Product management glosary

Lead Time

What is Lead Time?

Lead time is a term used in product management that refers to the amount of time it takes for a product to be manufactured and delivered to the customer. It is the time between the initiation of a product order and the delivery of the finished product to the customer.

Understanding Lead Time

Lead time is an important metric in product management as it helps businesses plan their production and delivery schedules. It is calculated by adding the time it takes to manufacture the product, the time it takes to transport it, and any other delays that may occur during the process.

Lead time can vary depending on the type of product being manufactured and the complexity of the production process. For example, a simple product like a t-shirt may have a lead time of a few days, while a complex product like a car may have a lead time of several months.

Why is Lead Time Important?

Lead time is important for several reasons:

  • Customer satisfaction: A shorter lead time means customers receive their products faster, which can lead to higher customer satisfaction and repeat business.
  • Inventory management: A longer lead time means businesses need to hold more inventory to meet customer demand, which can increase costs and reduce profitability.
  • Production planning: Knowing the lead time for a product allows businesses to plan their production schedules and allocate resources more effectively.

Reducing Lead Time

Reducing lead time can be a challenge, but there are several strategies businesses can use to achieve this:

  • Streamline production: Simplifying the production process can reduce the time it takes to manufacture a product.
  • Improve logistics: Optimizing transportation and delivery processes can reduce the time it takes to transport a product to the customer.
  • Reduce delays: Identifying and addressing delays in the production process can help reduce lead time.


Lead time is an important metric in product management that can impact customer satisfaction, inventory management, and production planning. By understanding lead time and implementing strategies to reduce it, businesses can improve their operations and increase profitability.