5 More Metrics To Help Assess the Health Of Your Delivery
Here at Flomatika we spent a lot of time thinking and talking about Metrics and Analytics. Previously I wrote a blog covering 5 metrics you probably haven’t heard about. It was getting long so I kept it down to 5. So here are 5 more that didn’t make it in the original blog. Hopefully you find these interesting and help provoke some thoughts around some more advanced metrics and how you can use them in your delivery systems.
Percentage of Stale Work
One of the things we try to do is to make the invisible, visible! This is a metric we haven’t seen done by anyone else out there.
Just because an item has started and moved to ‘In Progress’, does not necessarily mean that it continues to be actively worked on. There could be various reasons for this to occur. An expedited item has come in, a change in priority, it’s waiting for an external dependency, etc. If these items are marked as ‘In Progress’, but haven’t been touched for a period of time (i.e. no activity on the work item in your work management system), it is considered ‘stale’.
This is one type of invisibility in your system. Just because an item is “in process” doesn’t not mean it is actively “in progress”. On the surface it seems these items are receiving attention, but the reality is that, for whatever reason, they have been put on pause.
It’s important to identify these items and make them visible in your system. If they are unseen, then they can’t be addressed. Having a large % of stale items is an indicator that there may be other issues going on in your delivery system. Is there a systemic issue that is causing your team(s) to start work but then needing to put them on pause? For example, is there a quality issue causing lots of expedites to enter the system and take priority? Is there perhaps a constant change of priorities impacting the ability for the teams to get items to done?
Flow Debt is the ratio between Lead Time (the speed at which you have historically been able to deliver) and WIP Age (how long things are taking right now). Just because you have been able to deliver at that speed in the past, does not mean you are able to continue at this pace. As they say, past performance is not an indicator of future performance.
Items in WIP, once they get completed, will impact your lead time. If your WIP Age is already greater than your Lead time, then your impact invariably goes up. A flow debt of 4X means your system is degrading at 4 times what it has been able to complete in the past. I.E. if you finish everything that is in WIP now, your lead time will be 4X slower!
Flow Debt is a leading indicator that there is a degradation of performance in your delivery system. As opposed to Lead time, which is a lagging indicator, as it has already occurred.
Understanding your Flow Debt, will allow you to act sooner on addressing the causes much sooner than waiting for your Lead Time to be updated. By then you may have lost a large opportunity of time to address the cause.
Commitment Rate & Time to Commit
These two metrics are worth talking about together.
Commitment Rate is the percentage of the items that are requested, how many of these actually get worked on by the team. Time to Commit is typically how long they sit in Inventory before they are picked up and worked on by the team. We use the 85th %ile for this metric (which you can translate as the majority of the time).
When used together, your customers will have a good idea around if they raise a request, how likely they are to be worked on, and how long it typically takes for them to be picked up. You can then apply filters to conduct deeper analysis to see how these metrics change. Are these metrics different for Production Defects vs New Feature requests?
This goes towards helping set expectations with your customers. Using the examples above, if they raise a production defect, perhaps it will give them confidence that this type of requests will almost always be picked up, and typically within a day. If they raise a new Feature Request, about half of them are worked on, and you usually have to wait about 2 months. Is this within an acceptable window? What if it typically takes 200 days? Should the customer explore other options?
These are items that have entered your system as an option, but at some point have been discarded. Depending on when they are discarded, they can be seen as: a positive thing (your triage is pruning/refining your options and narrowing down what will actually be worked on), or as a waste in your system. Time and effort has been expended, but ultimately the work has been thrown away, leading to days of effort that have been wasted that could have been used on other items.
If there is a consistent volume of items being discarded after the commitment point this is a strong sign there is a systemic issue that needs to be looked at. Has there been too many late priority changes being made? Is a triage process lacking or missing altogether?
These items are part of the series of metrics that we consider as part of Delivery Governance. Indicators around the health of your delivery system.
- Commitment Rate and Time to Commit help to understand the flow of your demands.
- % Stale Work, Flow Debt and Discarded Items help to identify sources of delay and waste in your Value Stream or Delivery System.
These are just some more metrics we’ve been thinking about in Flomatika that we haven’t encountered on other platforms. Hopefully you have found this insightful and it inspires you in new ways to approach your performance analysis.
Are there any other metrics and analysis you use that you haven’t encountered anywhere else? Feel free to share!