Cycle Time Analysis

Skill level: Intermediate


A cycle time analysis is any method that collects and analyzes time data for a process to improve the total process or system.


  • Easy to use
  • Identifies time required to complete specified tasks
  • Allows for easy identification of process improvements and efficiencies

How to Use

  • Step 1.  Identify the process and detail the scope to be studied.
  • Step 2.  Map the process.
  • Step 3.  Take several time measurements at varying points.
  • Step 4.  Study the process between measuring points to determine if there is wasted time.
  • Step 5.  Analyze the data.
  • Step 6.  Make changes as needed.

Relevant Definitions

Cycle time: A measure of the time (minutes, hours, seconds) required for a certain number of steps in a process to be completed, from start to finish, as defined by the team.


A process improvement team seeks to improve the waiting time for customers in a bank. The team begins by determining the scope of the project: the process starts from customer entry (arrival time) to customer exit (departure time).
The team next maps the process.

In order to achieve a baseline, the team establishes points on the process map to measure. Recording the time it takes for the customer to move from one point to another, the team reviews the data collected and determines that there is a lot of time between the customer entering and beginning to wait for a teller.

Analyzing this section in more detail and collecting more time data, the team determines that the paperwork that must be completed before the teller can take the next customer requires an excessive amount of time. This becomes the area of focus for an improvement project.


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