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What does Lead Time for Changes tell you about the efficiency of your organization’s development process?

July 6th, 2022
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The adoption of DevOps processes and culture has proven to bring many benefits: from speeding up, streamlining, and enhancing the quality of software delivery to boosting staff morale and motivation.

With the adoption of DevOps, organizations aim to enhance business outcomes through improved teamwork, efficiency, and effectiveness. A business may optimize deployment pipelines, shorten Lead Time, and improve business outcomes by measuring important DevOps KPIs like Lead Time for Changes.

Lead Time for Changes is one of the two DORA metrics that measure velocity. Its scope in DevOps is to help software businesses increase software delivery velocity. With the software development process becoming increasingly complex, measuring project velocity and accurately spotting blockers and delays has become challenging due to processes like running with different test phases, complicated routes to production, or having separate test teams.

This article aims to explain Lead Time for Changes, how you can measure it more effectively, and how it fits into the bigger picture of enhancing business results. At Waydev, we understand how time-consuming it can be for technical managers to ask engineers to provide their average Lead Time for Changes. Our platform helps engineering managers to access these KPIs in no time, visualize essential metrics like the Lead Time for Changes in a single dashboard, and receive automated reports to increase velocity and spot bottlenecks.

What is Lead Time for Changes in DevOps?

Lead Time for Changes can be defined as the amount of time needed to implement, test, and deliver changes to the codebase. Simply put, this metric measures the time elapsed between committing the code and sending it to production. 

Lead Time for Changes is one of the four DORA metrics used to measure the performance of DevOps teams. It’s nearly impossible to determine how each component of the development process fits together without a trustworthy set of data points to track across teams. The effectiveness of your DevOps project can be determined by measuring DORA metrics through the Lead Time for Changes metric.

Waydev’s DORA metrics dashboard pulls these metrics automatically in a single dashboard and does so automatically, thanks to its CI/CD integrations, such as GitHub Actions, Jenkins, and CircleCI. You can now get a clear overview of your team’s delivery performance over time, generate reports with actionable insights, and identify areas of improvement.

Before DevOps and automation, Lead Time for Changes was calculated by looking at the time each revision was initiated and then updating the time at which the same revision successfully completed the deployment pipeline’s final action.

By comparing these numbers, you obtain the Lead Time for Changes. By making the average of these numbers over a period of time, you get the Lead Time for Changes to production.

In the past, engineering managers needed to clearly understand when work begins and concludes to calculate Lead Time for Changes, such as the quantifiable interval between a commit and the release of the resultant code. 

Nowadays, measuring Lead Time for Changes is easier thanks to data-driven engineering management analytics platforms like Waydev, which pulls data automatically thanks to our CI/CD integrations. The goal is to reduce the deployment’s overall time by accelerating deployment through automation, such as by automating the testing process.

Why is Lead Time for Changes essential to measure in DevOps?

Lead Time for Changes is a crucial velocity metric in DevOps because it shows the effectiveness of the development process, the complexity of the code and the development systems, and the team and developer capabilities.

If the Lead Time for Changes is too long, this can indicate that the development/deployment process may be inefficient at some stages or contain performance bottlenecks.

By analyzing your team’s Lead Time for Changes, you’ll better understand how long it takes your team to deliver a product to your clients. High Lead Time for Changes can negatively impact user experience and customer satisfaction. Customers are more likely to turn to competitors who can release new features weekly (or even at a shorter cadence) if they wait months or quarters for product updates. 

Moreover, high Lead Time for Changes can also be an indicator of a blockage, which can lead to team frustration. With Waydev, you can take a proactive approach – if the Lead Time for Changes is too high, you can identify these blockages without spending your team’s time on meetings where they have to explain the reason behind these bottlenecks.

For these reasons, tracking and analyzing Lead Time for Changes is critical in DevOps. As engineering managers, Lead Time for Changes can provide you with valuable insights at two levels:

How do you measure Lead Time for Changes?

Below are three easy steps that every engineering manager can adopt to measure Lead Time for Changes efficiently:

Step 1: Collect the data

Firstly, you need to collect the data, and there are two ways in which you can do so:

waydev dora metrics dashboard

Step 2: Categorize the data

Although DevOps teams may measure their Lead Time for Changes differently, it’s important to compare your team’s results with the industry and know where you’re currently at. This is where the  Accelerate State of DevOps Report 2021 comes into play.

DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA) team at Google Cloud asked the respondents the following question: “For the primary application or service you work on, what is your Lead Time for Changes (i.e., how long does it take to go from code committed to code successfully running in production)?”

Here is how Lead Time for Changes was categorized, following that survey question:

The report concluded that Elite Performers decreased their Lead Time for Changes when compared to the results of the report from 2019, improving from less than one day in 2019 to less than one hour in 2021. Moreover, the Elite group reported that it routinely deploys on-demand and performs multiple daily deployments. 

By comparison, Low Performers reported deploying fewer than once per six months (less than two per year), again a decrease in performance compared to 2019. Elite Performers deploy code approximately 973 times more frequently than Low Performers.

Step 3: Leverage the data

The main objective of analyzing DevOps Lead Time for Changes is to understand how long it takes for your team members from creating the first commit to deploying it to production, thus allowing you to spot areas of improvement in DevOps performance.

The purpose of identifying these weaknesses is to spot processes that can be improved and possible reasons why things may not be going as planned. Ultimately, the data can assist your teams in making essential adjustments for success.

Because it’s crucial how you visualize this data, with our Notifications feature, you can get weekly or monthly reports and compare your team’s project velocity over time, thus allowing you to get actionable insights about your team and DevOps processes.

How to increase project velocity by optimizing Lead Time for Changes

You can optimize Lead Time for Changes and increase your team’s velocity by adopting different strategies. These tactics will help you reduce the average Lead Time for Changes in your team and ultimately positively impact your business. 

Automate for deployment pipeline – CI/CD automation 

Automating the deployment pipeline is a commonly used tactic in software, meaning that all tasks traditionally done manually are now benefiting from automation, thus making them more efficient.

Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD) are the two critical processes in deployment pipeline automation. CI/CD integrations are software practices where code changes are made regularly, enabling development teams to deploy code to production quicker and more effectively. 

Because the delivery process is automated, developers’ manual tasks are reduced, which means their Lead Time for Changes will also decrease.

As an engineering manager or executive, you can take CI/CD automation to the next level and opt for Waydev, whose CI/CD integrations can help you scale velocity by integrating your DevOps software and git data into your everyday tracking.

Test automation

Test automation is the process of using automation tools to review software and make sure that it meets the expected standards. When done well, test automation reduces much of the manual testing cycle efforts and ultimately reduces Lead Time for Changes.

This strategy enables any necessary modifications to be done early in the development life cycle, minimizing change failure rates and saving developers time from running the tests themselves.

Your team’s entire Lead Time for Changes can be decreased by integrating CI/CD and test automation, enabling you to release items to customers more quickly.

Release often and in small batches

The software engineering industry moves fast, so you and your team must respond quickly to business changes. If your team’s Lead Time for Changes is too high, then regardless of how innovating and interesting your releases are, there’s a high chance that you’ll lose ground to quicker-acting rivals when they reach the client.

This is why releasing little and often is an excellent strategy for spending less time identifying where the problems are and reducing risks. With CD, you can release each feature as available instead of waiting for an “all-in” major release. 

Smaller releases keep your clients satisfied and speed up the entire development process, ultimately reducing Lead Time for Changes.

Automate the review process 

Instead of waiting for external reviews or cumbersome change approval to merge and distribute any code changes deemed necessary, as an engineering manager, you can automate the review process to reduce your team’s average Lead Time for Changes.

If your team has access to automated testing through CI/CD and team members who can review and comment on their code modifications, their DevOps Lead Time for Changes will decrease significantly. 

With Waydev’s solution for code review workflow, you’ll have access to code collaboration stats between the submitters and the reviewers, giving you a clear overview of how your team works collaboratively. You’ll be able to speed up the velocity in the code review process and optimize team collaboration. 

Flow time 

Ultimately, developers need uninterrupted, focused time for coding. If their work is constantly disrupted by other unnecessary tasks or meetings they need to attend, then their Lead Time for Changes will increase.

With our calendar integration, you can measure Flow time and meeting load for your teams by connecting your Microsoft Outlook or Google Calendar.

Waydev helps engineering teams measure and improve Lead Time for Changes

Engineering managers can use Lead Time for Changes to understand the team’s workload and spot bottlenecks, such as understaffing, poor resource allocation, and lengthy code review processes.

Waydev is committed to providing a data-driven approach to help engineering managers improve team velocity. Our solution enables you to evaluate and monitor DORA metrics, like Lead Time for Changes and access insightful reports to make informed decisions and strategies.

Contact us to learn how Waydev can help you accurately measure Lead Time for Changes and have all the necessary information to streamline your team’s development process!

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