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Issue cycle time

Issue cycle time is defined as the amount of time work has spent in the ‘in progress’ status, as defined by your issue tracker settings in Swarmia. This calculation is the same across all different issue types.


The average cycle time of an issue is calculated by taking all of the cycle times shown in the given time frame and providing the average.

Swarmia doesn't differentiate between work time and off-time in cycle time calculations. That is, weekends count as cycle time, as do non-business hours of the day.


If a Jira story was moved to ‘in progress’ on a Monday and then moved to ‘done’ by Friday, it would have a cycle time of 5 days.

Let’s say there were 6 stories in the last 30 days with cycle times of 5 days, 4 days, 10 days, 2 days, 8 days, and 9 days. You would see an average cycle time of 6.3 days for that time period.

More complex status histories are also accounted for. For example, if you work on an issue for one week, but then your priorities change, and that work is postponed for three months. You then start working on it again and finish it after one week. With this history, the issue will have a cycle time of two weeks, not 3½ months, as long as the issue was moved out of the ‘in progress’ status for the three-month break.

Why it matters

The longer an issue is open, the more your cost of delay increases. Additionally, the longer an item is open, the more context is lost and the greater the risk of quality issues.

Faster cycle times ensure the work is broken down small enough to provide high quality and high value to the customer. A consistent cycle time makes predicting the delivery of work easier as well.

How to use it

High cycle times could indicate that the work needs to be broken down into smaller pieces. It could also indicate that there is some kind of bottleneck holding up your issues from completion that you might want to drill into further to understand. Once you have a predictable issue cycle time, it’s much easier to plan work and also spot outliers that you need to take action on. 

Read this blog post for more concrete tips on tackling typical problems with issue cycle time.

Where to find it

You can find issue cycle time in several parts of Swarmia, wherever issues are mentioned.