Cycle time is basically the time expended on finishing a process or operation. In other words, it’s the actual time needed to complete a task. For example, a tailor may seek a couple of days time from the customer to stitch and deliver a shirt. But in practice, he may only need three hours to work on and alter the piece of cloth as per the customer’s requirements. The three hours therefore is the tailor’s cycle time; two days requested represent customer time or lead time.

Reduced cycle time means decreased costs and increased production capability. Generally, cycle time is the total time taken for an item to enter a particular department or process and exit the area.