Value Stream Analytics

Introduced in GitLab 12.9 for groups.

Value Stream Analytics measures the time spent to go from an idea to production (also known as cycle time) for each of your projects or groups. Value Stream Analytics displays the median time spent in each stage defined in the process.

Value Stream Analytics can help you quickly determine the velocity of a given group. It points to bottlenecks in the development process, enabling management to uncover, triage, and identify the root cause of slowdowns in the software development life cycle.

For information on how to contribute to the development of Value Stream Analytics, see our contributor documentation.

To view group-level Value Stream Analytics:

  1. On the top bar, select Menu > Groups and find your group.
  2. On the left sidebar, select Analytics > Value stream.

Value Stream Analytics at the group level includes data for the selected group and its subgroups.

Project-level Value Stream Analytics is also available.

Default stages

The stages tracked by Value Stream Analytics by default represent the GitLab flow. These stages can be customized in Group Level Value Stream Analytics.

  • Issue (Tracker)
    • Time to schedule an issue (by milestone or by adding it to an issue board)
  • Plan (Board)
    • Time to first commit
  • Code (IDE)
    • Time to create a merge request
  • Test (CI)
    • Time it takes GitLab CI/CD to test your code
  • Review (Merge Request/MR)
    • Time spent on code review
  • Staging (Continuous Deployment)
    • Time between merging and deploying to production

Filter the analytics data

Introduced in GitLab 13.3

GitLab provides the ability to filter analytics based on the following parameters:

  • Milestones (Group level)
  • Labels (Group level)
  • Author
  • Assignees

To filter results:

  1. Select a group.
  2. Click on the filter bar.
  3. Select a parameter to filter by.
  4. Select a value from the autocompleted results, or type to refine the results.

Value stream analytics filter bar

Date ranges

Introduced in GitLab 12.4.

GitLab provides the ability to filter analytics based on a date range. Data is shown for workflow items created during the selected date range. To filter results:

  1. Select a group.
  2. Optionally select a project.
  3. Select a date range using the available date pickers.

Upcoming date filter change

In the epics, we plan to alter the date filter behavior to filter the end event time of the currently selected stage.

The change makes it possible to get a much better picture about the completed items within the stage and helps uncover long-running items.

For example, an issue was created a year ago and the current stage was finished in the current month. If you were to look at the metrics for the last three months, this issue would not be included in the calculation of the stage metrics. With the new date filter, this item would be included.

This page contains information related to upcoming products, features, and functionality. It is important to note that the information presented is for informational purposes only. Please do not rely on this information for purchasing or planning purposes. As with all projects, the items mentioned on this page are subject to change or delay. The development, release, and timing of any products, features, or functionality remain at the sole discretion of GitLab Inc.

How metrics are measured

DORA API-based deployment metrics for group-level Value Stream Analytics were moved from GitLab Ultimate to GitLab Premium in 14.3.

The “Time” metrics near the top of the page are measured as follows:

  • Lead time: median time from issue created to issue closed.
  • Cycle time: median time from first commit to issue closed. (You can associate a commit with an issue by crosslinking in the commit message.)
  • Lead Time for Changes: median time between when a merge request is merged and deployed to a production environment for all merge requests deployed in the given time period. Introduced in GitLab 14.5.

  • Lead Time for Changes: median duration between merge request merge and deployment to a production environment for all MRs deployed in the given time period. Introduced in GitLab 14.5.

The “Recent Activity” metrics near the top of the page are measured as follows:

  • New Issues: the number of issues created in the date range.
  • Deploys: the number of deployments 1 to production 2 in the date range.
  • Deployment Frequency: the average number of deployments 1 to production 2 per day in the date range.
  1. To give a more accurate representation of deployments that actually completed successfully, the calculation for these two metrics changed in GitLab 13.9 from using the time a deployment was created to the time a deployment finished. If you were referencing this metric prior to 13.9, please keep this slight change in mind.
  2. To see deployment metrics, you must have a production environment configured.

You can learn more about these metrics in our analytics definitions.

Value stream analytics time metrics

How the stages are measured

Value Stream Analytics measures each stage from its start event to its end event. For example, a stage might start when one label is added to an issue, and end when another label is added. Value Stream Analytics excludes work in progress, meaning it ignores any items that have not reached the end event.

Each stage of Value Stream Analytics is further described in the table below.

Stage Description
Issue Measures the median time between creating an issue and taking action to solve it, by either labeling it or adding it to a milestone, whatever comes first. The label is tracked only if it already has an issue board list created for it.
Plan Measures the median time between the action you took for the previous stage, and pushing the first commit to the branch. The very first commit of the branch is the one that triggers the separation between Plan and Code, and at least one of the commits in the branch needs to contain the related issue number (for example, #42). If none of the commits in the branch mention the related issue number, it is not considered to the measurement time of the stage.
Code Measures the median time between pushing a first commit (previous stage) and creating a merge request (MR) related to that commit. The key to keep the process tracked is to include the issue closing pattern to the description of the merge request (for example, Closes #xxx, where xxx is the number of the issue related to this merge request). If the closing pattern is not present, then the calculation takes the creation time of the first commit in the merge request as the start time.
Test Measures the median time to run the entire pipeline for that project. It’s related to the time GitLab CI/CD takes to run every job for the commits pushed to that merge request defined in the previous stage. It is basically the start->finish time for all pipelines.
Review Measures the median time taken to review the merge request that has a closing issue pattern, between its creation and until it’s merged.
Staging Measures the median time between merging the merge request with a closing issue pattern until the very first deployment to a production environment. If there isn’t a production environment, this is not tracked.

How this works, behind the scenes:

  1. Issues and merge requests are grouped together in pairs, such that for each <issue, merge request> pair, the merge request has the issue closing pattern for the corresponding issue. All other issues and merge requests are not considered.
  2. Then the <issue, merge request> pairs are filtered out by last XX days (specified by the UI - default is 90 days). So it prohibits these pairs from being considered.
  3. For the remaining <issue, merge request> pairs, we check the information that we need for the stages, like issue creation date, merge request merge time, and so on.

To sum up, anything that doesn’t follow GitLab flow is not tracked and the Value Stream Analytics dashboard does not present any data for:

  • Merge requests that do not close an issue.
  • Issues not labeled with a label present in the issue board or for issues not assigned a milestone.
  • Staging stage, if the project has no production environment.

How the production environment is identified

Value Stream Analytics identifies production environments by looking for project environments with a name matching any of these patterns:

  • prod or prod/*
  • production or production/*

These patterns are not case-sensitive.

You can change the name of a project environment in your GitLab CI/CD configuration.

Example workflow

Below is an example workflow of a single cycle that happens in a single day through all noted stages. Note that if a stage does not include a start and a stop time, its data is not included in the median time. It is assumed that milestones are created and a CI for testing and setting environments is configured. a start and a stop mark, it is not measured and hence not calculated in the median time. It is assumed that milestones are created and CI for testing and setting environments is configured.

  1. Issue is created at 09:00 (start of Issue stage).
  2. Issue is added to a milestone at 11:00 (stop of Issue stage / start of Plan stage).
  3. Start working on the issue, create a branch locally and make one commit at 12:00.
  4. Make a second commit to the branch which mentions the issue number at 12.30 (stop of Plan stage / start of Code stage).
  5. Push branch and create a merge request that contains the issue closing pattern in its description at 14:00 (stop of Code stage / start of Test and Review stages).
  6. The CI starts running your scripts defined in .gitlab-ci.yml and takes 5min (stop of Test stage).
  7. Review merge request, ensure that everything is OK and merge the merge request at 19:00. (stop of Review stage / start of Staging stage).
  8. Now that the merge request is merged, a deployment to the production environment starts and finishes at 19:30 (stop of Staging stage).

From the above example you can conclude the time it took each stage to complete as long as their total time:

  • Issue: 2h (11:00 - 09:00)
  • Plan: 1h (12:00 - 11:00)
  • Code: 2h (14:00 - 12:00)
  • Test: 5min
  • Review: 5h (19:00 - 14:00)
  • Staging: 30min (19:30 - 19:00)

A few notes:

  • In the above example we demonstrated that it doesn’t matter if your first commit doesn’t mention the issue number, you can do this later in any commit of the branch you are working on.
  • You can see that the Test stage is not calculated to the overall time of the cycle, because it is included in the Review process (every MR should be tested).
  • The example above was just one cycle of the seven stages. Add multiple cycles, calculate their median time and the result is what the dashboard of Value Stream Analytics is showing.

Custom value streams

Introduced in GitLab 12.9.

The default stages are designed to work straight out of the box, but they might not be suitable for all teams. Different teams use different approaches to building software, so some teams might want to customize their Value Stream Analytics.

GitLab allows users to create multiple value streams, hide default stages and create custom stages that align better to their development workflow.

Stage path

Version history

Value stream path navigation

Stages are visually depicted as a horizontal process flow. Selecting a stage updates the content below the value stream.

The stage time is displayed next to the name of each stage, in the following format:

Symbol Description
m Minutes
h Hours
d Days
w Weeks
M Months

Hovering over a stage item displays a popover with the following information:

  • Start event description for the given stage
  • End event description
  • Median time items took to complete the stage
  • Number of items that completed the stage

Stream overview

Introduced in GitLab 13.11.

Value Stream Analytics Overview

The stream overview provides access to key metrics and charts summarizing all the stages in the value stream based on selected filters.

Shown metrics and charts includes:

Stage table

Sorting the stage table introduced in GitLab 13.12.

Value Stream Analytics Stage table

The stage table shows a list of related workflow items for the selected stage. This can include:

  • CI/CD jobs
  • Issues
  • Merge requests
  • Pipelines

A little badge next to the workflow items table header shows the number of workflow items that completed the selected stage.

The stage table also includes the Time column, which shows how long it takes each item to pass through the selected value stream stage.

The stage table is not displayed on the stream Overview. The workflow item column (first column) is ordered by end event.

To sort the stage table by a table column, select the table header. You can sort in ascending or descending order. To find items that spent the most time in a stage, potentially causing bottlenecks in your value stream, sort the table by the Time column. From there, select individual items to drill in and investigate how delays are happening. To see which items most recently exited the stage, sort by the work item column on the left.

The table displays 20 items per page. If there are more than 20 items, you can use the Prev and Next buttons to navigate through the pages.

Creating a value stream

Introduced in GitLab 13.3

A default value stream is readily available for each group. You can create additional value streams based on the different areas of work that you would like to measure.

Once created, a new value stream includes the seven stages that follow GitLab workflow best practices. You can customize this flow by adding, hiding or re-ordering stages.

To create a value stream:

  1. On the top bar, select Menu > Groups and find your group.
  2. On the left sidebar, select Analytics > Value Stream.
  3. In the top right, select the dropdown list and then Create new Value Stream.
  4. Enter a name for the new Value Stream.
  5. Select Create Value Stream.

New value stream

Creating a value stream with stages

Version history
caution
This feature might not be available to you. Check the version history note above for details.

You can create value streams with stages, starting with a default or a blank template. You can add stages as desired.

To create a value stream with stages:

  1. On the top bar, select Menu > Groups and find your group.
  2. On the left sidebar, select Analytics > Value Stream.
  3. In the top right, select the dropdown list and then Create new Value Stream.
  4. Select either Create from default template or Create from no template.
    • You can hide or re-order default stages in the value stream.

      Default stage actions

    • You can add new stages by selecting Add another stage.
    • You can select the name and start and end events for the stage.

      Custom stage actions

  5. Select Create Value Stream.

Label-based stages

The pre-defined start and end events can cover many use cases involving both issues and merge requests.

In more complex workflows, use stages based on group labels. These events are based on added or removed labels. In particular, scoped labels are useful for complex workflows.

In this example, we’d like to measure times for deployment from a staging environment to production. The workflow is the following:

  • When the code is deployed to staging, the workflow::staging label is added to the merge request.
  • When the code is deployed to production, the workflow::production label is added to the merge request.

Label Based Value Stream Analytics Stage

Editing a value stream

Introduced in GitLab 13.10.

After you create a value stream, you can customize it to suit your purposes. To edit a value stream:

  1. On the top bar, select Menu > Groups and find your group.
  2. On the left sidebar, select Analytics > Value Stream.
  3. In the top right, select the dropdown list and then select the relevant value stream.
  4. Next to the value stream dropdown, select Edit. The edit form is populated with the value stream details.
  5. Optional:
    • Rename the value stream.
    • Hide or re-order default stages.
    • Remove existing custom stages.
    • Add new stages by selecting the ‘Add another stage’ button
    • Select the start and end events for the stage.
  6. Optional. To undo any modifications, select Restore value stream defaults.
  7. Select Save Value Stream.

Deleting a value stream

Introduced in GitLab 13.4.

To delete a custom value stream:

  1. On the top bar, select Menu > Groups and find your group.
  2. On the left sidebar, select Analytics > Value Stream.
  3. In the top right, select the dropdown list and then select the value stream you would like to delete.
  4. Select Delete (name of value stream).
  5. To confirm, select Delete.

Delete value stream

Days to completion chart

Version history

This chart visually depicts the average number of days it takes for cycles to be completed.

This chart uses the global page filters for displaying data based on the selected group, projects, and time frame. In addition, specific stages can be selected from the chart itself.

The chart data is limited to the last 500 items.

Type of work - Tasks by type chart

Introduced in GitLab 12.10.

This chart shows a cumulative count of issues and merge requests per day.

This chart uses the global page filters for displaying data based on the selected group, projects, and time frame. The chart defaults to showing counts for issues but can be toggled to show data for merge requests and further refined for specific group-level labels.

By default the top group-level labels (max. 10) are pre-selected, with the ability to select up to a total of 15 labels.

Permissions

To access Group-level Value Stream Analytics, users must have at least the Reporter role.

You can read more about permissions in general.

More resources

Learn more about Value Stream Analytics in the following resources: