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What Are Key Metrics To Manage A Kanban Workflow?

You can only improve what you are focusing on. Key Kanban metrics you choose to assess the performance of your Kanban workflow are not an exception to this critical rule.

It is essential that you know the key Kanban metrics to manage your Kanban workflow. So you can enhance the business throughput and reduce the wastes of your Kanban team in this process.

Here are some key Kanban metrics you should be continuously monitoring as part of your initiative to improve your Kanban workflow:

  • Team Throughput: The number of Kanban cards the Kanban team delivers in their Kanban workflow in a given unit time interval.
  • Work In Progress (WIP): The number of Kanban cards in work in progress state at different stages of development and delivery process (Kanban workflow).
  • Lead Time: The amount of time a Kanban card spends in Kanban workflow from the moment business stakeholders request it until it is successfully delivered.
  • Cycle Time: The amount of time a Kanban card spends in Kanban workflow from the moment the Kanban team starts working on it until the Kanban team finishes its tasks for the given card.

Cycle Time, Work In Progress (WIP), Team Throughput are interrelated by Little's Law.

Little's Law states that:

Cycle Time = Work In Progress (WIP) / Team Throughput

Little's Law guides us to properly administer, set client expectations, and continuously improve the Kanban workflow.

Little's Law shows the correlation between the three key Kanban workflow metrics. Changing one of these metrics will have an impact on the other two metrics.

For instance: To accomplish a reduction in cycle time, Work in Progress (WIP) must decrease, or the Team Throughput must increase.

  • Work Item Age:The amount of time a Kanban card in work in progress state spends in the Kanban workfl ow from the moment the Kanban team starts working it until the moment of measurement.
  • Problems (Impediments): The number of Kanban cards in the Kanban workflow that cannot be processed or delivered due to blocking dependencies, planning, or all other types of errors.

The excellent point about Kanban metrics is that you can determine the length of your feedback loop, based on how frequently you want to analyze your metrics and make changes in your Kanban workflow.

A long feedback loop indicates that your process improvement will be slow. A short feedback loop suggests that your process may not have sufficient time to stabilize between each change.

The length of the feedback loop in which you observe your metrics is one of the items you can experiment too.

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What Are Key Metrics To Manage A Kanban Workflow?

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