Tracking lead-times using color coding

Up until yesterday we tracked lead-times on our Kanban-board by noting the dates that a feature entered each of the columns. This causes problems since some project members doesn’t yet have the discipline to write down the date when they pull a feature, and it also mean we have to account for weekends, holidays and so on when calculating the lead-time.

As of yesterday, our Kanban board has a colored marker at the top of each column. During the standup meeting each morning a team member or two makes a small mark on each feature using a pencil the same color as the color of the column it’s currently in. This makes it very easy to see how long a feature’s taken to move through the entire process, and by looking at the colors we can see how long it’s been in each stage which of course helps us optimize the process.

We use whiteboard markers to make the mark at the columns, and colored pencils to mark each feature-card, so you don’t have to run off and buy a bunch of magnets or anything. It’s real easy to implement, and I’m quite proud of having such a simple idea that can (and hopefully will) have such a large impact on planning and estimating :)

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