Measure Cycle Time, Not Velocity

I’m not a fan of measuring velocity. Velocity is a point-in-time measure of capacity. That means that when things change for the team or in the code, the velocity often changes. (See Velocity is Not Acceleration.)

Instead, I like to measure cycle time. Cycle time is the entire time it takes a team to finish something on their board.

Cycle time indicates how much the team collaborates together and how small the stories are. We want more collaboration and smaller stories in any agile approach. That’s why measuring cycle time creates a virtuous (positive) feedback loop.

Here’s how to measure cycle time: I like to use a value stream map to see the wait times and work times.
Note every time the work changes state: is it a work time (above the line) or a wait time (below the line)
Add all the work times together.
Add all the wait times together.
Cycle time is all the work time plus all the wait time.

Other content:
Map the Value Stream for a Collaborative Team
Map the Value Stream for a Team Where People Work as Individuals
Use Cycle Time to Estimate Story Duration

Author = Johanna (Rothman Consulting Group, Inc.)