Importance of user story cycle time cannot be over emphasised within Scrum.
Why is it so important?
It gives us useful insights into several aspects of how the team practices scrum. In fact it can be the one single indicator for agile maturity of the team (?)
Cycle time in the context of a user story would be days between team starts implementing a story and when it is “done”. Is it OK to complete most or all of the stories in last 1-2 days of the sprint?
Lesser the cycle time, the better it is.
What are the factors impacting it:
1. Well groomed story
A story well groomed means it adheres to INVEST principles – appropriately sized and “ready” to be taken up for development. This means there is less likelihood of serious queries / dependencies impeding the story completion within the sprint.
2. Story WIP is limited within a sprint
The team starts with few stories when the sprint starts and as and when the stories close the other story (ies) from the sprint backlog are taken up for implementation. Team has consciously worked on how many stories it wants to be “ongoing” at any point with a sprint. Thus the team works on a few stories and completes them within a few days. What this implies is that more than one developer works on a story and collaborate actively to complete the story – which leads to our next point.
3. Team swarm to complete stories
4. Sound CI infrastructure
Ability to build and deploy builds across environments is the key to smooth flow of stories towards completion. “Merge discipline” of the developers will avoid late integration challenges.
5. Team builds “quality in”
Story does not spend time going back and froth between testing and development.
A line graph of how the cycle time is evolving across the sprints will throw interesting insights into team’s maturity.