What is merge time?

Engineering Metrics

Oct 11, 2023

In the dynamic realm of software engineering, metrics are the compass that navigates the vast ocean of processes, guiding teams towards optimization and excellence. Among these guiding stars, merge time shines brightly, offering a glimpse into the efficiency of the engineering process. But to truly appreciate its significance, one must understand its position within the broader spectrum of engineering metrics.

The Essence of Cycle Time

Before delving deep into merge time, it's pivotal to understand cycle time. Cycle time encapsulates the entire journey from the moment a developer initiates a task to its culmination and delivery to the end user. It's a holistic reflection of the software development process, capturing various stages and components.

The Anatomy of Cycle Time

Cycle time, in the realm of software engineering, is a mosaic of several integral pieces:

  1. Coding Time: The phase where lines of code are meticulously crafted.

  2. Review Time: The interval where the code undergoes rigorous code review by team members.

  3. Testing Time: The span dedicated to ensuring code quality through rigorous tests.

  4. Merge Time: The crucial period between a pull request's approval and its integration into the main codebase.

Merge Time Demystified

Merge time, often overlooked, is the time lapse between the approval of a pull request and its eventual merge into the primary codebase. Its importance is multi-faceted:

  1. Operational Efficiency: Extended merge times can hint at bottlenecks in the engineering process, possibly due to CI/CD challenges, unforeseen code alterations, or administrative lags.

  2. Code Integrity: A swift merge time is often synonymous with impeccable code quality. If the code aligns with the engineering team's standards, it's poised for a faster merge.

  3. Team Dynamics: Merge time can also be a barometer for the team's cohesion and decision-making prowess.

The Implications of Merge Time

  1. Stakeholder Alignment: For stakeholders, every tick of the clock matters. Delays in merging can ripple out, affecting business goals and customer satisfaction.

  2. Developer Morale: Prolonged merge times can stifle developer productivity. A waiting game for code merges can disrupt their workflow and dampen enthusiasm.

  3. Continuous Improvement: By keeping a close eye on merge time, engineering leaders can pinpoint and address bottlenecks, fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

The Panorama of Engineering Metrics

Merge time, while pivotal, is a single facet of the multifaceted gem of engineering metrics. True engineering productivity is a symphony of metrics, from pull requests, benchmarks, kpis, story points, to lines of code. Dashboards, in this context, are invaluable, offering a visual tableau of these metrics, aiding engineering leaders in informed decision-making and optimization.

BuildPulse: Your Beacon in the World of Metrics

To harness the full potential of merge time and other engineering metrics, a robust tool is indispensable. This is where BuildPulse Engineering Metrics comes into play. It delves deep into engineering productivity metrics, from pull requests, code review, lead time, to the nuances of merge time. With its intuitive dashboards and granular insights, BuildPulse equips engineering teams to streamline their workflow, align with business initiatives, and deliver unparalleled value.


Merge time, though a singular metric, casts a long shadow on the broader engineering process. It offers insights into the efficiency, quality, and agility of the engineering organization. By understanding and honing merge time, teams can elevate their productivity, foster a culture of excellence, and drive continuous improvement. And with powerhouses like BuildPulse Engineering Metrics at their disposal, the path to engineering brilliance becomes not just insightful but transformative.


What is the difference between a flaky test and a false positive?

A false positive is a test failure in your test suite due to an actual error in the code being executed, or a mismatch in what the test expects from the code.

A flaky test is when you have conflicting test results for the same code. For example, while running tests if you see that a test fails and passes, but the code hasn’t changed, then it’s a flaky test. There’s many causes of flakiness.

What is an example of a flaky test?

An example can be seen in growing test suites - when pull request builds fail for changes you haven’t made. Put differently, when you see a test pass and fail without any code change. These failed tests are flaky tests.

What are common causes of flakiness?

Broken assumptions in test automation and development process can introduce flaky tests - for example, if test data is shared between different tests whether asynchronous, high concurrency, or sequential, the results of one test can affect another. 

Poorly written test code can also be a factor. Improper polling, race conditions, improper event dependency handling, shared test data, or timeout handling for network requests or page loads. Any of these can lead to flaky test failures and test flakiness.

End-to-end tests that rely on internal API uptime can cause test flakiness and test failures.

What's the impact of flaky tests?

Flaky tests can wreck havoc on the development process - from wasted developer time from test retries, to creating bugs and product instability and missed releases, time-consuming flaky tests can grind your development process to a halt.

What is the best way to resolve or fix flaky tests?

Devops, software engineering, and software development teams will often need to compare code changes, logs, and other context across test environments from before the test instability started, and after - adding retries or reruns can also help with debugging. Test detection and test execution tooling can help automate this process as well. 

BuildPulse enables you to find, assess impact metrics, quarantine, and fix flaky tests.

What are some strategies for preventing flaky tests?

Paying attention and prioritizing flaky tests as they come up can be a good way to prevent them from becoming an issue. This is where a testing culture is important - if a flaky test case is spotted by an engineer, it should be logged right away. This, however, takes a certain level of hygiene - BuildPulse can provide monitoring so flaky tests are caught right away.

What type of tests have flaky tests?

Flaky tests can be seen across the testing process - unit tests, integration tests, end-to-end tests, UI tests, acceptance tests.

What if I don't have that many flaky tests?

Flaky tests can be stealthy - often ignored by engineers and test runs are retried, they build up until they can’t be ignored anymore. These automated tests slow down developer productivity, impact functionality, and reduce confidence in test results and test suites. Better to get ahead while it’s easy and invest in test management.

It’s also important to prevent regressions to catch flakiness early while it’s manageable.

What languages and continuous integration providers does BuildPulse work with?

BuildPulse integrates with all continuous integration providers (including GitHub Actions, BitBucket Pipelines, and more), test frameworks, and workflows.

Combat non-determinism, drive test confidence, and provide the best experience you can to your developers!

How long does implementation/integration with BuildPulse take?

Implementation/integration takes 5 minutes!

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