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Throughput: the metric in your project’s flow management

Implementing throughput in your software development team is one way to keep your project production in a more organized way. With the data collection offered by using the metric, the IT team’s technical leadership can analyze how the team’s productivity is doing and help with the project’s production planning even before it starts.

This data also favors the communication with their clients, since knowing the production deadlines in the development sprints, it is possible to better negotiate the delivery date of the product without a code quality deficit. 

To help you better understand what throughput means and how it can help your day to day life, we have produced an article that talks about exactly that. Check below and see how important it is to implement the metric in your company.

What is throughput?

It can also be called average flow rate, throughput is the metric that measures your team’s delivery capacity in a cycle of time. That is, with it you can analyze how many tasks or user stories your team can deliver within a week or during a development sprint, be it weekly, biweekly or monthly.

With this agile metrification, it is possible to verify the average performance of your technology team for new products from the projects that have already been delivered to customers. In addition, it allows you to answer a series of questions that arise before the delivery as:

“In a project with X demands, how long can my team finish it?”, “How many features can we deliver per sprint?”, “My team has a good delivery rhythm?”, “We can accelerate this process even more?”, among many others.

With throughput, every technical project leader can realize the frequency of deliveries and the “capacity” of his team. If we think of a scenario where the team works with user stories of similar size and complexity, it is possible to have predictability of when a feature will be delivered.

To better illustrate how the metric works, we separate a graph that shows a development team with a low trend of deliveries, since there is a very variable number among the sprints. This happens a lot because of bugs that may appear during development, causing them to be thrown to the next sprint and delay the production of what was previously planned. Check out the graph below.

How important is throughput in flow management?

How much your development team can produce in a period of time plays a key role in workflow management. That’s because, having this data in hand, you can see in what time frame the task tends to be performed and how many features can be developed in a given period of time.

Acting together with Kanban and WIP – the acronym for Work in Progress – it is possible to measure with a certain clarity the production time of each development item, and can even serve to reorganize them in a way that is more productive and agile for the team. Moreover, with the data analysis it is possible to see other important aspects such as project reliability and production efficiency, checking where your team demands more time to develop.

Throughput is also important to analyze the categorization of your Kanban activities, so you can see where the team’s effort is being invested. Because the team may be delivering 10 activities per week, but if 8 are bug, surely the customer will not be seeing much value in these deliveries. And, in this case, it is necessary to make an alignment of expectations and understand why so many bugs happen.

What can reduce the delivery rate of my team?

Within the development sprints, some factors can affect the delivery rate of your technology team, being super important that every leader knows how to make the diagnosis. Among the factors that can decrease your team’s throughput is the realization of very long iterations or development sprints, constant change in the project scope, some failure that may occur and delay the product’s progress and even when the Work in Progress limit is not respected.

After making the diagnosis about what is actually delaying the production, being able to correct these problems can make your team increase the delivery rate in a satisfactory way and increase productivity also in other projects.

Conclusion

In this article, I tried to bring to you the concept of throughput, an agile metric that allows you to check if your development team has a regular delivery in your projects. This analysis allows you to answer questions about the development time even before the project starts, since each team has a trend of deliveries per week.

In addition, several decisions of your startup can be made from this data collection, making the throughput essential in every technology team that seeks to remain productive.

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