Using metrics in Software development projects helps in quantifying team performance thus helping in identifying issues and potential areas of improvement. Quantitative methods can also help the software project team use hard data to better plan for future projects and have a concise point of reference while making assumptions.
Some of the more useful metrics that can be captured center around how long it takes to complete items in the backlog. Measuring how long it takes depends on the chosen starting and ending point of measurement. For instance, is the starting point, when the item first entered the backlog? Or, is the starting point when the previous item was completed and work began on the current item?
The metrics used in Agile software development projects to quantify these questions are usually the Cycle Time and Lead Time.
This is the time between two successive deliverables. Let’s assume we have two stories in the backlog; Story A and Story B. Story A is completed on day 10 of the sprint. Story B is completed on day 12 of the sprint. 12 minus 10 is 2.
The Cycle Time is this 2 days. In other words, it took two days to cycle through the two stories in the backlog. If we have a list of similar stories to be implemented in the backlog, we can look at historical cycle times and have a quantifiable way of projecting what the work progress will look like.
Lead time is the duration between initiation and delivery. Let’s assume Story A entered the backlog 10 days ago. Work on Story A begins tomorrow and it takes two days to complete. The Lead Time is thus 10 plus 2 which is 12.
Measuring Cycle Time and Lead Time manually can be a tedious process depending on how many items are in the backlog and the team has worked on. Using project management collaboration software with measuring capabilities can help automate the process.