A QUICK SUMMARY – FOR THE BUSY ONES
TABLE OF CONTENTS
On the way to “done”, there are many things to consider. After all, that’s what staying agile is all about: keeping things flexible enough to continuously improve the delivery process and taking decisive action when things call for adjustments, be it little or major.
It’s far from just pushing things to the finish line at all costs.
That’s when agile metrics come in. Through metrics, both we and our partners are able to see the bigger picture of the development process. They shine a light on the projects’ progress as we go along and let us identify what’s working and what needs further improvement.
There are some key pieces to this puzzle. Customer lead time – among some other agile metrics like velocity, sprint burndown, or cumulative flow diagram – is one of the most essential.
Customer lead time tracks each work item’s lifecycle: the amount of time from the moment it “starts” (enters the backlog) up to the moment it “finishes” (is released and ready to validate the outcomes).
You can probably see why it’s a crucial piece of information for everyone involved in a project: customer lead time basically measures the entire agile process. It can also be applied on a smaller scale, e.g. to track the implementation of a single feature, measure the length of code review, or even duration of a single task.
All that makes customer lead time a highly instrumental metric from a partner perspective, too (“customer” in the name is there for a reason, after all). This metric gives them more predictability in terms of estimating both the project time and budget and helps with planning team augmentation projects, which rely heavily on aligning augmented staff with internal teams and processes.
Putting it in a nutshell, measuring lead time gives us a piece of crucial data that we can use to make the development pipeline more efficient and more transparent.
Now that we’ve painted a pretty picture, it’s time to dive a little deeper and mess it up just a little a bit.
We wanted to collect all the necessary data so we could then work together with our partners to optimize customer lead time for every product we’re engaged in.
But collecting raw data is one thing – using it in the right way is a whole different story. In order to do that, we first needed to ask ourselves some questions about our development process, such as:
The last question is especially important. After all, making a process more efficient means making the work easier for the developers and designers. That’s exactly why we need to identify and deal with everything that stops them or slows them down.
The thing is, with time, teams can get used to even the most frustrating roadblocks, up to the point where they start to see them simply as part of the process. And when you want to reduce waste and allow developers and designers to be more flexible and creative, that’s not a particularly good thing – to put it mildly.
We’ve mentioned the role of customer lead time in building a transparent and predictable collaboration with our partners. We want to measure customer lead time on every project we’re currently working on and share that information openly in the future.
But when it comes to the product’s timeline, every potential partner may and probably will have different expectations. That’s only natural.
By measuring lead time, we aim to meet those expectations more effectively. With this data, we’re able to come up with more accurate estimates and meet the set deadlines more consistently and easily. We're not the biggest fans of estimates in the first place – but, love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re here to stay.
We also want to decrease our partners’ carrying costs and give them more flexibility during rapid shifts in development and optimizing lead time seems like the best way to achieve it.
We started with calculating lead time on internal projects: our own time tracking tool called Anthill and the development of Brainhub’s website.
In the process, we used a selection of Jira plugins, external tools, and GitHub projects. Read on to get the full, detailed list.
After a few months, once we were done with the calculations and took some steps towards optimizing lead time on both projects, we were able to identify practices that affect it, both in a good and bad way.
There are many useful tools you can use to measure customer lead time and start optimizing work on your projects.
We created a list of selected Jira plugins and external GitHub projects, along with prices and short descriptions, so you can choose for yourself.
You can download it anytime you like – just enter your email in the form below, and we'll send you a link right away.
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Software development enthusiast with 6 years of professional experience in the tech industry.
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