Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Cycle time and Delivery frequency

Delivery Frequency

Delivery Frequency is the count of the number of times we ship the product out of the team to a receiving organisation. That could be a test group or a "friendly" customer or another interested stakeholder.

Generally we favour higher delivery frequencies. The optimum number depends on our delivery infrastructure. This can vary greatly across products. But at a guideline, we are looking to ship more than once per day. On products with long build and test cycles, this can be a challenge. Why this is important:

  1. It's easier to integrate smaller changes, more frequently.
  2. We get earlier regression feedback on our changes.
  3. It can help reduce "traffic jams" at the end of sprint.

Cycle Time

Cycle time is defined as the length of time a story is actually being worked on. The clock starts once the story leaves status "open" and it stops once the story is marked "closed". Usually this is when the story is delivered out of the team. Why lower cycle time is important:

  1. We get an earlier demo to the product owner.
  2. Better chance of delivering something in the sprint.
  3. There is the possibility of more agility from the team. We can change new work planned before the stories are started.
  4. Small stories are easier to implement, are easier to integrate into the system and they are easier to regression test.

Relationship of Cycle time to Delivery Frequency

There is a coupling of Cycle Time to Delivery Frequency that is interesting, and observing the trends in both can be indicators on how the team is performing.

Cycle TimeDelivery FrequencyWhat it means
Low or trending downHigh or trending upTeam is heading towards high performing
Low or trending downLow or trending downTeam not delivering despite closing stories. Need to investigate why?
High or trending upHigh or trending upTeam is frequently delivering "undone" work - need to investigate why? Are stories correctly split?
High or trending upLow or trending downTeam might be struggling. We need to engage the team to discover the difficulties and challenges they are facing.

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