Software Development KPIs: Essential Metrics for Managing Remote Dev Teams
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, clearly articulated KPIs are crucial to the long-term success of any project, business or software development initiative. In fact, a study by Harvard business school found that 3% of MBA graduates who had clearly written out goals earned 10X more than the remaining 97% combined. If that doesn’t scream “articulate your goal metrics” we don’t know what does.
And specifically as it relates to software development, having the right metrics at your disposal gives you a leg up on the competition. KPIs help your development team stay fluid and flexible, accelerates your speed to market, and provide crucial insights along the road to success.
In too many product development groups, the metric-measuring system is slow, wobbly, or downright broken. At best, these organizations struggle to perform at par. At worst, they are caught off guard by shifts in technology, the marketplace, or the intensity of the competition.
But what software development KPIs should you track? We’ve found the 10 most critical KPIs that your dev team leads can use to capture the right metrics and maximize impact.
If keeping tabs on your KPIs sounds about as appealing as cleaning up after your dog, give us a shout. TurnKey does this all day and we know how to help. (The pup is all you, though.)
List of Content
- What Are Software Development KPIs?
- Why Are Metrics So Important for Your Startup or High Growth Company?
- 10 Crucial KPIs for Software Development
- How to Select the Right Software Development KPIs: The SMART Model
- How Can TurnKey Help Manage the Expectations of Your Remote Software Development Team?
- Summary Thoughts
What are software development KPIs?
KPIs – aka “key performance indicators” –are a set of metrics or strategies that measure inputs against outputs to ensure that you are aligned properly towards achieving your overall goals. In software development, KPIs are software metrics or values used to measure the contributions of each member on your development team, and how these contributions stack up to meet the overall business requirements of your software product.
So why bother with KPIs at all? Because the absence of software development KPIs means the absence of rules for your team to use to estimate their performances. Thus there are no measures in place to ensure that team results align with the key requirements for your software.
When choosing software development KPIs, you should opt for those that focus on quality, performance, and scalability rather than more technical aspects like number of lines of code, commits, and deployments.
The major challenge with choosing metrics that focus on the latter is that they are usually inaccurate and provide no real-time objectives.
Why are Metrics So Important for Your Startup or High Growth Company?
Software development KPIs should flow out of your strategic planning process. They should be the key software metrics tied to your organization or team’s vision and goals. Below are the reasons why software development KPIs contribute to your project’s success:
#1. Encourages team productivity
With well-defined KPIs, everyone on the team can see how their efforts contribute to the big picture and feel more invested in the project’s success. It’s much easier for a development team to achieve synergy and work together effectively when each member knows their own function in the process.
#2. Helps achieves your goals
A key performance indicator is like a coin. On the heads side, it clarifies the software development objectives for your team and their role in accomplishing those objectives. On the flip side, it provides the means by which these goals are accomplished.
#3. Measures the team's progress
Once software development objectives have been established, key performance indicators can be used to monitor and assess the team’s efforts to date.
#4. Defines problem areas so you can fix them
Unrealistic timelines and a lack of proper tools are two of the biggest problems that software engineers have to deal with on the job. Teams can head off any issues with target attainment or software development KPI tracking if they know where the issues lie. This will also enable project managers – particularly those using Agile methodologies – to spot, prioritize, monitor, and disclose any bottleneck and probable areas for improvement to achieve better team results.
#5. Improves the ROI
You will boost your development team’s output in general by tracking your KPIs because it ensures that development time is utilized to its fullest potential without sacrificing the quality of the final product. This, in turn, increases the speed to market, thus improving your return on investment.
10 Crucial KPIs for Software Development
Ok let’s get to the real meat on this KPI bone. Given the scale and complexity of the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC), KPIs are critical to ensure that all the expense and effort of the engineering team are paying off with improved performance. As a result, we’ve compiled the Top 10 KPIs that software development teams should continually monitor.
#1. Team velocity
Team velocity forecasts how much work software developers can complete in a sprint. Depending on the complexity of the program being developed, a sprint can last as long as three weeks. The software development KPIs of tasks performed, days needed, or story points is used to track the development of a software project.
While there are many different methods for measuring a team’s productivity, story points are the most common method since they provide a rough approximation of the time and effort required to develop a piece of software. The goal of measuring a team’s velocity is to approximate the amount of progress they make in a given time period.
In short, a slacker crew will only stymie your progress…if you care about your team’s velocity and building a rock-solid development team, check this guide out.
#2. Sprint burndown
In a narrower sense, sprint burndown follows the same trajectory as team velocity. Using the sprint burndown, you get a good idea of how much actual work was completed in a given period of time. Its primary goal is to check if the results of the finished work are consistent with expectations.
This KPI can also provide a cool graphical representation by comparing time versus story points.
#3. Release burndown
The release burndown is more comprehensive than sprint burndown, centers on monitoring release development, and allows the software development team to better control the release of their product with its aid.
With this KPI, the development team can see where they stand in relation to the project timetable using and adjust accordingly. Adopting this paradigm can assist startups managing their development teams (whether in-house or distributed) and keep investors and early adopters apprised of the software’s development.
#4. Cycle time
This software development KPI tracks how long it takes to do a specified job. Cycle time measurements are a common tool used by software development teams to gauge efficiency. Using this Key Performance Indicator, you can evaluate the development team’s performance in a straightforward and unbiased manner. In addition, this method lets you plan for future project completion times while expertly avoiding bottlenecks that could otherwise slow down the software’s performance.
#5. Cumulative flow
An effective visual representation of the state of software development at a given point in time can be attained with the aid of cumulative flow. This is accomplished with the help of color-coded visual diagrams that present the current stage of software development. Use different shades to signify distinct stages of development, such as “Approved,” “In Progress,” “Backlog,” etc.
If your development team runs into roadblocks, a cumulative flow diagram can help you find a solution. The constant visibility of the team’s output serves to keep everyone on task. Or said another way, a picture is worth a thousand words!
#6. Flow efficiency
Flow efficiency measures emphasize remaining time as a key performance indicator. It shows how much time is left minus how much has already been spent. Invested time in development divided by total cycle time yields a measure of flow efficiency.
Flow efficiency is a useful statistic for pinpointing problem areas and fine-tuning the way software projects are managed.
#7. Code coverage
The primary KPI for monitoring code quality during software development is code coverage. This KPI is essential to the software development life cycle and focuses on continuous delivery and test-driven development. As a result, it is also known as test coverage, as it assists in calculating the amount of source code executed during testing and identifies the number of required enhancements.
When a piece of code does not appropriately function, it may be the result of undiagnosed defects. Using this KPI tracking technique, your focus should not be on achieving 100% code coverage, but rather on having better code coverage. This is because more code coverage reduces the need for debugging.
#8. Code stability
This software KPI determines the proportion of deployed code that results in unavailability. A few code line updates shouldn’t have any significant effect on the final output. That said, there are times when it is possible for this to occur. Thus, code stability is used by programmers to determine whether or not a change to the code could compromise the whole project or the development team’s overall objectives.
#9. Code simplicity
The level of code simplicity is an umbrella software development KPI that may be evaluated in several ways. For instance, cyclomatic complexity measures the number of possible paths your code can take. The secret to the success of this strategy is that it favors pathways with the fewest possible turns.
#10. Code churn
This software KPI is used to assess code stability. It counts the number of code changes that occur in a certain period of time. For example, if a software system relies on code that must be rewritten to suit new features, it will require extensive maintenance.
You can also utilize code churn to distinguish between stable and unstable development stages.
Furthermore, code churn assists the development team in identifying patterns in code revisions to detect difficulties caused by the task-generation approach.
If the code has surged in code modifications, it is vital to establish which tasks caused the surges. This can help to avoid developing unstable code.
It's one thing to keep tabs on software development KPIs but it takes a dedicated team of developers to really push the envelope. Give TurnKey a chance to assemble a winning team for you.
How to Select the Right Software Development KPIs: The SMART Model
The software development landscape is a competitive arena, and every little step towards software success counts. One way to ensure you stay ahead of the competition is to choose the right KPIs for your software development. But I bet you’re thinking how on earth is that even feasible? Let’s delve a little further, folks.
The use of software KPIs does not just focus on measuring the overall success of a company’s software product. It also helps keep developers accountable for the quality of the code and the designs that go into the product’s development. Software development KPIs ensure that the business requirements and the company’s objectives are sewn into the fabric of the software.
At TurnKey, we adopt the SMART model of choosing software KPIs. The SMART Model stipulates that each of the chosen KPIs should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound in order to be effective and useful for your business. Check them out:
- Specific: Specific: Your choice of KPIs should be capable of determining the specific inputs that indicate or represent success. The pertinent question you need to ask yourself is: what exactly is an indicator of success? Finding the right answer to this question will save you a lot of resources.
- Measurable: Your choice of KPIs should have a clear measurement pattern in a real sense rather than in the abstract. You should ask yourself if you can physically measure the KPIs you are adopting. If not, that KPI is not good enough.
- Achievable: Your choice of KPI must first pass the reality test before you can use it to measure the progress of your software development. Ensure the KPIs you want to adopt are not just realistic but that they are also achievable.
- Relevant: Ensure that the KPIs you want to adopt are relevant to the software project and reflect the company’s overall objective and goals.
- Time-bound: Your choice of KPI must be time constrained and capable of stipulating when your development team should meet the KPIs. This will help your developers work within the allocated time frame set aside.
How Can TurnKey Help Manage the Expectations of Your Remote Software Development Team?
TurnKey provides a unique remote developer recruiting model that mitigates your exposure to risk while delivering the goods when you need them. Our Yourshoring model allows you to collaborate with seasoned programmers who have the finesse of in-house programmers. And guess what? The team is 100% dedicated to you! The Yourshoring model also assimilates the developers into your company’s culture while maintaining the requisite motivation to complete your project.
At TurnKey, we ensure that quality is preserved and that job delivery is top-notch. And here’s a glimpse into how we help you manage your remote team effectively.
You have too much invested to leave your software development’s success to chance. Choosing and sticking to the right software development KPIs will help you succeed by ensuring that the output of your development team matches the key objectives of the business.
We love a good conversation. But our all-time favorite pastime is building teams that blow your competition out of the water. Don't hesitate to call TurnKey today—we’ll set you up for success.
The most popular and effective KPIs for software development are Team Velocity, Sprint Burndown, Release Burndown, Cycle Time, Cumulative Flow, Flow Efficiency, Code Coverage, Code Stability, Code Simplicity, and Code Churn.
Companies need to measure software development KPIs for a variety of reasons, including to:
- Encourage team productivity
- Seamlessly achieve company-set goals
- Define problem areas in software development and fix them
- Measure the team's progress
- Improve the ROI of the company
The right KPI metrics help improve the general output of your development team—they allow you to maintain the quality of deliverables while ensuring development time is maximized. This, in turn, accelerates speed to market while saving company resources and improving return on investment.