Lead time vs Cycle time

In terms of software development for Kanban, both the lead time and measuring cycle are very essential. However, most people are confused about their definitions. Sometimes, they are even mistaken on how to use them for process improvement. Using these two vital metrics interchangeably can lead to a serious problem such as failure to analyze the process as a whole.

What is lead time and cycle time in Kanban?

In cases that you don’t clearly understand the idea of the two and their relationship, it is necessary for you to have a basis or reference of knowledge for your benefit. Lead time and cycle time are used today for measuring the capacity of a project or process to be completed within a given period of time. Majority of project systems take advantage of the level of productivity that project managers can get out of.

What are the differences?

For those who get some confusion about the meaning of cycle and lead time, here’s what you have to understand. Cycle time is the process itself. It is the mechanical measurement of the entire process. Meanwhile, the lead time is dependent on the customer and to what they see.

The clock of the lead time starts to count the moment that a request is made and stops once the delivery is scheduled. On the other hand, cycle time begins to count once the work starts on the request made or when the request is now being processed. The cycle time will only stops by the time that the item is prepared for delivery.

Say for example, you are working in a maintenance team and you rely on time for measuring your production within the day. Let’s assume that it is a ticket system like Jira. The time that you will count is between the ticket was created and was live. The whole span of time between the two is the lead time. In some cases, lead time may be spent in 100 days without getting into account the number of hours that worked to fix any problem in the ticket system. Take note, lead time is not the effort but it is the time itself.

Cycle time is defined as the time from which you started the work of fixing the problem until reaching the ticket live. Don’t ever think that the cycle time is the effort exerted on the project. What is important for you to remember is that the lead time is longer than the cycle time. It cannot be shorter at any manner. Most commonly, the lead time always grow larger and longer.

If you are dealing with system development or any kind of project, you should learn how to effectively use these metrics to get the most out of them. By the time that you fully understand how they work, you are sure of managing every project at stake. It matters that you have complete comprehension of how these metrics are used in the field.

— Slimane Zouggari