’s why it’s important to for leaders to understand the impact it has on their admins and their long-term initiatives. 

2. Employee retention

Simply put, the impact of volatility on your admins is that you lose them. The lack of predictability at work is a big contributor to high turnover in admin roles. 

When admins are slammed by unpredictable requests, they can’t make progress on the things they’re supposed to be working on. Unfortunately, they also get in trouble for missing their project deadlines. 

It’s understandably frustrating to be bombarded with requests and demands from all angles and have your hard work go unappreciated. It’s no wonder that many admins who find themselves in that situation  leave an organization. That’s why ensuring sprint predictability is essential for retaining your employees. 

In RevOps, people are used to more volatility. There are frequent fires in revenue operations, especially when you’re first building out the revenue function at your company.

However,  as things mature, there should be fewer unpredictable events to deal with. In a mature organization, revenue operations should have  sprint predictability for their projects that’s comparable to that of  their engineering counterparts.

3. Improving the perception of Ops

Historically, the operations function hasn’t always been popular with the sales organization. Sales teams might think that Ops changes CRM functionality too much. Or that they don’t provide enough enablement for all of the revenue systems in place. 

There’s a stigma around revenue operations and technical operations. They aren’t seen as reliable partners because they miss deadlines, change things without advance notice, or simply say “no” to requests too often

Predictability can correct and repair this perception in your organization. When systems admins consistently deliver output every week, they’re consistently delivering value. Achieving a favorable view in the eyes of other revenue teams contributes to collaboration and project success. 

4. Organizational health

Admins are people too. They don’t like having to move from the extreme of putting in 12 hours one day putting out fires to having to twiddle their thumbs the next day when no tasks assigned.

In product development, we utilize a metric called sprint velocity which is the speed at which work is completed. In other words, how much work was completed in a sprint that typically runs for one to two weeks,

When you can create a steady pace for sprint velocity, you can predict the amount of work your teams can complete on a week to week basis. The byproduct of a predictable sprint velocity is a consistent and sustainable pace of output.

 This isn’t a new concept. We apply it to all parts of our lives, like in fitness or managing our mental health. A purely reactive environment is a stressful environment. By ensuring sprint predictability, you contribute positively to organizational health. 

Understanding your current sprint predictability

The first step to improving your sprint predictability is to understand how your RevOps technology teams are performing today. You can start by measuring their sprint completion rate (sometimes called the planned-to-done ratio). 

Sprint completion rate = number of tasks completed / number of tasks planned

If you planned for 10 tasks in your sprint and you complete 5 of those tasks, you have a 50% completion rate. To start, your baseline should typically be around 75%-80% completion (high-performing teams average 90% or better). 

Next, track the sprint completion rate for each sprint to determine how consistent your sprint completion is over time. 

If you consistently stay above 75% and bounce no more than 10%-15% sprint by sprint, you have healthy sprint predictability. If your results look like this, you have poor sprint predictability: 

  • Sprint 1: 80% completion
  • Sprint 2: 40% completion
  • Sprint 3: 100% completion 
  • Sprint 4: 20% completion 

Spiky patterns like this are indicative of issues in your sprint planning and delivery; further investigation is needed to understand the root causes contributing to this performance e.g. the team committed to too much work, an unexpected fire distracted everyone from the sprint, a key team member got sick, etc.


Your results are strictly diagnostic

As a revenue leader, you might look at erratic sprint completion rates and try to hold people accountable to being more consistent. That’s a management trap and a gross misapplication of this tool. Sprint predictability is a diagnostic metric, not a success metric. 

Conceptually, this is comparable to measuring your blood pressure at your doctor’s office. It’s simply one measure of health that may signal a need to make changes to your diet and exercise plan or that a prescription is needed. 

What you can’t do is tell the patient that they’re capped at a certain blood pressure from now on. In much the same way, sprint predictability is a measurement of overall team and process health. It diagnoses how much volatility there is in your organization. 

If the metric doesn’t show the numbers you want, that doesn’t mean you should assume your admin is at fault. Be empathetic and work with them to identify where the volatility is coming from and what you can do to help. You’ll see your team productivity, sprint predictability, employee wellbeing, and overall RevOps success improve.

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