Getting started with lead time insights
How long does it take you to ship new product changes? Are your DevOps investments helping you ship product changes faster?
By measuring lead time, you can measure the impact of changes to tools and processes. For example, if there are delays in reviewing changes, team leaders could improve collaboration during the code review process with automated GitHub Actions or Slack reminders. If there are bottlenecks after merging changes, platform engineers could look for ways to optimize or automate builds to speed up their team’s deployments.
With the lead time dashboard, you can answer questions like:
- How are we performing relative to before?
- Where are there bottlenecks in our development process?
- Are we improving as we invest in new tools?
Measuring lead time
Lead time measures the time taken for changes to make it into production, beginning with the first commit (or the first time an issue is moved to in progress if you connected Jira) and ending with a deployment. It is calculated by combining the average time spent in each stage of your development process.
According to the 2022 Accelerate State of DevOps, a report on engineering performance compiled by researchers at Google, high performing teams have an overall lead time of less than a week. Medium performing teams have lead times between one week and one month, while low performing teams have lead times between one month and six months.
By measuring lead time, you can see how your organization is changing over time and discover opportunities to improve or stay on track.
Using breakdowns to identify bottlenecks
If you’re thinking about how your team can release changes faster, the lead time dashboard provides breakdowns to help you identify and remove bottlenecks.
There are four types of lead time breakdowns: stage, team, repository, and label.
Stage breakdowns help you understand where in your development process your team is experiencing the longest delays. Are code reviews slipping, causing delays? Are deployments manual or unwieldy, leading to a backlog of changes?
Team breakdowns help you better understand differences between teams who might have different expectations and workflows. For example, a data team might have additional security or privacy requirements compared to a frontend team during the approval process. How are teams improving relative to their own long-term averages?
Repository breakdowns provide insight into different projects and initiatives. Are certain repositories creating bottlenecks?
Lastly, label breakdowns measure lead time based on your team’s pull request labels, such as feature, bug, and dependency. Labels are useful in comparing lead times across different types of tasks. How quickly can your team merge bug fixes? What is your lead time for new features?
Measuring impact with comparisons and related metrics
The lead time dashboard also provides context to help you understand how your teams are trending over time. Comparisons to the previous period make it easier to identify the long-term impact of new tools and workflows.
Related metrics give you insight into metrics that may be affecting lead time, such as review turnaround time, time to deploy, and throughput. As lead time increases or decreases, related metrics build a more holistic view of team efficiency by adding context.
Running a mini retro with recent changes
The lead time dashboard provides insight into which changes took the longest to make, broken down by pull request. This view is useful for planning retrospectives as you try to understand work that experienced blockers during the last sprint or is taking longer than expected to complete.
Keeping a pulse on lead time
There are two easy ways to track and share your organization’s lead time over time.
First, you can create a shareable lead time report using the dashboard filters to set a custom date range. You can save and share filtered views with other members of your team by copying the URL of your current view with filters applied.
Second, when you connect Slack, we’ll automatically send you weekly reports on your team’s progress and alert you when there are major changes in your software delivery process, such as a spike in lead time. You can learn more about our Slack integration in the Slack marketplace.
To get started measuring lead time, you first need to connect the Software.com app to your organization on GitHub. It only takes a few minutes to get set up and receive your first insights.
Once you have connected GitHub, head over to the Lead time page in the web app. If you have any questions about using your lead time dashboard, you can schedule some time to chat with our team.