A simple cumulative flow diagram enabled us to track items by state. Which state you track is entirely up to you. You can create a set of states on the board based around your value stream and track against some or all of them. We use:
- Total – number of items in our backlog, we try to keep this number down and limit these to epics.
- Started – analysis has begun, epics are broken down into stories and MMFs, acceptance criteria is written and “enough” technical documentation and/or creative is complete, MMFs are T-Shirt sized and engineering “tasks” are created.
- Developed – unit tests, code, automated acceptance tests are written
- Tested – passed by QA and is in UAT
- Complete – has been released to live
This enables us to report and track our average cycle time; to complete an item from when it enters the queue to when it goes live.
Cycle time will allow us to plan more effectively with our customer. If with some certainty we know how long an item will take to complete based on its size. It helps answer the question “if I asked you to start on feature x when will it go live?”
In addition we can easily view the amount of work in progress (WIP) we have per state. Work in progress helps us report and track how many items the team is working on at one time, are we taking on too much?
We can also find bottlenecks quickly and look at ways to improve or remove these, for example is our analysis taking too long or are there too many items in QA for our tester to handle? From the example below you can see we have items stacking up that arent released, in our organisation this is due to release freezes (during times such as calendar and financial year end).