What is Flow Efficiency?
Flow Efficiency analyses the flow of work throughout the end-to-end delivery life cycle, and reflects the proportion of time that a Ticket was actively being worked on. In other words, this metric represents the time a Ticket was actively being worked on as a percentage of the total Lead Time.
As such, Flow Efficiency is one of the most powerful metrics to help you improve the efficiency of your software delivery process.
Flow Efficiency enables teams to quickly pinpoint stages in the delivery process where excessive friction or “waste” exists. By reducing the process “waste” and time spent in a queueing state, teams can quickly and quite dramatically increase their time to market and throughput without the need to increase headcount.
Flow Time is one of five Flow metrics, which together provide high-level insights into your SDLC from ideation to deployment. The other four are:
- Flow Time
- Flow Velocity
- Flow Distribution
- Flow Load
The Flow Metrics are often used by early-stage Agile DevOps practitioners who want metrics that are easy to understand at all levels, while also being simple – yet effective – when optimised.
Flow Efficiency is very often used in conjunction with analysis of Cycle Time and Lead Time as organisations look to improve the overall effectiveness of their software delivery capability. Lead Time and Cycle Time are two of the ‘North Star’ Agile delivery metrics which track an organisation’s ability to deliver software early and often.
Lead Time refers to the overall time to deliver an increment of software from initial idea through to deployment to live – i.e. the complete end-to-end software delivery process. Whilst Cycle Time is a subset of the overall delivery time, typically measured as the time from development start to live (traditional Cycle Time) or from code commit to production (sometimes referred to as Code Cycle Time).
Key Use Cases
Analysis of Flow Efficiency is a basic first step for any delivery team looking to improve delivery efficiency and throughput.
So key uses cases are:
- Teams that are looking to increase speed to market and increase throughput or velocity.
- Teams looking to identify bottlenecks in the software delivery process, particularly as they grow in size and complexity.
- Often Flow Efficiency analysis is used when Cycle Time and Lead Time are being introduced as key overall software delivery efficiency metrics, as part of a broader move to more data-driven software delivery.
By increasing Flow Efficiency, you should expect to see the following outcomes:
- A reduction in time to market for new functionality (evidenced in Lead and Cycle time).
- An improvement in overall throughput (e.g. a Scrum team’s increased velocity).
- A reduction in resolution time for bugs.
- Increased morale in the team (process inefficiencies are detrimental to team morale).
- Stronger collaboration among team members.
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