Measuring Lead Time when Two Teams are involved

4 Key Metric Article Series

Accelerate is an insightful book but at the same time, it requires a deep understanding of the different topics described there. One of them is the 4 Key Metrics.

This article is about the Lead Time of 4 Key Metrics when multiple teams are involved. If you are not familiar with Accelerate and 4 Key Metrics, this article might lack some more introductory material 😅

On Lead Time with Multiple Teams

Fast recap about what Lead Time means:

Lead time is the time it takes to go from a customer making a request to the request being satisfied.

Let’s imagine the situation where a user requirement requires changes in two different systems owned by two different teams.

Feature Requires

  • Team A to Deliver User Story A

  • Team B to Deliver User Story B

  • Both User Stories need to be enabled for the user at the same time. They are co-dependent

Lead Time per Team

  • Team A takes 10 days to deliver User Story A

  • Team B takes 5 days to deliver User Story B

Lead Time for Requirement is 10 Days because Team A took the most time.

But! Which is the Lead Time for Team B?

5 or 10 days?

If you consider it’s 5 days…

If you consider 5, you actually are measuring when you "finish" the user story, but not when it's delivered to the user. Here you see the team performance in isolation of others. It causes that even though the team is a high performance, the organization isn't.

Local maxima

If you consider it’s 10 days…

If you consider 10 days, you might become frustrated. You were fast, but you're depending on other teams to ship it. Causing your metrics to get worse. Yet, I consider the most insightful way to measure Lead Time. It shows team dependencies and, maybe, unclear boundaries

I'm not saying that you can avoid these situations, but by measuring them this way, you can see how many times it happens and you can take decisions to improve them.

Here you are betting for the organization performance

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