1. Introduction to the Process efficiency widget
The Process Efficiency metric allows you to keep an eye on how efficient your process is.
Measuring efficiency in your Kanban process helps teams to analyze performance, identify bottlenecks, remove waste and improve their flows.
In Kanbanize, you can easily measure efficiency via the predefined Process efficiency Widget.
The widget calculates the ratio between the actual value-adding time, during which a team member actively works towards completing a task, and the entire lead time required to complete an entire process. The widget separates between value-adding time and wait + blocked times in order to produce a metric for measuring the efficiency of your processes in the form of a percentage.
Moreover, it indicates efficiency improvement or efficiency regression compared to the previous period.
2. How to configure your Board settings to measure flow efficiency?
Getting accurate efficiency metrics requires an initial system configuration and a good understanding of the Kanban concept. If you want to track efficiency as well as other time-related metrics, there are two major things that you need to take into consideration during the board setup process:
- The Board Cycle time configuration (2.1)
- Mark columns in your workflow as "activity" or "queue" (2.2)
2.1 The cycle time is configured per board. The system tracks the time that cards spend in each column, then it adds those values together to form the cycle time of the card. You can select which columns in your workflow will be included for the cycle time calculation.
The cycle time metric has a major impact on the process efficiency calculation. To learn more about the cycle time configuration, check the dedicated article.
2.2 When you create your workflow, make sure that each column is marked as "activity" or a "queue" column. What is the difference?
The example below illustrates the product development process (img.1).
All columns where tasks are actively worked on towards completion of a given goal generate value-adding time and should be marked as "activity" columns. Such columns are “Development” and "Verification". When cards are in the "Development" column, team members are working on implementing the code. Cards in the "Verification" column indicate that the senior team member is reviewing the code.
For the rest of the time, the cards are waiting in the columns marked as Queue and generate non-value added time. Such columns are "Ready to start" and "Ready for verification".
Kanbanize automatically records the time each card has spent along the process: from the initial phase until delivery (lead time) and separates value-adding time and non-value added time.
Note: 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.
How to mark a column as "activity" or "queue"?
Open the Edit workflow designer of the respective board and use the gear icon that belongs to every column. In the Edit column panel, checkmark if the column is "activity" or "queue" and save your changes.
3. What is the Process efficiency formula?
The efficiency formula is as follows:
Process Efficiency[%] = Value-added Time / Lead Time * 100
Check the example below and review formula components:
The Lead time is the entire cycle time of the card (from "Business requirement" to "Done" = 10 days)
Value-adding is the time the card spends in activity columns such as "Coding" and "Verification" = 5 days.
Non-value adding is the time spent in queue columns like "waiting for review" or blocked = 5 days
When developing a new feature, a programmer needs 10 days to move a card through the process from requested to done, during which the card spends five of the ten days in columns where activity takes place (coding, verification) and 5 of those ten days in queues (ready to start, ready for review).
When you calculate the ratio between value-adding and lead time in the scenario described above [(5/10)x100] your resulting percentage will represent the efficiency of the process of completing the given task - in this case, 50%.
TIP: If you manage to decrease the time each card spend in the "Queue" columns, your team will improve the efficiency results.
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. To learn how to add the efficiency widget, please check the dedicated article.
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 the team can process.
There are many reasons that stand behind such a bottleneck: lack of human capacity, a bad work estimation or a business environment that allows "work context switching", etc.
The work items get stuck for a variety of reasons, which always leads to longer delivery time and lower efficiency.
- To minimize your delivery time start searching for the reasons 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" stage in your flow. If the tasks in the "queue" column grow significantly compared to the cards in the "activity" column, then you have found your bottleneck.
TIP: 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.
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.
To learn more about the efficiency concept, please visit our blog and check the dedicated articles.
- The Art of Lean - monitoring flow efficiency.
- The Soft spot between personal and process efficiency.