Cycle and flow times

Use the cycle time and flow time metrics to gain greater visibility of your development and delivery processes.


An item's cycle and flow times help you understand your flow efficiency. Based on these metrics, you can identify waste and inefficiencies in an item's lifecycle, and optimize your workflow.

For details on the item timeline, see Timeline view. For details on waste tracking, see Track waste.

Measure cycle time for features, epics, and other backlog items.

An item's cycle time reflects the time it takes to complete the development of an item.

Cycle time spans the period from the date an item entered the In Progress metaphase and the date it reached Done.

Back to top

Time measurement

The following factors affect an item's cycle time calculation:

Factor Details
Phase completion

The trigger for calculating and storing the cycle time for each phase is the transition out event of an item from the phase. For example, the number of days an item spent in the In Progress phase is only calculated after the item moves to In Testing.


  • Items with the phase time of less than an hour are not included in the phase's average calculation. Also, if an item's phase is incomplete, the calculation of the average phase time is not precise.
  • Items that have not reached their end phase or have skipped their start phase, as defined in the widget scope, are not included in the average cycle time calculation.
  • Items in the Done metaphase with zero cycle time are not included in the average cycle time calculation. This may happen when an item moves from metaphase New directly to Done, skipping the In Progress or In Testing metaphase.
Moving back and forth between phases

The cycle time includes a sum of all days that an item spent in each phase included in the cycle. For example, if a feature was in the In Progress phase, moved to the In Testing phase, moved back to In Progress, and out again, the cycle time includes all days of the In Progress phase, even though they were not sequential.

In summary, a work item's cycle time is the sum of all the days spent in each of the item's phases, from start to end phase.

Note: If an item moves back to the phase that is not included in the cycle, the time spent in that phase is not considered. For example, if a feature's start phase is In Progress, and it has spent some time in this phase, but then moved back to New, the time spent in New is not included.

Calendar events Cycle time measurements do not include non-workday calendar events configured for your workspace or team. For example, if your calendar events indicate a holiday on a certain day, and a weekend on Saturday and Sunday, these days are subtracted from the sum total of days. They do not influence the actual cycle time of an item.
Cycles with missing data

When calculating cycle time in a given scope, such as a release, milestone, or sprint, there may be items that are missing data.

Missing data may be a result of:

  • Unfinished items, such as backlog items, that have not reached their final phase.
  • Backlog items that are missing measurements from some phases, due to the way the workflow was designed.

Note: If an item's phase time is missing, or the phase is incomplete, cycle time widgets do not consider this item for calculating the average cycle time.

Back to top

Analyze cycle and flow times

You can analyze cycle and flow times for work items using the following means:

Means Details

Include the Cycle time field in the item's form and in grids.

Timeline view

In the Gantt chart for your work items, hover over a timeline bar to view the item's cycle time for that specific phase the bar represents.

Dashboard widgets

Analyze cycle and flow times for work items using the following widgets:

  • The cycle time widgets help you track the average cycle time for your features, user stories, and quality stories.

    An item's average cycle time implies the average time that all the work items spent in a range of phases included in the release cycle. For details, see Widget descriptions.

    You can customize the phases to include in the cycle time separately in each widget. For details, see Dashboard.

The flow time and cycle time widgets include insight cards that provide additional analytics. These analytics help you identify correlations, anomalies, trend behavior, and bottlenecks. For details, see Insight cards.

Back to top

See also: