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Productivity Measurement with Two Critical Parameters: Cycle Time and Lead Time

Measuring productivity is crucial to understand how well a team is performing in meeting customer needs and reaching its targets. The team may be performing at its highest potential or it may be performing what can be considered as normal or it may be performing below its potential. In either case, you need to continuously monitor the productivity of the team, analyze and understand the dynamics behind it and take necessary actions.

In order to measure productivity, it is important to choose the right metrics and base your monitoring and analysis efforts on these metrics. In Agile framework, there are two critical parameters named as cycle time and lead time often used to measure productivity.

Cycle time is the time it takes for the team to start working on an issue and complete it. In other words, cycle time starts when an issue is moved to “In Progress status and ends when the issue is moved to “Done” status. A frequently asked question is “Does cycle time include wait time?” The answer is “Yes”. After the team starts working on an issue, they may be waiting for a configuration to be done, a problem to be solved, data to be created, someone in another team to collaborate, etc., in order to proceed with their work. Since this wait time is spent while the issue is in “In Progress“, it is included in the cycle time.

On the other hand, lead time is the time interval between the moment an issue is requested to the moment it is completed. In other words, lead time starts when an issue is added to the Backlog in “New“ status and ends when it is moved to “Done“ status. In real world, after an issue is requested it may be staying in Backlog for a while before the team picks it up and starts working on it. This may be due to several reasons. The team may not have capacity to start working on the new issue, the priorities of the business team may change, an impediment may occur preventing the execution of the issue etc. If you are asking if lead time includes this “waiting in the Backlog“ time, the answer is “Yes”.

Companies mostly aim to find ways to decrease cycle time & lead time and minimize the difference between the two. Now the next and more important question is “How can you measure cycle time and lead time effectively?” One option is to use JIRA’s built-in Control Chart feature.

The Control Chart shows the Cycle Time (or Lead Time) for your product, version, or sprint. It takes the time spent by each issue in a particular status (or statuses), and maps it over a specified period of time.

An alternative option is to use Status Time Reports developed by our team, Bloompeak, that provides comprehensive and more detailed reporting and analysis capabilities on measuring cycle time and lead time.

Status Time Reports app mainly provides reports and gadgets based on how much time passed in each status. It has a dynamic status grouping feature so that you can generate various valuable reports as the following:

  • time in status

  • time in assignee

  • cycle time

    • cycle time for each individual issue

    • average cycle time of all issues

    • cycle time by assignee or project and issue type or sprint or component or issue creation week/month

  • lead time

    • lead time for each individual issue

    • average lead time of all issues

    • lead time by assignee or project and issue type or sprint or component or issue creation week/month

Here is sample reports that you can use for measuring cycle time and lead time.

You can use either default 24/7 calendar or your working calendar (excluding non-working time). If you choose to use your working calendar, your working schedule will be taken into account. That is, lead time of an issue opened on Friday at 5 PM and closed on Monday at 9 AM will be reported as a few hours rather than 3 days.

If you continuously monitor lead time and cycle time and analyze the results, it provides you valuable insights on identifying bottlenecks in your product life cycle, understanding your improvement areas and increasing your team’s productivity.

We hope you find this article helpful in giving some insights on measuring cycle time and lead time. 

2 comments

Thank you for this information 

Bloompeak Support Marketplace Partner Jan 21, 2022

Hi @John Scott ,

The screenshot with error is not from our app Status Time Reports. It seems you installed some other app.

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