The most fundamental lean measurement is cycle time: how long—on the average—does it take to go from concept to cash or from customer order to deployed software? This single measurement provides a system-level gauge of your process capability. In addition, it exposes every waste in the system: Every missing skill, weak capability, and defective implementation increases cycle time.
The objective of a development organization is to first of all establish a repeatable, reliable cycle time for each classification of work, and then to reduce that cycle time through continuous improvement. This single measurement drives all manner of good behavior in every area of the organization, because it aligns everyone in making the right tradeoffs.
From the Book Implementing Lean Software Development: From Concept to Cash, 2007, ISBN 0321437381
Copyright © 2007 by Pearson Education, Inc.