Software development is a process. Any process can be simplified as below:
Lead time = cycle time + queue time
Here, Lead time - total time, Cycle time - total time of processing, Queue time - waiting time.
Let's take a look at an imaginary engineering team which works on a web application. Their workflow consists of 3 stages development, testing and deploy. So for this team lead time is:
Lead time = (dev time) + (waiting for available QA specialist + testing time) + (waiting in deployment queue + deploy).
Lead time is a good candidate for the north star metric for engineering team because of its great characteristics:
- Represents the whole software development process;
- Easy to spot process bottlenecks;
- Focuses on bringing value to customers.