There is increasing pressure and demand for IT administrators to bring software to market quickly and cost-effectively. To achieve that goal, IT departments frequently compile various metrics that measure specific development processes.
Data and metrics are important tools, but administrators sometimes don’t think to look at projects through a wider lens—by measuring total production workflows. This can curb production and adversely affect business outcomes as inefficiencies go undetected across the value stream.
Let’s talk about the different kinds of flow metrics, why they matter and how to begin measuring them.
Flow Metrics: What do They Mean?
Flow metrics indicate the rate of value delivery with regard to desired business outcomes. This allows organizations visibility into production at a macro level so that they can make more effective decisions. Flow metrics can also produce an analysis of historical performance over time, which can be valuable for businesses that focus on continued growth.
IT leaders now widely use flow metric analysis to bridge the gap between business teams and technology, because it can uncover a variety of problems that affect critical objectives. For instance, teams can identify prioritization challenges, why projects take longer than expected, pinpoint technical debt and more.
When evaluating flow metrics, IT departments measure individual work units—also known as flow items—that clients or product teams hand over to their colleagues. This may be a request for a new software feature, a security flaw or something that needs a fix.
What Are the Different Kinds of Flow Metrics?
With a better understanding of flow metrics, we can now delve deeper into the five flow metrics that organizations should assess throughout the development process.
Throughput measures the rate at which total number of flow items are completed. By measuring this, throughput can determine the total amount of value attained and distributed during a specific project.
Throughput is generally measured week-over-week. Measuring and evaluating throughput on a historical basis also helps work out how clashes in priorities affect value overall.
Optimizing throughput results in greater end user experiences and customer satisfaction, which naturally drives revenue and growth.
2. Cycle Time
Cycle time is the speed at which an IT team can deliver value. This means timing how long it takes for flow items to progress from work start to work complete, taking into account active and wait times.
Cycle time is just as important as throughput when it comes to driving revenue and growth. Measuring cycle time can streamline the process of determining project estimates and allocating resources, resulting in stronger workflows and enhanced efficiency.
3. Flow Efficiency
Flow efficiency is the proportion of active time to wait time. Measuring flow efficiency uncovers where roadblocks are happening and whether process waste is rising or falling. The desired flow efficiency rate should be higher than 15%.
Most flow time comes from waiting, resulting in roadblocks and increased production costs. Measuring flow efficiency can enable teams to pinpoint when workflows are taking too much time, and they can then take active measures to accelerate individual processes.
4. Work in Progress
Work in progress involves measuring demand. Teams achieve this by measuring the amount of flow items either pending or in active development within a value stream. Measuring work in progress generally enables IT leaders to identify whether value streams are overused or underused.
Nobody’s perfect. That’s why leaders have to be conscious of how each employee’s time is being used. By doing so, they can systematically assign workloads and enhance quality where required. This, in turn, lowers burnout and turnover while also cutting down on mistakes that need to be reworked.
5. Work Profile
Measuring work profile is important when determining priority alignment. It’s analyzed as a ratio of the four other flow items completed in a specific time period.
Assessing work profile allows for optimal quality and productivity. This raises customer experience (CX), which results in better retention and reviews.
Why Should I Track Flow Metrics?
In the past, DevOps professionals largely went without the necessary tools for tracking and enhancing flow metrics, but recent improvements in tracking these metrics have made the process much more efficient and easy.
There are three key reasons for flow tracking:
1. Boost Communication
A lack of communication can be a common issue between business and software teams. Flow tracking enables IT administrators to delve into flow metrics and gain insight into the value stream. This helps teams provide accurate project estimates along with real-time updates, which makes communication with stakeholders much easier.
2. Determine Desired Business Outcomes
Having total visibility across a value stream helps IT and business leaders cooperate on identifying and prioritizing key projects and establishing goals.
Improving software quality could be a goal, for example. Teams can examine various flow metrics to determine what is causing issues in software quality, how to fix those issues and how prioritizing adjustments to software quality could affect other workflows.
3. Act on Intelligence
Software organizations spend a lot of time and money attempting to expedite software development. They hold meeting after meeting, hire consultants or even bring on new team members, but the solutions they need to streamline workflows can be simple. They just need to be discovered.
Organizations can gain total and real-time visibility into the value stream with flow tracking. This makes it quick and simple to act on intelligence and enhance development, leading to accurate, data-driven decisions that don’t require guessing.
Elevate Your Value Stream With Flow Metrics
Achieving optimal efficiency in workflows requires end-to-end visibility, which is made easy by analyzing flow metrics.
Using flow metrics to maximize the value stream improves visibility, accelerates development and cuts software production costs.