What’s the Difference Between Cycle Time, TAKT Time, and Lead Time?

What’s the Difference Between Cycle Time, TAKT Time, and Lead Time?


Last updated September 12, 2018


When developing project plans, project managers want to optimize resources, workflow, and the time it will take to complete the project. Understanding the difference between TAKT Time, Cycle Time, and Lead Time are important Lean processes that are crucial for Six Sigma and Project Management candidates alike.

Cycle Time vs. Lead Time

A lot of practitioners tend to confuse Cycle Time with Lead Time. Some people say Cycle Time is the time between two successive deliveries, while others believe it is the time between initiation and delivery.

In simple terms, Cycle time is the time starting when an operation begins to the point of time when the operation ends. Then what is Lead Time?

Lead time starts when a request is initiated and ends with delivery. Let’s say a customer orders a product on November 6. The company receives the order instantly, and delivers the product on November 10, yet work on the product begins November 8.

Therefore, the Lead Time here is 4 days, while the Cycle Time is 2 days. Lead time represents the time expended—but not the effort. You could have a Lead Time of 25 days yet spend only 2 hours working to solve the problem or create the product.

At first glance, Cycle Time may appear to represent effort, but it represents time, as well. That’s why cutting cycle time should be the most important mantra for any Continuous Improvement project.

Related reading: Quality Management in Project Management



In German, TAKT stands for Takzeit, meaning Music or Rhythm of Music. TAKT is a measurement and a discipline based on known and existing production principles and practices. TAKT time is the maximum acceptable time to meet the demands of the customer. In other words, TAKT Time is the speed with which the product needs to be created in order to satisfy the needs of the customer.

The TAKT Time Formula = (Net Time Available for Production)/(Customer’s Daily Demand).

Let’s consider this example from the service industry: Accounting forms are read by a company’s staff and returned to the customer. The company has a 9 hour workday for its employees, of which 1 hour is the allocated lunch break.

  • Available production time = 8 hours, or 480 minutes
  • Assume that the customer sends in 20 accounting forms to be read
  • TAKT Time Formula = 480/24 = 20 minutes/form

This means that the staff would have to work at a speed of 20 minutes per form in order to meet the customer’s needs or demands. This calculation makes several implicit assumptions, so let’s look at these first.

  • The above calculation doesn’t factor in work done in parallel, meaning that more than one person is working on the same form at the same time. To illustrate: Jane does step A of the work in 10 minutes, while Rodney does step B of the work in 5 minutes—in parallel. Then, Gigi reconciles the two pieces in 2 minutes. The TAKT Time per form in terms of delivery is 12 minutes.
  • TAKT Time assumes a constant daily demand during the day; if demand fluctuates during the day, TAKT Time needs to be adjusted.

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TAKT Time Calculator

Using the example above, we’ll assume that the accounting process adds a new step for a total of 4 steps, with actual cycle times indicated. Here’s how we’d calculate TAKT time:

  • Step A = 4 minutes
  • Step B = 5 minutes
  • Step C = 5 minutes
  • Reconciliation = 6 minutes

Add these up and you’ll find that on an average, the company staff spends 20 minutes to complete a form, meaning they’re right on target! If the staff is consistently able to maintain this rate of work, they’ll meet the customer’s needs.

TAKT Time is used to calculate a host of other parameters, too, such as Batch Size. Now, we’ll add up all the cycle times we had in the previous stage. We got a Total Cycle Time of 20 minutes; therefore, the TAKT Time is 20 minutes. Now:

Total Cycle Time/TAKT Time = 1

This calculation demonstrates that you now need 1 workstation to complete this order of 24 forms in a day of 480 possible minutes working to a TAKT of 20 minutes. This is often known as Crew Size.


Understanding Cycle Time, Lead Time, and TAKT Time is the first step for Project Managers and Lean practitioners to move one step closer to improve the efficiencies of their operations. Simplilearn offers complete training options for Project Management, Quality Management, and more. All our courses are taught by experienced, certified professionals, and they’re designed to help you pass your exams on the first try!

If you're interested in Quality Management, check out this course on Six Sigma.

Watch this video on Introduction to Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Certification Training

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About the Author

Eshna is a writer at Simplilearn. She has done Masters in Journalism and Mass Communication and is a Gold Medalist in the same. A voracious reader, she has penned several articles in leading national newspapers like TOI, HT and The Telegraph. She loves traveling and photography.

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