12 Key Software Development Metrics & KPIs for Measuring Productivity

12 Key Software Development Metrics & KPIs for Measuring Productivity

23 February 2022 • 14 min read

The effectiveness of your software development teamwork is a critical point for any product development and business growth. Thus, it is vital to use the right software development metrics and measurements to estimate the results of the dev team and figure out ways to improve the work process. However, often when measuring software productivity comes up, many companies back off.

Why? Some do not see the need for software productivity measurement because they "believe" that theirs is top-notch. Others would wish to measure their productivity, but they barely know how.

Mature businesses recognize the necessity to measure productivity in software development and consider it as a matter of obligation. However, there is more to measuring software development and productivity than routines.

Let’s look at software development metrics that companies use most frequently and find out why and how to use them.

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Why Use Software Development Metrics and Measurements

It is a popular saying that when the use of a thing is unknown, its abuse is inevitable. So for starters, we will look at why measuring software productivity is crucial.

Generally, software productivity measurement is used by IT companies or companies that have or are going to hire a dev team where software plays a pivotal part in their productivity. Typically, every company sets development goals per time. Tucked somewhere within these goals is the hope that maximum productivity or improved quality of products will be achieved with the least time and cost value.

Software developing companies are seeking to make their software development process better, with less input and more output. To reach this aim, you have to consciously and effectively track the progress. Here is exactly where tracking software metrics and KPIs come in.

The reasons why software development metrics and KPIs are monitored and analyzed are:

  • Knowing what the quality of the software product at hand is;
  • Using them as a good medium to ensure that you have hit the nail on the head;
  • Applying them for diagnostics, as they are perfect tools for detecting hindrances to software productivity and development;
  • Achieving communication goals and targets. These metrics can break productivity goals into simple, feasible, and accurate action plans. With metrics, the team gets to work on the same page, at the same pace, and running with the same vision;
  • Getting an opportunity to weigh your decisions before making them and knowing how to prioritize each software process.

For instance, software development measurement helps the Softermii team work smart.

With it, we can differentiate routine things in the software process from the most important ones. Our team not only creates a scale of preference but also determines the urgent but unimportant apart from the important but not urgent. Still, on to-do lists, engineer productivity metrics highlight the very things to prevent so that it does not cost you more in the future when trying to fix them.

The right software development metrics should act as a loadstar, to practically guide your business from its location to your preferred destination for it. This means with KPI, we can chronicle the growth phases and stages of our business. With metrics, we can always reproduce our results, since we do not stumble on such achievement by guesswork or gut feeling, but by deliberate steps that software productivity measurement helps the Softermii team work better.

Failing to invest in compiling accurate business data, beyond the usual financial statements and reports, means business owners will continue to rely on “gut feelings” and assumptions when it comes to making decisions.

What Are Software Development Productivity and Quality Measurement

To ensure that we are on the same page, let's define software measurement and software productivity. In basic parlance, software productivity is defined as the proportion of the functional value of the software product to the efforts and cost of producing it.

This explanation makes room for the benefit of the customer from that software to influence the measurement of such software productivity. This method of measuring productivity is based on the value of results to the software consumer, which is more realistic than basing results on lines of code. Productivity metrics in software engineering have been defined by different scholars in their works on software.

However, a simplified combination of their perspectives on software development eventually comes to this. Software development measurement is not something that is confined to one stage or aspect of software development, but it runs through the entire cycle and engages all aspects of software development. In fact, it is almost the lifeblood of software development processes.

Softermii is ready to share the metrics we use when developing and testing various software products. Considering the rich eulogy of software development, you might be curious about what metrics are to measure, how to go about such measurements, and how these calculations affect your business.

What to Measure with Software Development Productivity and Quality Metrics

It is fundamental to understand that in every kind of measurement, there are units that are suitable for it. The case on software development is not any different, so for measuring software measurement, productivity metrics are involved. Though metrics is a term that appears in almost every business that indulges in the rather helpful habit of evaluation, software metrics, in particular, involve software productivity that guides all the project management process.

In this kind of journey, metrics serve as the tour guide that determines if you're on the right path towards your software development goal and also recommends what kind of methods and means are suitable for the software development in particular.

Various software performance metrics are the subjects of studies and research of different scholars like Baumert and McWhinney, 1992; Hammer et al., 1998; Loconsole, 2001; Paulk et al., 1993.

Many researchers offered several classifications of metrics. Still, they all seem to agree on a couple of things. Software metrics are categorized differently, but some metrics may fall under more than one category.

Methods of Measuring & Types of Software Development Metrics

Now that you know what software productivity and measurement are, particularly software product development metrics, let’s move on.

Software quality metrics can improve software quality and help better understand how reliable, safe, and secure software is. Softermii knows how metrics fit software productivity and the process of its measuring since we’ve got lots of successful projects in our portfolio.

Particular metrics allow analyzing software productivity and effectiveness at various stages of its development. Let’s consider the trendiest metrics of measuring software quality and efficiency.

Performance Metrics

Performance metrics are figures and data related to a company's actions, abilities, and product quality. They are various and can provide insights on sales, profits, returns on investment, order execution speed, productivity, customer satisfaction, overall quality, and a company’s reputation. These key figures are only useful if acknowledged, calculated, and tracked.

Quality Metrics

Quality metrics typically include customer satisfaction, supplier performance, software defects, cycle times, and many other internal or external features. These metrics provide a framework for establishing the right quality indicators for evaluating the software product. Get this valuable information from the interested parties’ feedback and customer support team.

Forecast Metrics

Forecasting is an important part of any planning activity. Forecast (capacity) metrics help predict the number of hours needed for different stages of work and foresee negative factors that may have a significant impact on the software product. They are essential for root cause analysis and detecting systematic changes in forecast accuracy as early as possible.

Business Value Metrics

These metrics are individual indicators for every software solution. They help guide and gauge the value of the company’s product in the market. Business measurements have to be carefully managed to make sure they give the right and objective answers to the relevant questions.

Project Timeline Metric

Managers can see how work focus and volume change over time using the Project Timeline metric. When it comes to a software project, cost and time are directly proportional. Too much time increases the project cost and results in a billing loss.

Thus, the Project Timeline metric is crucial to deliver the projects on time or even before the deadline without going over budget. Also, this metric helps visualize how different events impact the developers’ team performance and work out data-driven decisions accordingly.

Code Review Metric

For developers, the practice to review codes prevents the efforts and hours spent in processing the errors. Also, it reduces costs. Code reviews help detect project-specific tags pointing to new features, bug fixes, or other improvements. Code metrics enable us to determine how much time each developer spends on code review, how many defects were detected, and the percent of reviewed codes by a developer. This data promotes accountability and statistics.

Agile Metrics

The Agile process metrics are based on prioritization, allowing developers to focus on a certain result and business goals. The working group should concentrate on the task assigned without being distracted by secondary requirements and requests. By breaking down a project into small tasks, identifying the most important ones becomes easier.

When developing software, track both business indicators and Agile metrics. Business indicators help understand how the given product meets the market needs. Agile metrics evaluate different aspects of the software development process. Agile process metrics are also needed to reduce the time it takes to turn an idea into a software product and to complete an order from start to finish.

Security Responses Metric

Security responses metrics facilitate decision-making and improve performance and accountability through collection, analysis, and reporting of performance-related data. Tracking a metric of security responses helps ensure the effectiveness of a project.

To measure the effectiveness of cybersecurity processes, managers have to consider the availability of data for analysis, the security of operational procedures, the automation of data collection, and the complexity of this process.

This metric is used to achieve the goals of information security, efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and the impact of cybersecurity on business processes. As a rule, a quantitative indicator is used for its evaluation. It is expressed as a percentage of the number of performed actions to the number of implemented measures. The risk of security responses is expressed as a function of threats, vulnerabilities, and potential impacts (or expected losses):

Security responses metric - measuring productivity in software development

Size-Oriented Metrics

Size-oriented metrics are created to measure the software product and its development process. These metrics are based on estimates related to LOC (Lines of Code), which represent the number of lines in the software product.

The advantages of size-oriented metrics are that they are widely used and simple and easy to calculate. What about disadvantages? They depend on the programming language and require initial data that can be difficult to obtain at the initial stage of the project.

Size-oriented metrics of performance and quality are calculated using the following formulas:

Sized-oriented metric of quality - how to measure productivity software engineering team

Sized-oriented metric of productivity - software developer performance metrics

Function-Oriented Metrics

These types of software metrics are crucial to measuring software development. Function-oriented metrics indirectly measure a software product and its development process. Instead of calculating the LOC score, these metrics do not consider the size but functionality and usefulness of the software product. These metrics validate user input, issue error reports, reflect user queries, etc. The following five information characteristics are used:

  • Number of external inputs;
  • Number of external pins;
  • Number of external requests;
  • Number of internal logical files;
  • Number of external interface files.

Mean Time between Failures (MTBF)

Understanding how outages and technical incidents happen is essential, as errors and failures lead to real consequences such as missed deadlines, payment delays, etc. The Mean Time between Failures (MTBF) measures how long a component can be calculated during the last time between downtimes.

This metric is intended to help teams of developers understand how often incidents occur and how quickly the team resolves them. The MTBF metric tracks both the availability and reliability of a software product. It is also used for redundancy planning and customer services.

Mean Time to Recover (MTTR)

The Mean Time to Recovery (MTTR) shows the average time it takes to recover a component after a failure. If the MTTR value of any critical component in a high availability installation exceeds RTO (Recovery Time Objective), then a system failure could result in unacceptable business disruption. It means that you will not be able to restore the system within a certain RTO value.

MTTR includes four different indicators: repair, respond, resolve, and recovery. Although these four features overlap, each has its meaning and characteristics.

Currently, many experts are arguing about the real benefits of MTBF and MTTR metrics. On the one hand, when these metrics are used separately from other indicators, these operational metrics do not answer the tough questions of how incidents are handled, what works and what does not, and how, when, and why problems escalate or subside.

On the other hand, MTBF and MTTR can be a good baseline and benchmark to discuss deeper and more important issues.

Usability and UX Metrics

Usability metrics directly correlate with customer experience. From a formal point of view, usability is the degree to which certain users can use a product to achieve their goals with due efficiency, productivity, and satisfaction. Usability metrics show how the software product is user-friendly, understandable, and easy to learn for users, i.e., the emphasis is on functionality and simplicity. Therefore, for any usability assessment, the following user parameters should be considered:

  • Discoverability;
  • Efficiency;
  • Accessibility;
  • Memorability;
  • Learnability;
  • Satisfaction.

UX metrics are data sets used to measure, compare, and track the user experience over time. These indicators are vitally important for taking UX design decisions using evidence rather than user opinions. That is why UX metrics are qualitative.

They often include users' emotional responses, such as how much they trust the given software. Such metrics can be considered a bridge between design, product, and business. To measure UX, some attitudinal features are to be evaluated:

  • Loyalty;
  • Usability;
  • Credibility.

Customer Satisfaction in Software Development Services

This metric shows how customers evaluate the given software product's performance, quality, and usability. Typically, the customer satisfaction metric is based on customer reviews conducted using such tools as Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Effort Score (CES), and Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT).

These features allow you to determine how customers and software vendors get the right software and how happy they are while using it. This metric aims to help project managers improve the processes that underpin software development.

KPIs in Software Development

KPIs for developers are one of the favorite topics in software development companies. Managers are accustomed to seeing specific results in numbers, such as the number of orders performed per month, the profit amount per year, and so on.

Such indicators are easy to measure. However, when compiling KPIs for developers, we have to consider that engineers are smart, creative, and, most importantly, passionate specialists. Software experts usually prefer to work out of frameworks and boundaries.

Thus, introducing perfect software development KPIs is not an easy task.

Today, many companies use key KPIs directly related to increasing the number of users or customers in less time spent. For this, automated systems and KPIs for software quality are used to constantly monitor whether the company is on the right track or not. If developer productivity metrics are not sufficient, you need to change the way the team works, try new technologies, and so on.

Such indicators as a number of defects or lines of code are rarely used since they do not increase sales and are hard to apply for the entire organization.

Summing Up

The Softermii dedicated team offers a wide range of software development services using universal solutions, the latest technologies, and a systematic approach. The process of software development and project management is organized in such a way as to provide our clients with full control and transparency of operations, as well as guarantee the final result with optimal indicators measured by various metrics.

Our team can quickly and efficiently develop various projects of any complexity and scale. Thus, choosing our company to develop the required software product will be the right decision. Feel free to get in touch with us.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Software Development Metrics Are Used in Softermii?

Our engineering team uses all the mentioned above metrics during the software development. The right metrics can help us monitor the project progress better, resolve rising issues at the onset, and continuously ramp up the order fulfillment speed and quality.

What Are the Main Software Development Metrics?

Different software metrics enable our team to measure software performance, plan work stages, increase productivity, etc. We can name agile, performance (velocity and throughput), and operational, customer satisfaction metrics among the most valuable indicators.

How Often Should You Check the Metrics?

Conventionally, software product development metrics can be divided into product, process, and project metrics. Also, the developer productivity metrics can tell about developers' productivity and other particular characteristics of the Softermii working team. There are hundreds of metrics in total, and it makes no sense to track them all every day. Managers of our team use specific metrics at different stages of software development.

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