What is lead time? | Basic concepts


Lead time is the time it takes for a product/request to go through all the steps of a process. Improve your lead time by following a few simple tips.


Lead time is the time it takes for a request/task to go through all the steps of a process.

You can improve an activity’s lead time by defining a SLA (service level agreement) for this activity, specifying the maximum time limit for things to be done.

Think about that famous pizza place that promises to deliver pizzas in 30 minutes or less. The same goes for solving a customer ticket in less than 24h, delivering a product in under 2 days, etc.

Why track and improve your lead time?

The faster you deliver things to your customers, the more competitive you become. The more regular and stable your lead time is, the more your customers will rely on you. It’s that simple.

To improve an activity’s deadline you’ll need not only to measure it but also look for ways to perform each of the steps more efficiently, from top to bottom.

It’s a cumulative effect: if you save a couple of hours in step A, a couple more in step B, at the end of your process you’ll have saved the sum of all these hours.

How to improve your lead time?

  • Start measuring your process’ lead time to have a defined metric to track your improvement;
  • Break your process’ down into steps and measure each of their lead times separately as well, to discover if your process has bottlenecks and what are them;
  • Create standard operating procedures to teach your team how execute the process better;
  • Add checklists and workflow rules to prevent mistakes from happening;
  • Reduce rework by avoiding unnecessary steps or asking for information you won’t need;
  • Provide your team with everything they need to execute their job. This will cut down the time they’ll stay paused waiting for approvals or lacking resources;
  • Automate as many operational tasks as you can;
  • Check if your overall deliveries’ lead time is stable (it should be).

How can Pipefy help you manage your lead time?This is how we manage lead times on Pipefy: by visually showing which cards are on time, late or expired. Bonus: you can also see how long ago a card has been created and how long it has stayed in each phase.

You’re able to set two types of SLA (service level agreements):

    • Late alert – it establishes how much time a card can stay on a specific phase of your process;
    • Expired Alert -it establishes how much time a card can stay on a specific phase of your process.

Dominos example, with pizzas:
Late alerts: 5 min on assembling, 10 min oven time and 10 min for delivery.
Expired alert: The pizza should be assembled, baked and delivered in less than 30 min;

Sales Pipeline:
Late alerts: 3 days on making proposal, 20 days on negotiation.
Expired alert: 60 days to close a deal.

This is just one of the many reasons why Pipefy can make your team 3x faster. Start using Pipefy today and see for yourself!

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