Kanban: Lead Time vs. Cycle Time

There are multiple technologies and concepts that might feel the same but are totally different. Differentiating between them is quite important to clear the confusion. Some agile methodologies also feel the same, but they are quite different, like lead time and cycle time. They might feel the same, but they are a lot different.

Understanding the difference between lead time and cycle time is quite important as they are highly used parameters. Controlling them can have a high effect on the overall productivity of the team and project. So, let’s start with learning both methodologies and their differences.

What is the lead time?

The lead time is the time from the exact moment when the request was made by the client and placed on the Kanban board to when all the work on the certain unit is completed and successfully delivered to the client. So, it means that the lead time is the total time that the client was waiting for an item to be delivered.

What is the cycle time?

On the other hand, cycle time is the time the team spends working on a certain unit. So the cycle time can be measured when an item task enters the working column.

Lead Time vs. Cycle Time - What’s the difference?

The cycle time only measures the production rate of the manufacturing or working process on a project. In contrast, lead time includes all the operational processes that lead up to the working stage. Also, it is measured from the client perspective, while CT is measured from the internal process point of view.

Final words!

The knowledge of lead time and cycle time is important as it helps plan and improve overall business performance. So, it would be best to understand the difference between these terms to use them for your business advantage.