Agile PMs Guide To Leads And Lags In Project Management

Agile PMs Guide To Leads And Lags In Project Management

Leads and lags in project management are simpler concepts as compared to the other concepts in the market. But if you are just starting off, this might be very confusing for you, majorly when used as a network diagram, etc.  

The market requests and business needs are noticeably growing and expanded continuously over the decade. This growth is causing technological advancement in the industry.  

Over the decades, there have been substantial technological advancements because of which the market requests and business needs have expanded. Projects are created when a customer comes to you with specific needs and to meet regulatory requirements. Businesses use particular methods for the development of project management. They also take the initiative to create a strong project schedule because doing so would streamline and standardize how the operations are carried out. 

Now, this is where the Leads and Lags come in a project. These are the building blocks and most crucial parts of going about any project.  

Let’s decode your confusion in this blog post. Starting with what leads and lags are… 

What is Lead Time? 

Lead time is the amount of time needed to accomplish a project once it starts. For instance, an online retailer may guarantee a latency of two business days when you place an order. Although advance time may be estimated if anything goes wrong or the goal changes, lead time may diverge from the prediction if there is no plan in place to address the problem. Customer support will need to submit a claim and locate you a substitute if your online order is stolen, which extends the lead time. 

What Is Lead In Project Management? 

In project management, lead refers to the completion of a finished, one-time project or a significant component of a project. Workflows based on Kanban frequently employ it. The lead time would span all three of the columns on a board that utilizes the headings “To Do,” “Work in Progress,” and “Work Waiting for Next Steps.” The clock begins to accumulate lead time as soon as the assignment is introduced to the board. 

It’s important to note the differences between lead time and cycle time because they are sometimes confused in Kanban project management. Cycle time is a measurement of how long it takes to finish a job when someone starts working on it. The cycle time in the aforementioned example would span the columns labeled “Work in Progress” and “Work Waiting for Next Steps.” Cycle time, in contrast to lead time, does not start as the job is posted to the board. Instead, it begins once the task is completed. 

What is lag? 

There is a lag between tasks or time. You probably already know what this phrase means if you’ve ever had a sluggish internet connection. Lag is sometimes positive, and it frequently keeps you from progressing to the next stage of your project. For instance, you can encounter a situation in an online multiplayer game where your actions never finish or you unexpectedly teleport to a location where your character was only a few minutes earlier (often called rubber-banding). This is referred to as “lag,” and it nearly always works against your objectives. 

What is a lag in project management? 

When one or more activities that are dependent on one another are delayed by a mistake along the process, this is known as a lag in project management. The others have to wait until the problem is resolved before continuing when one is interrupted. If you don’t have a backup plan in place beforehand, delays in project management might result in missed deadlines and financial problems. 

Some reasons to schedule a lag are; 

Resource Limitations:  

Resource Limitations:  For instance, a delay in a construction project would result from awaiting a supply of timber. 

Physical Constraints: 

Physical restrictions include problems with access, the necessity for accessory projects to be finished before moving on to the next stage of a project, and drying or setting times. 

Pending Date or Event:  

Occasionally, undertakings revolve around particular dates or occasions. A project schedule management might have to plan a lag to account for a circumstance or hold off until a phase start date is authorized. 

Plus, signs are used to illustrate lags in network diagrams because they demonstrate the addition of time. Hours, days, or weeks may be referred to as lag time. Any period of time that must pass between a successor activity and a predecessor activity is referred to as a lag. 

What are Leads and Lags in Project Management Used for? 

Leads and lags are processes that can be used in sequence activities, control, and develop the schedule, according to PMBOK. Leads and lags demonstrate the degree of flexibility—or lack of its use in the scheduling of activities while taking into account the logical relationships. The precedence diagramming technique, for example, is used to identify and rank logical links. 

Network Diagrams Using Leads and Lags 

Network diagrams are used by schedulers, coordinators, and managers to show the connections or relationships between the various project stages. To improve your scheduling process, diagrams may be a great tool for modeling operations and identifying leads and lags. Network diagrams, often known as the precedence diagramming technique, let schedulers examine possible leads and lags to find logical relationships. 

There are 4 types of relationships precedence diagrams: 

  • FS – Finish to Start Relationship
  • SS – Start to Start Relationship
  • FF – Finish to Finish Relationship
  • SF – Start to Finish Relationship

FS – Finish to Start Relationship 

One action must be finished before the next can start, which is known as a finish to start a relationship. A good illustration of this would be to wait two days for the plaster to set before painting. 

SS – Start to Start Relationship 

The predecessor action must start before the successor activity can occur in a start-to-start relationship. For instance, experts might need to wait until they’ve started an air quality test before they combine chemicals. 

FF – Finish to Finish Relationship 

The second action in this connection must be finished before it may come to an end. For instance, fracking might not be done until the pressure test is over. This is finish to finish the relationship. 

SF – Start to Finish Relationship 

The start to finish relationship is the final sort of logical relationship. In this unusual situation, the predecessor action cannot start until the successor activity is finished. For instance, a site might not be able to complete an inspection until the first customer evaluation has begun. 

Leads Vs Lags in Project Management 

  • The Lead Time is a head start on completing the tasks. The Lead Time is equivalent to the “saved” time. 
  • The Lag Time is a delay in carrying out the tasks. 

Leads are the projected time it will take to complete something, whereas Lags are the distance a job or project phase has traveled after it has begun. On a practical level, the fundamental distinction is that, although the Lag Time is only a record of what happened, the Lead Time may also impact performance. 

A lead may contain many lags, but lags do not account for leads. Leads quantify what may be, while lags quantify what is. 

Lead and Lag Indicators in Project Management? 

If you have a series of ongoing activities or projects, you may compare previous lead and lag indications to identify patterns, make improvements, and continue to improve. 

As a result, while discussing continuous improvement, lead and lag time are two critical variables. When a project team evaluates the Lead and Lag of other projects on which it has worked, the team may better understand its own strong and weak points. 

In project management, lead and lag indicators support performance evaluation. You may compare your lead and lag indicators to discover what worked well and what could have been improved. Above all, Lead and Lag periods are utilized to determine what has to be addressed. 

Lag Indicators 

Estimating results and outputs are a common topic for project managers. Why? Because they are precise and simple to measure? We simply check them to determine how many sales have been made for the current month. It is also critical for Project Managers to be aware of the number of catastrophes that have occurred in the production and to examine the accident log. These are symptoms of lag. They are a post-event estimation; important for chart progression but useless when attempting to influence what is to come. 

To have an influence on the future, a different type of estimation is necessary, one that is predictive rather than reactive. For example, if the project team needs to enhance revenue, a predictive metric may include making more deal calls or improving marketing efforts. If the project team intends to reduce accidents in the processing plant for the safety of all personnel by requiring them to wear hard hats on a consistent basis. Estimating these activities provides us with a plethora of early warning flags. They are predictive in-process measurements. 

Lead Indicators 

In every scenario, lead indicators are more difficult to determine than lag indicators. They are predictive and, as such, do not guarantee success. This not only makes it difficult to determine which lead indications to employ, but it also raises questions about the measure’s validity in general. To add to the debate, lead indicators sometimes demand speculators to conduct an activity before an outcome is seen by a lag indicator. 


On a network diagram, a successor activity’s lead is represented by a negative number. When scheduling activities, using lead times will speed up the completion of a set of tasks. 

A lag is a necessary delay in the commencement of the subsequent action, which must be planned correctly. In a network diagram, it is represented by a positive number. 

Leads and lags in project management make use of interdependence between tasks that extend beyond finish-to-start links. As a result, they are crucial strategies for correct and effective activity scheduling, schedule optimization, and determining a critical route. 



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