What separates the best software teams from the rest of the pack?

Do they work more hours?

Have brilliant engineers?

Maybe it's the free cold brew keg in the office?

Nope. It's none of those things.

Rather, it's the speed and quality of their execution. Behind many of the notable teams (Google, Spotify, etc) lies a secret weapon: optimized Cycle Time.

So What is Cycle Time?

Cycle time is the time from first commit to pull request merged. In other words, it’s the speed of your development.

"Development" can be broken down into 2 distinct phases:

  1. Design Phase - work prior to writing code
  2. Delivery Phase - work to deliver value to the customer

At Haystack we focus on the delivery phase.

Unlike the design phase, engineering teams have control over the delivery phase - making it better suited to measure and optimize at the engineering level.

And Why Does Cycle Time Matter?

Just about every developer, team, and company wants to ship faster, build better code, and deliver more value to customers.

By understanding their Cycle Time, dev teams can:

  1. Get a baseline for the development process
  2. Identify leaks and clogs in their process
  3. Optimize and improve the developer experience

Cycle Time can help us reduce our own bias and replace gut feelings. More importantly, it gives us a baseline from which we can continuously drive improvement.

This is the secret weapon.

But.. Why Is It A Secret?

If Cycle Time can so directly and powerfully help us do all those things, then why isn’t it more widely used?

Unfortunately, we (as humans) also have a tendency to overestimate the uniqueness of our work, misjudge our efficiency and favor gut feeling over measured metrics.

Some common (but incorrect) assumptions:

  1. Cycle Time does not apply to our use case
  2. We're already moving as fast as we can
  3. Our gut feelings are enough

Each of these (erroneous) assumptions leaves engineering teams without the data and tools they need to improve their own processes (and lives).

Okay So.. What's Next?

Cycle Time helps understand what's holding your team back. From tech debt to inefficient code review - Cycle Time helps spot everything that could be impacting your team.

Next Up: How Cycle Time Helps Connect All The Dots

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