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Working with cycle times and identifying bottlenecks in your process
Working with cycle times and identifying bottlenecks in your process

Keep work flowing quickly through the system.

Dovidas Baranauskas avatar
Written by Dovidas Baranauskas
Updated over a week ago

As mentioned in this article, working with team boards lets you easily overview ongoing work, see team capacity, and identify bottlenecks. Once your team is set up to work in a way that allows everyone to overview ongoing work, the next step is to start getting work done done. The way to get a lot of things done is to focus on the flow of work and finishing what’s already started rather than taking on new work.

Keep work flowing with cycle times

When working flow based, one of the key metrics to keep an eye is Time in column for cards as they travel through the columns of your board. This shows how long cards have been in their current stage. You can toggle this on by clicking on the eye icon.

If this number is high (compared to the norm and your estimated effort) it means that for some reason cards are stuck in a column longer than expected. These should be investigated to see if there is anything in the process that needs to be improved to reduce the time in column and keep work flowing. You might need to add one more column, break down tasks even further, enforce card limits or analyze if you have enough capacity in your team to perform certain work.

When a card is moved forward to the next column, the number is set to zero. It’s possible that a card has been in progress for a long time, even if the time in column does not show that. Therefore it might be a good idea to also show Time on board on cards, this will allow you to track the total time a card has been in progress.

Make sure your process is in control

Actively working with these metrics also comes with the benefit of being able to view the data in a retrospective. The Control chart allows you to see how your process and efficiency has changed over time. You can use it to analyze your team’s performance, measure how a process change has impacted your team’s productivity or to identify and solve bottlenecks as they occur.

You'll find the control chart by opening the View switcher and then click Dashboards view, select Add widget and choose Control chart.

The chart shows the time on board as elapsed days on the vertical axis and the dates on the horizontal axis. The red line tells you the rolling average and standard deviation for the completed cards to travel through the length of the board (i.e. time on board). Every blue dot represents a completed card. The image above shows that the average time for completing a card has steadily increased. When investigating the reasons for this you can hover the outliers to see exactly at what stage the process was slowing down. Once you have analyzed the causes you can act upon this information and prevent it from happening in the future.

Frequently keeping an eye on these two metrics will help you identify bottlenecks and solve them to keep work flowing. The control chart allows you to view the team’s performance in a retrospective and dig into the causes of bottlenecks to help you continuously improve your process.

Want to learn more?

Knowing about tracking bottlenecks and keeping work flowing, you might want to dig a little deeper into how to work with dependencies in Favro.

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