In Kanban planning, an important part of the process of improving workflow efficiency is measuring and analyzing the results of your efforts. In order to give all of our users more data power and flexibility, we decided to partner with our friends at ActionableAgile™ to integrate their powerful analytics arsenal with the workflow mapped on Kanban boards in Kanbanize.

Their expertise and dedication have led to the development of some of the most powerful Lean analytics in the world and we are proud to be able to offer them to Kanbanize users. This article initiates a series dedicated to each of the new premium analytics charts that are now available as an add-on to all paid Kanbanize subscription plans.

Meet the Cycle Time Scatterplot

The cycle time scatterplot chart is a representation of how long it takes to get things done for individual items on your Kanban boards. The chart’s goal is to visualize the cycle time of assignments within a predefined time frame. In addition, it aims to provide you with information about when a task can be expected to be completed and the certainty of this as a measurement in percentiles. With the help of the scatterplot, you’ll have less difficulty predicting when you will be able to deliver a certain amount of value to your customers.

Visual Indicator of How Long Your Tasks are Taking for a Given Period

Kanbanize cycle time report chart

At first sight, it might not be very convincing that a number of scattered dots can tell you when a certain task is expected to be completed. To make it clear, it is important to understand what the different elements of the scatterplot mean and how they complement each other to give you a probabilistic way of estimating the cycle time of any future assignment.

The horizontal axis of the chart visualizes a selected time frame by dates. The vertical one represents the cycle time of the tasks that were completed during this period calculated in days. Each of the markers that are scattered across the chart is a representation of a task contained within a card on your project board. Their position is determined according to the date of completion and how long it took for them to get to completion. For example, if a task is completed on the second day of your selected time frame and its cycle time was longer than the majority of other tasks that were included on the scatterplot, its position will be in the upper left corner of the chart.

Cycle Time Scatterplot chart

Hovering over each dot will provide you with basic information about the card (ID, done date, cycle time). Selecting a marker is going to freeze the popup on your screen and allow you to go through information about that particular task. Clicking on the dot inside will lead to the appearance of a new window. It contains more specific data about the card (title, assignee, priority, etc.), how many days it spent in a blocked state, when the assignment was included in the workflow, and how much time was required to go through each stage.

detailed cycle time breakdown in Kanbanize report

*Selecting the ID number will open the card in a new window of your browser. To close the popups, just double click anywhere on the chart.

The second graphic located below the scatterplot serves as a navigator. It allows you to zoom in and out of a specific interval within the selected time frame for a better view of the data that was included in the chart above. Once you have chosen the frame (e.g. 5 days), just slide it left or right to navigate across the larger time period that you have selected for the scatterplot.

Predict How Many Tasks Will Be Done in “X” Days 

By now, you have probably noticed the percentiles on the right side of the top chart. They are the key to predicting how long it will take for future assignments to be completed. The height of each percentile depends on the position of dots on your chart. The 50th percentile is at the number of days it took half of the visualized assignments to be completed. This way, when you assume how long it would take for a future task to go through all the stages of your workflow, you can be 50% sure that it will happen in “x” number of days. The logic here is simple – higher percentile means a greater chance of completing the assignment within this time frame.

Cycle time preview for a task

For those who would like to customize the visualization of the data presented in the scatterplot based on the distribution of various teams or other criteria, there is the option of changing the color of the dots depending on task priority, assignee, size, type and so on. Choose to apply various colors to color code your scatterplot using the filters panel, located on the right side of the chart.

A common scenario would be to give each card type a distinguishable color, so that you can see, on average, how long does it take for a specific type of assignment to be completed.

Customized scatterplot chart

Customize your ScatterPlot Flexibly 

Changing the color of your markers is just a fragment of the flexibility that the chart’s filters provide. Starting from the top of the menu, the first filter allows you to configure what information you wish to display. Once again you can choose among various card criteria like priority, assignee, size, color, custom fields, etc. On the right side of each criterium, you can see the number of cards that fall into that category and will be displayed on the chart. This can help you zero in on a specific category of tasks and give you more accurate information about the way this category of task behave.

Scatterplot chart filters

For example, if you are a fan of the annual performance report, the cycle time scatterplot is a perfect choice for displaying performance. For this purpose, you just need to filter the information by assignee and select the desired time frame.

Let’s see how long it took Monica to complete her assignments on the marketing board in the last month. From the left-side panel, we set the time frame to cover the days between January 3rd and February 3rd, then we filter the visualized results to display just Monica’s tasks, not those of the other team members. This way, we can see that it took her four days or less to complete 50% of the tasks that were assigned to her. So there is a 50% chance that, if she is assigned a task, it will be done in four days. If you want to make a prediction with even more certainty, you can say that, with  98% probability, she will be able to complete any task in 44 days.

A filtered data view of a cycle time scatter plot

This filter makes it possible for you to include and exclude stages of your workflow depending on your needs by marking the ones you want to see with checkmarks.

Summary statistics on a scatterplot

The “Blocked Items” filter is a simple way to distinguish tasks that had issues and required a certain amount of time to be resolved. You can highlight them in red by placing a checkmark in the respective field and including/excluding the blocked time in the overall cycle time of the card.

Blocked task highlighted

The next two filters allow you to change the displayed information on the side of each axis upon hovering over a dot. The Date/Throughput option allows you to see the number of tasks that were completed on any given day at the top of the chart. This can be very handy when you’ve got a large number of markers concentrated in a small area and can’t distinguish the throughput of each day. On the other hand, selecting Cycle Time/Percentile cursor visualization helps you predict future timelines for task completion based on a single marker on the scatterplot.

Lastly, you can export the information from your cycle time scatterplot in a .png format to share with people outside of Kanbanize or in order to include it in a report, by selecting “Save as Image” at the bottom of the filters panel.

If you wish to see the cycle time scatterplot in action, don’t hesitate and contact our sales team to request a free demo.

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