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Throughput in Kanban: A Metric to Boost Team Performance

The Throughput Histogram is a valuable tool for identifying a team's average throughput with a certain probability based on past data. Learn more here.

Your team's throughput is a key indicator in Kanban, showing whether your process is productive or not. Although the number of analytics tools that measure it increases by the day, there is hardly a simpler way to track and visualize throughput than the histogram.

The Throughput Metric

Histograms have been the preferred method by project managers for data visualization. Their greatest benefit is the ability to visualize the shape of your data and to prove that it is or is not evenly distributed. With the help of histograms, you can monitor basic information about the dataset, such as the overall distribution of the assignments that are being displayed.

Throughput is one of the most important Kanban metrics. Therefore, improving it is a major goal for leaders practicing Lean and Agile project management. By definition, throughput is the number of items passing through a system or process. Together with WIP (work in progress) and cycle time, they constitute the Little’s Law to describe the predictability of movement inside a queue. The law is usually stated as:

Throughput = WIP divided by cycle time.

This is also a good formula to use when you want to determine your WIP limits.

What Is a Throughput Histogram?

Simply put, the throughput histogram chart aims to visually represent your team's productivity in the past. It is measured by the number of finished tasks each day and how long it took for this to happen.ActionableAgile ™ throughput histogram in Kanbanize analytics moduleThe vertical axis shows the number of days that had a certain throughput. The horizontal axis on the projected histogram represents the actual throughput as a number of work items completed. Each column contains the number of days that had the same throughput. The different columns' height depends on the number of days that fall into it as a category.

Throughput histograms allow you to:

  • Apply filters
  • Choose periods
  • Exclude different data such as priority, assignee, card color, etc.

How to Make the Best of your Analytics?

Kanban applies the build-measure-learn cycle, where analysis plays a key role. This is why every manager needs to be aware of the key metrics to track and consistently gather data of the KPIs. Comparing results with previous periods is valuable knowledge and could play a crucial role on a strategic level.

The throughput histogram is easy to understand and simple to present to stakeholders. With the filters' help, you can visualize precisely what you wish to examine and be very specific when monitoring, tracking, and sharing it. To get the full picture of your process, monitor throughput project histograms, along with cycle time histograms and throughput run charts.

In Summary

The Throughput Histogram is one of the most useful analytical tools you will need to track your Lean metrics.

  • It provides visualization of the throughput data distribution.
  • Throughput histograms help you identify productivity and efficiency issues.
  • Tracking throughput will enable you to act to maintain a stable workflow.

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