Track your cycle time frequency distribution. Forecast work item delivery times. Evaluate your delivery performance.
The Cycle Time Histogram for Azure DevOps plots the frequency distribution against the completion times of the completed work items in your workflow. The vertical axis displays a frequency, while the horizontal axis shows your cycle times. By analyzing the distribution of your cycle times, you can assess whether there is too much variability within your process.
A Cycle Time Histogram with a big hump on the left and a very long tail to the right is indicative of highly varying cycle times. This denotes that your process is inconsistent. To work towards more predictable delivery times, consider putting in place a WIP-limited pull system.
The Cycle Time Histogram for Azure DevOps uses past cycle time data to forecast future delivery times. Percentile lines outline the probability that a work item will be completed within a certain cycle time. A higher percentile line translates to a higher likelihood of delivering your work on time.
Use the percentile lines as a guideline to define your service level agreements. Discuss the different levels of confidence with your clients and stakeholders and in accordance with their optimum comfort level, define your SLAs. As a guide, we would suggest using the 85th percentile line to begin with.
Use average cycle time to gauge your performance. In the Cycle Time Histogram for Azure DevOps, we show the mean, median and mode average cycle times, alongside line charts of how their trends build over time. Ideally, the lines should stay close to each other, while remaining at an even rate or going down.
Pick your average and monitor its line profile! A rising line tells you that your team needs more time, on average, to complete their work items. In this case, you might need to reevaluate your WIP limits or alter your process policies in order to establish a more efficient delivery workflow.