Lead Time vs Cycle Time

04 March 2017

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Struggling to come up with a suitable analogy to explain the difference between cycle time and lead time when discussing #NoEstimates (again), I hit on the following:

If you are eating at a restaurant, lead time is the time from when you give the wait staff your order to when the food arrives at your table and is put in front of you. It’s when you, the customer order something and your mental clock starts “ticking” in anticipation of the food arriving.

Cycle time begins when the chef begins work cooking your order, importantly not when the order reaches the kitchen. As before, the cycle time ends when the meal is delivered to you, the customer.

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