We use metrics and measurements everywhere: in research, in marketing or in goods production both physical and digital. Metrics allow people to understand how efficient your company's processes are, and help to make important decisions to improve business operations and productivity. Software developer performance metrics become especially useful in software development using Agile methodology, where you need to monitor the performance and state of the team over time.
However, there are so many metrics and parameters that can get lost, and it may not be clear which data is important to analyze and which one is not. Some metrics are needed during development, some are needed before release, and very different data will be needed afterwards. Moreover, not all metrics are appropriate for every product development. You have to select metrics carefully and have a clear understanding of how they relate to business goals which is the most essential.
In this article, we look at what software development metrics dashboard can consist of and how it can significantly improve the development team's productivity and help understand the effectiveness of implementing certain solutions and the client satisfaction.
What is software development metricsEvery project task is unique, and a lot of metrics have no value in forecasting if they are not paired up with some business goals. For example, the computational complexity of a product is meaningless if users don't like your software. No matter how cool your product is, all metrics will be worthless without a proper business goal and user orientation.
That's why managers focus on specific and subjective software development metrics that are connected to specific features and goals. This allows management to improve their products and improve processes within the company.
There are so many things to measure when developing software products:
- Software quality and performance;
- Development team’s effectiveness and progress;
- Users and developers satisfaction;
- Product security.
Metrics can also help to focus on user experience and product issues and bugs that occur during the product development process. These quantitative metrics allow managers to better understand every aspect of the work:
- Finding areas for improvement and fixing the problem as early as possible;
- Creating a more understandable and accessible product development and maintaining process;
- Increasing return on investment (ROI);
- Reducing overtime and lowering development costs across all projects.
Key software development metrics examplesIf you choose a remote development team to work with, it is important not to let the project go its own way and control the necessary software development performance metrics, which stimulates the developers to move in the right direction. At the same time, irrelevant metrics will only distract the team from their goals and some important aspects.
Different products may have different key metrics for software development, but some of them can be found in most projects. Let's highlight some examples of one of the most important initial metrics to form an understanding of what a metric is and why businesses need it:
- Time to market is a product implementation and launching time measurement. Companies try to reduce this indicator, which can provide many advantages, such as engaging a large number of users through relevant and trending functionality.
- Development cost. This is where the total cost of product development is calculated. Obviously, managers strive to reduce this metric to achieve a faster project ROI.
- Customer’s satisfaction shows how satisfied users are with the product. High indicators of satisfaction can be a good sign for long-term cooperation.
- Developer’s satisfaction. This is the same metric as the previous one but for developers, their productivity and motivation level.
As we wrote above, there are a lot of metrics to work with. Some of them are completely useless in terms of business goals, like the number of lines of code, working hours or commits made. However, some types of metrics can be very useful. We have identified three large groups, which we will discuss in detail below:
- Agile metrics for managers to plan the project and optimize development processes.
- Technical metrics required right before release.
- Customer metrics obtained after release.
Agile metrics for project managersWe will highlight some metrics that will be useful for those who develop software using Agile methodologies. They are not related to the success of product realization and estimation of development costs. These metrics will be useful for development planning and internal process improvement, so that’s why it is important to measure them. In case any of the metrics are out of the range or have a bad trend, it's worth talking to the team to see if there is a cause for concern and whether it needs to be fixed. Let's have a look at some Agile software development metrics.
Task Completion (Release Burnout)This is a vital metric to measure software development team performance. It shows the number of completed tasks for a sprint or project and how many are left to complete. This is a chart going down that will show how many tasks are currently left and how the sprint is progressing. This metric allows you to monitor the workflow and adjust plans for the next sprints if necessary.
Metrics related to task completion can also be seen as the open/closed tasks ratio, where it is important to consider the overall trend, which can show team priorities or issues on the project.
Development Team VelocityThis is a measure of the number of tasks completed in a single period of time, for example, in a sprint. It helps with planning future sprints, however, you should not consider team velocity as well as task completion ratio as a measure of success to compare different developers because the metric is based mostly on subjective assessments.
Lead TimeThis metric shows how long it took to implement an idea into a finished software product in total. This metric can help those who want to respond to customer requests more quickly. Teams reduce task fulfillment time by simplifying decision-making processes.
Cycle TimeThis is the time that developers work on each task and functionality, and how quickly they deliver them to production. This metric is included in the Lead Time metric and together form the time to market metric.
Flow EfficiencyThis metric measures the ratio of run time to total time, taking into account waiting for tasks to be completed. Waiting occurs when there is insufficient information or resources to implement a feature. One of the manager's tasks is to reduce waiting time in order to optimize the work of the development team, as well as to determine how long tasks are idle and whether it is a problem.
Developer’s SatisfactionRecruiter.com's research shows that workers who enjoy their work environment are more productive, creative and loyal, and also make more smart and reasonable decisions. Therefore, keeping an eye on employee conditions is one of the most important and challenging tasks for a manager. There are a huge variety of tools for this software developer productivity metric control, but many managers advise starting with the simplest ones if you are just implementing such a metric.
A good example of a moodboard was offered by Spotify, which they called the Squad Health Check Model. They use two scales: teams (or squads) mark their status in green, yellow, or red for each work aspect, and also mark with arrows whether things are getting better, worse, or staying the same. In this way, managers understand the overall situation and can understand what needs to be done to help a particular team.
Technical metricsThere are several metrics that programmers rely on during program development. It is important for them to achieve a target result by the product release, so don't forget to request this data from your team before the product release.
All technical metrics are somehow related to product and service quality, safety, and speed of operations. If we think about quality metrics outside of the technical component, we can include cycle time from Agile metrics, which we covered above, and user satisfaction from customer metrics, which we'll cover a bit later. Since the programming team is also responsible for developing the product, they need to rely on some software development metrics as well. Let's take a look at some of them.
Number of software bugs and defectsAll developers make mistakes at some point. However, making mistakes cannot be left to happen by itself and needs to be controlled. You can count the number of defects that get into the final product for your development team. It can be normalized and calculated as defect density by dividing the number of bugs by the size of the software in terms of function points or user stories (some people count in terms of the number of lines of code). Using several sprints as an example, you can identify the average number of bugs that occur per sprint and then use this data as a basis. Significant deviations from the average values are a serious signal to find out possible problems in development in case of a lot of detected bugs or in testing if too few bugs are detected.
Of course, such a value must be regularly updated because developers learn to stop program defects at the development stage. They focus on quality development standards, apply effective testing methods, and, of course, collect and analyze the feedback of their senior teammates to learn from occurring bugs. The latter is most often emphasized as the following metric.
Code review feedbackThis metric is associated with code consistency and quality. Developers must write robust code that will withstand multiple additions and changes to the product. In the beginning, the code will change a lot due to many additions and modifications. But closer to the product launch, such changes should become less. Such metrics allow managers to understand issues related to the structure of the application, programming and testing practices, and the experience of the development team.
One important criterion for code quality is the absence of code duplication. A high number of code repetitions means a low quality product in terms of run time. Therefore, managers and team leads check code duplication, and for this they can use special services like Sonarqube, which checks code according to the rules of programming standards.
Test coverageCode test coverage density is the amount of code that has been checked during testing. It allows specialists to determine whether a product has been sufficiently tested before its launch on the market, as well as to understand the risks that some bugs still remain undetected in the program.
Security metricsSecurity is an important aspect of software that is often overlooked in the latter stages of development. Security requirements should be simple and reasonable, and the team should keep them in mind and satisfy the metrics that come from those requirements. There are several calculations that will make a big impact to you and your customers:
- Endpoint incidents – the number of software breaches by a hacker, where the duration of the attack, its severity, and frequency of incidents are taken into account.
- Mean time to recover (MTTR) – the time between the occurrence of a security issue and the recovery of the program.
Both metrics should be checked over time, and the smaller they get, the more effective the development team is in finding security bugs in the product and fixing them.
Customer metricsUltimately, any product is created for users. Therefore, the most important indicators for business can be considered their satisfaction from using the software, which is converted into the company's profit as a result. Let's look at the metrics that can be taken into account when analyzing customer and user feedback.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)This metric asks users the question, "How likely are you to recommend a service to your friends?". Users are asked to rate the likelihood on a ten-point scale from "definitely not recommend" (1) to "definitely recommend" (10). The overall NPS score is calculated as the difference between the percentage of positive responses and the percentage of negative responses.
This metric allows you to understand how loyal your audience is to you in general and whether they are willing to recommend your services to others.
Customer Satisfaction Rate (CSAT)This approach is a full-fledged user feedback form that asks users to rate different aspects of the product on any scale the business is comfortable with (either a ten-point scale from NPS rate or a simple "good-bad-neutral" scale). This metric won't answer the question generally, but it will allow you to evaluate the individual parts of your app that users interacted with. This is how you can identify key functionality of your product or evaluate solutions that raise concerns.
Conversion rateWith this metric, you can calculate how many people made the target action you need: for example, subscribed, bought your product, filled out a feedback form and many more. It is calculated as the percentage of people who took an action out of the total number of users. Conversion rate helps to understand how attractive the call-to-action element is for users. And if the conversion rate is low, it is a reason to think about the reasons, which can be problems with marketing, website functioning or product design that prevent users from taking the action you want them to take.
There are so many software developer performance metrics that can help with the effective implementation of your project. In this text, we described only several popular examples. In fact, there are many more metrics, but it is important to realize that not everything is suitable for all products. Therefore, if you want to implement the use of metrics in your workflow, you can follow the steps below:
- Define your business goals and align your key performance indicators (KPI) with them.
- Choose the metrics you need that are simple and easy to understand for your managers and team. It is recommended to use the SMART criteria, which tells us that metrics should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
- Update key metrics regularly to stay relevant as your product evolves
- Use tools you are comfortable with, like Trello or Jira to visualize your metrics.
- Encourage a team that is doing their part to improve the continuous development process.
In this article, we took an in-depth look at the main types of performance metrics for software developers and explored why metrics are important for business and why they should be aligned with business goals. Since using software development metrics is a complicated process for beginners, when working with a development team (in-house or remote), it's hard for a startup and business to develop their product without an experienced project manager. So if you want to hire a development team with a project manager who can take care of tracking multiple performance metrics, feel free to write to us about your project. We will be happy to answer all your questions or send you an estimation of your project.