Agile Software Development

How Cycle Time Measures Team Collaboration Better than Velocity

Cycle time measures the time taken by a team to finish assigned tasks per iteration. On the other hand, velocity measures the amount of work or stories team completes in a single sprint. Johanna Rothman, in her blog article, explains the advantages of measuring cycle time to understand team collaboration.

Measuring Cycle Time

Even with small stories, the cycle time is smaller for collocated teams than distributed teams. You need the following to measure a cycle time accurately:

  • Use a value stream map to figure out the wait times and work times.
  • Keep a track of the change in the status of the work—wait time or work time.
  • Collect all the work times and add. Do the same for the wait times in the timeline.
  • Add the work times and wait times to get your cycle time.

If the work time is closer to the cycle time, the team has collaborated efficiently. If the wait time is closer to the total time, they have waited more than they have worked.

Rothman has explained the difference based on two examples as given below:

When Team Collaborates: Two developers work in pair while the tester test parallelly in a team. Once the tester finishes, the developers resolve issues. They wait for a senior developer to review the story. Once reviewed, they mark the story as done. The story has a cycle time of 5.25 hours. .5 hours is the total wait time in the cycle time.

When Team Does Not Collaborate: A developer works on codes alone. He asks a reviewer to evaluate and issues are revealed after evaluation. The developer asks to continue with the review and searches for a tester. A tester is available after 4 hours. The tester finds issues and wants to clarify the story with the developers. The first developer then corrects the code. They all then wait for the Product Owner to review the story. The cycle time comes up to 18.25 hours. The wait time is 10 hours out of the total time devoted to the story.


If you measure the cycle time of a story per iteration, you will get an average cycle time for each story type. Come up with the most ‘optimistic, realistic, and pessimistic dates’ to set a reasonable deadline.

To view the original article in full, visit the following link:

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