Professional software development requires consistency in quality, cooperation, and metrics. The last part is tricky because you can measure virtually anything. In this article, we will show you what exactly can you monitor. Software development key performance indicators (KPIs) are there to help you guide the project, not bound you through artificial metrics. Here are some software development metrics worth knowing about.
Software development key performance indicators allow project managers, scrum masters, and software engineers to improve performance, monitor progress, and talk about roadblocks on a way to achieve sprint objectives. They are also a basis for establishing the next phases of the product’s development.
It’s especially important if you work in an outsourcing model, using software team augmentation services. After all, you want to make sure the progress is steady and money isn’t flowing through the window.
What is a software development KPI, anyway?
All fine and dandy but what is KPI in a software development environment and how does it differ from any other situation? Well, a KPI can be used to monitor the performance of the entire organization, a project, or a given specialist. KPIs show how well a team’s performing if it’s in sync with the company’s goals.
In the world of software development are even more important. It’s a time and money-sensitive business, depending on constant and regular increments. That’s why it’s vital to track, evaluate, report, and adjust activities to achieve progress.
KPIs in this environment should take into account:
- roles in the development team and the responsibilities that go with them
- timing, meaning a stage of the product development life cycle
- outsourcing model – do you as a client want the end-to-end software development or rather prefer the previously mentioned team augmentation
Let’s not forget that KPIs can be also broken by categories:
- developer’s performance (hourly, daily, and weekly increments, number of bugs assigned to his or her account, etc.)
- software performance (load, stress, soak testing, application performance monitoring (APM)
- software maintainability (static code analysis, code complexity, lines of code – LoC)
- software reliability (production problems, average failure rate, load testing, MTBF, MTTR)
- percentage of bugs in the code
- security (number of vulnerabilities, time-to-resolution, updates deployment, number and severity of security incidents)
- user experience (UX)
KPIs are important because they allow managers not only to track progress but also to spot obstacles and properly react to them. And that means shifting gears and establishing new priorities.
Agile metrics and traditional software metrics
In traditional waterfall software projects, people assumed that software could be specified in advance and quantified by estimates. It was also assumed that the software specification would meet end-user requirements (which sadly and often was not true).
This led to an emphasis on in-process measurements like man-months or active days, lines of code (LoC), and even the number of pages of documentation. Which can be helpful but it’s still a vanity metric. The code is always the most important. In agile development projects, the emphasis is on outcome metrics like completed story points or production defects. The most important, however, and still often missed is customer satisfaction.
Top software development metrics, divided by types
Take a look at these software development KPIs and search for a software provider who is aware of them and successfully implements them into daily product management.
The development stage
- Velocity. This indicates the amount of increment the team can produce during a sprint. It shows how many tasks team members can complete. It’s not about time; sprints usually last a week or two. Velocity shows us how effective the team is in clearing backlog.
- Sprint burnout. It represents completed work in line with the timeline of the project. Very often it’s displayed as a percentage of completed tasks. Teams should be careful because it’s prone to error when story points serve as the main factor.
- Release burnout. The KPI is crucial for identifying when a product will be ready for release and how accurate the timeline for it really is. Release burnout provides a birds-eye view of the progress of the software development process.
- Work in progress. The KPI lets the team monitor the number of building blocks currently in development. They can be defined as tasks, tickets, and projects. It’s also helpful to spot bottlenecks in sprints and eliminate them before they grow into something bigger.
- Flow efficiency. This KPI shows the number of tasks in progress vs those waiting to be started (active vs passive). It’s estimated that an acceptable flow efficiency rate should go over 15%, while 40% is recognized as a fantastic performance.
Maintenance stage (helpful in outsourcing)
- Deployment frequency. Very important, especially for teams working in Agile and those with an unstable environment, where changes occur often (pivot periods, etc.).
- Time for changes. It represents the time needed to commit a new portion of the code. Teams that implement continuous integration and continuous delivery (CD/CD) approach split the workload into smaller, easier-to-deliver chunks. An additional plus is that the feedback comes more naturally and the time needed for it is shorter.
- Change failure rates. This metric shows how efficient the team is in terms of deployment. Failure in production happens and is a part of the software development cycle. The challenge lies in adjusting and measuring the percentage of deployments that generate failure in production.
- Reliability, availability, serviceability (RAS). It refers to the software’s ability to persistently meet its specifications; how long it functions relative to the amount expected; and how easily it can be repaired or maintained.
- Time for restoring service. Crucial for any business, especially in FinTech, when access to money and money itself is a key asset. It measures the effectiveness of a team’s response to unpredictable occurrences, like hardware failures, digital break-ins, etc.
Satisfaction assessment – any given moment
- Net Promoter Score (NPS). It shows the chances that the client will recommend a product or a service to other people. It beats online product reviews because it factors in many indicators that a simple review on an e-shop can’t usually cover. It also points out areas for improvement.
- Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS). It’s a method of assessing a team’s morale. Factors like high stress levels and dissatisfaction with management can derail the project. This metric shows us what are threat levels.
- True test coverage. We can call it true test coverage as opposed to the regular test coverage metric, which only measures unit tests. This is a metric that tells you how much of your codebase or feature set is covered by all types of tests – unit, integration, UI automation, manual tests, and end-to-end acceptance tests. It can reveal quality gaps; parts of the software that are new or actively used but do not have sufficient test coverage.
The most important metric of all is the number of users. If your product is struggling with user acquisition, maybe earlier something went wrong with monitoring other metrics and the product took a wrong turn. Either way, you always need solid web development or mobile app development specialists.
Software development metrics are there to optimize the way the sausage is done, so to speak. Software development engineers can always work with workflow automation tools or improve software project management. The key to success, however, lies in user satisfaction. That’s the ultimate metric.