A look at Flow metrics

A look at Flow metrics

by Russ Wingfield

Welcome to the Flow-ly Trinity

I’ve spent much of the last week or so looking at some common metrics, and they all seem to focus around the Kanban & Lean principle of Flow. Lead Time, Cycle Time and Flow Efficiency are the key 3 (the Flow-ly Trinity!) that many of our users are coming back to. They are proving to be a great way to understand the effectiveness of a team and further insight can be gained when they are complemented by other metrics such as Throughput, Work in Progress and Cumulative Flow.

So, why is Flow so important in delivering software?

Well, software delivery can ultimately be viewed as a system. Generally, a system where changes move from an idea, through some in-progress statuses and out to production. The better changes move through this process normally means teams will see:

  • Increased quality;
  • Reduced time to value;
  • Potential higher throughput.
Even simple processes will benefit from understanding the key Flow metrics

I’ve seen the importance of flow from our users in a few different guises. First I spoke to a department leader who wanted to half their teams’ average cycle time over the course of this year and had an OKR written around it. Also, one of our largest clients have a major focus on lead time and recognise it as a key indicator of effective teams.

Most people will equate flow metrics to the use of Kanban over Scrum, and certainly, good teams who move away from Scrum do begin to focus on these metrics. However, what I particularly like about these measures is that they don’t care which Agile framework you are using and will give any team some great insight into how they can improve.

Stay tuned for more updates!

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