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Velocity and Cycle Time: Can You Optimise Both?

Plandek, December 19, 2020

Is it possible to reduce Cycle Time while increasing your delivery velocity by 25%?

With the right tools and insights into your Cycle Time, velocity and workflow, yes! But you need the right tools to get there.

What is Cycle Time?

Cycle Time is a critical Agile software delivery metric. It tracks the time taken from work starting on an issue – like a Ticket or a Story – until it meets the definition of Done.

Cycle Time can also help you to identify bottlenecks in your software development process, which helps you increase velocity and throughput, and generally enables dev work to flow smoother and faster through the delivery process.Therefore, Cycle Time should be adopted as a key focus for delivery teams.

However, Cycle Time in Jira dashboards and other analytics tools doesn’t tell you the whole story.

Which tools enable you to locate and utilise end-to-end traceability?

In many teams, there is a lot of work that happens outside of Jira: for example, code reviews and deployment processes. Plandek – an intelligent software analytics tool – traces your work from idea to deployment, giving you vital information that enables you to optimise your end-to-end development process.

Plandek enables users with customisable Jira dashboards and Jira reports, combining data from Jira, Git, and CI/CD tools. This data is transformed into insights, and empowers development teams to closely analyse their own Cycle Time and understand where their development process is reducing their value. In short, Plandek mines data from the development toolset and immediately identifies opportunities to optimise regarding certain metrics – in this case, Cycle Time.

As you can see in the product example below, Plandek’s Cycle Time metric allows teams to understand the time spent in each stage of the development cycle. The flexible analytics capability and powerful filtering enable users to break data down by Status, Issue Type, Epic and many other standards and custom ticket fields.

The result is an in-depth but accessible graph where the required data is plotted over a specifically-chosen range of time.

Cycle Time | Plandek Dashboard

Improving your Velocity and Cycle Time.

Cycle Time | Plandek Dashboard

How do Plandek’s insights reduce Cycle Time and increase velocity?

Delivery Team Leads are finally given the visuals they need to accurately analyse their team’s Cycle Time. They can identify areas where time is being over-spent, and can use Plandek’s predictive analytics to locate areas where bottlenecks may appear.

Assuming the team’s workflow has been well-defined in Jira, it’s easy to see the proportion of time spent in ‘active’ Jira statuses versus ‘inactive’ Jira statuses within the total Cycle Time using Plandek. Often, Cycle Time can be significantly reduced simply by removing avoidable bottlenecks – no need to increase team resources or distract from your core delivery objectives.

Delivery metrics and engineering metrics that affect Cycle Time

Plandek’s Customer Success team and software delivery team work together to identify key delivery metrics and engineering metrics that have the biggest impact on reducing Cycle Time. The key to their investigation, however, is locating metrics that have little impact on software delivery quality or the demand for additional resource allocation.

In fact, our investigation shows three delivery and engineering metrics that could significantly shorten Cycle Times across almost all Scrum teams.  These delivery metrics are not available in standard Jira reporting or Jira dashboards but are available in Plandek’s customisable dashboards. These are:

  1. Flow Efficiency which looks at the proportion of time tickets spend in an ‘active’ versus ‘inactive’ status.
  2. Mean Time to Resolve Pull Requests in hours.
  3. First Time Pass Rate by percentage.

Using Cycle Time analysis to increase velocity by 25%

One of Plandek’s largest clients set an OKR to improve their organisation-wide Cycle Time. The organisation’s developer department – made up of 2,500 software engineers – used Plandek in each team’s daily standups and sprint retrospectives, all of them monitoring and optimising the three metrics listed above.

Using Plandek’s intelligent insights and predictive technology, this organisation could identify – and optimise – the delivery and engineering metrics that were having a direct impact Cycle Time across multiple teams. As a result, this organisation achieved a 25% improvement in Cycle Time over the following 6 months.

About Plandek

Plandek is an intelligent analytics platform that helps software engineering teams deliver value faster and more predictably.

Celebrated by Gartner and Forrester as a ‘leading global vendor’, Plandek mines data from delivery teams’ toolsets and gives them the opportunity to optimise their delivery process using both intelligent insights and predictive analytics. 

Co-founded in 2017 by Dan Lee (founder of Globrix) and Charlie Ponsonby (founder of Simplifydigital), Plandek is based in London and currently services the UK, Europe and North America.

Find out more about Plandek here: The Plandek Difference.

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