The lead time starts being measured as soon as a request appears. Whether it's a request for a new product, a feature - or whatever your business works on - the happy incident of a new business arriving to your headquarters is the beginning of the lead time.
What do you count as the cycle time then? It doesn't often happen, that your employees are just sitting around with nothing to do (hopefully!). So, as the new order comes in, it will first spend some time in waiting for its implementation turn. It may be days or weeks before someone is available to actually work on this. But once they do - the moment the real work on this order starts is the beginning of the cycle time, lasting until the work on it is completed.
Why is keeping the difference between these two as small as possible so vital to your business prosperity? When customers choose to do business with you, all that they are aware of is the lead time. They have no insight into your pending orders and ongoing work - what they base your response time on is the time that passes from when they deliver the order to you until your product delivery (lead time) - as opposed to the time that it actually takes you to process it (cycle time).
How can you improve on your lead and cycle time?
What you need to help you with this is a tool, that will automatically make the statistics readable and accessible at any time with no extra effort from you or your team. Kanban Tool - an online visual management software - does that exactly. While you're happily managing your tasks and assigning them to team members, the software takes a note of when a task has entered the Kanban board and later compares it to the time that someone was actually working on it (seamless Time Tracking).
What other benefits are there?
Once you apply Kanban Tool, you'll get not only to follow the Lead and Cycle Time and possibly greatly improve your performance by this, but you will also be able to:
- make sure that the whole team follows the information about all projects and is up-to-date
- get unlimited access to your workflow (with Kanban Tool online service, the boards are available form everywhere and at any time)
- improve the team communication (with Kanban card comments, checklists, attachments, assignments and more)
- ensure that the work process stays flexible and is always easy to change and improve - and with continuous feedback coming from the analytical section - you're on the best road to indeed greatly improve the process
- productivity increase - thanks to the fact that the team is more focused (Kanban applies Work In Progress limits) and because of the savings on communication time and slip-ups, the overall productivity has no choice but to go up.