1. Process efficiency
The Process Efficiency metric allows you to keep an eye on how efficient your process is.
Learning more about Kanban, you realize that there is much more to it than simple visualization and tasks' progress tracking. It helps you to spot the weak stages in your process and shorter delivery times to become more efficient.
Measuring efficiency helps teams to analyze performance, identify bottlenecks, remove waste and improve their processes.
The Process Efficiency Widget embedded in Kanbanize automatically generates the efficiency metric. It calculates the ratio between value-adding time and the lead time required to complete the work.
Getting an accurate efficiency results requires an initial system configuration and understanding of the Kanban concept and its elements that have an impact on it.
2. How to configure your Kanbanize board to measure the efficiency of your flow?
Start with a precise reflection of all stages in your workflow and define each column you create as an active column or a queue column.
Img. 1 visualizes a development team process that we take as an example herewith.
All columns where tasks are actively worked on towards completion of a given target generate value-added time and should be marked as "activity" columns. In Image 1, “Development” and "Verification" are active columns, because in the first one the developers are working on implementing the code and in the latter column the senior team member is reviewing the code -> upon approval they place the cards in "Done".
For the rest of the time, the cards are waiting in the columns marked as Queue. No action is being performed, therefore the columns generate non-value added time. As per the example (img.1): "Ready to start" and "Ready for verification" are Queue columns.
Important: In Kanbanize, non-value added time is generated not only when cards are waiting in the Queue columns, but also when cards are in a blocked state.
Kanbanize automatically records the time each card has spent along the process: from the initial phase until deliver and separates value-added time and non-value added time.
Tip: To define a column as Active or Queue -> open the Edit workflow mode of the board and use the gear icon that belongs to each column to select the corresponding type.
NOTE: When users block cards in the Requested area or in Queue columns, they will get a Kanbanize message notifying them that this action will decrease the efficiency.
If cards, which already accumulate "wait" time gets blocked, their non-value added time doubles.
It is recommended to block cards in "Active" columns only and resolve them as soon as possible.
3. How is the Process efficiency calculated and what metrics count?
The flow efficiency is automatically calculated via the Process efficiency widget.
The efficiency formula is as follows:
Process Efficiency[%] = Value-added Time / Lead Time * 100
Value-added time is the Lead time - the time spent in Queue columns like "Waiting for Verification" including the time from blocked cards if any.
The Lead time is the timespan between the task entering the flow until leaving it (from "Business requirement" to "Done).
EXAMPLE: If you need 10 days to process a card from the "Business requirement" column to the "Done" column, during which the card has spent 5 of the 10 days in columns where the activity takes place (Development and Verification); 1 day in a Block state and 3 days in Queue columns ("Ready ot Start" and "Ready for Verification") - > when you calculate the ratio between value adding and lead time in the scenario described above [(5/10)x100] your resulting percentage will be the efficiency of the process of completing the given task – in this case 50%.
IMPORTANT: The efficiency result is based on your board cycle time configuration.
4. How to add the process efficiency widget?
The Process Efficiency Widget is a predefined widget, which is available in the Retractable menu on your Dashboard -> Add Widget -> Process Efficiency Widget. Select the widget and configure it to display information about the board or swimlane you want to monitor. The widget will be pinned to the right side of your dashboard.
You can use the filters in the widget to measure the efficiency of a selected group of cards, a particular assignee, etc. Moreover, you can configure the time for which the widget will calculate efficiency percentages to create a trend and spot any deviations.
5. How to improve your efficiency?
The Kanban method aims to support the development of a smooth flow that delivers customer value through a process. Therefore, processes should be constantly optimized and polished.
One of the main telltales for a problematic area in the process is the presence of buffers i.e. Queue columns with a large number of cards. This means that the column gets more work items that it can process. A lot of reasons may stand behind such a bottleneck: lack of human capacity or a business environment that allows work context switching, etc.
Work items get stuck for a variety of reasons, which always leads to longer delivery time.
- To minimize your delivery time start searching for the issues that cause queues and analyze the cards that accumulate longest "waiting" or "blocked" time.
This proves how important it is to create Queue columns prior to each "Activity" stages in your flow. If a Queue grows significantly compared to the "activity" stage, then you have found your bottleneck. Kanbanize has analytics modules that help you monitor your flow and analyze the cycle time of cards (cycle time chart, heat map, flow diagram) to prevent such stoppers.
- Start using the Work in Progress Limits (WIPs) to keep a steady rhythm of your flow.
WIP means the allowed number of items that a stage can hold or a team member can work on at the same time. This lean principle embedded in the software prevents accumulation of too many cards in a given stage and helps team members to minimize context switching and deliver faster.
For example, if your WIP limit is set to "3" and the given column already holds three cards, the system will not allow adding a new card (exceeded limit) before at least one of the existing card is processed to a different column.