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Home > docs > playbooks > metrics > WIP

Alexis Dixon , Bryan Finster , Nathan Nicholson , Preston Gibbs


Work in Process (WIP) is the total work that has been started but not completed. This includes all work, defects, tasks, stories, etc.

What is the intended behavior?

Teams should limit WIP and work together to complete WIP items in preference to starting new work. Use WIP limits to identify and exploit constraints in the Development Cycle Time.

How is it improved?

  • The team should focus on finishing items closest to being ready for production.
  • Set and do not exceed WIP limits for the team and for each step.
    • WIP limit guidance: 2N-1 where N is the number of team members capable of doing the work.
  • Keep the Kanban board visible at all times.

How is it gamed?

  • Teams can update incomplete work to “done” before all quality steps have been completed.
  • Reduce the pace of starting new work without focusing on helping to complete WIP.

Guardrail Metrics

The following metrics could degrade if not tracked with this metric