International Kanban Master Foundation

Steen Lerche-Jensen

3. Kanban Metrics

Establishing a stable workflow is the key to building successful and productive teams. A stable workflow helps your organization deliver faster to market and brings greater value to your customers and organization.

How can you measure the success rate of your workflow and improve it?

Many good metrics can help you. Here are some of the most used.

3.1. Lead Time and Cycle Time

Lead time and Cycle time are two of the most important and useful Kanban metrics. They can help you understand how long work items spend in your workflow until they are completed. Lead time is the total amount of time a task spends from order to delivery in your system. Cycle time is the amount of time you spend actively working on it.

People, often confuse these two, but there is a clear difference.

Basically, lead time starts from the moment a new task is requested and ends when it is done. On the other hand, cycle begins when someone actually starts working on a given assignment. In other words, cycle time starts from the commitment point.

Both metrics are very important, because they can show you how long it takes for work to flow through your value stream.

Lead time:

Lead time is the period between a new task’s appearance in your workflow and its final departure from the system

Kanban Method

Cycle time:

Cycle time begins at the moment when the new arrival enters “in progress” stage and somebody is actually working on it.

Kanban Method

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