Well, you’ve decided to outsource software development. Good choice! However, to any company hiring external contractors, the following question always arises — how to measure the efficiency of such a partnership? Key performance indicators, or KPIs, in software development, will help you evaluate your outsourced IT team’s performance. Never heard about this thing before? No problem. In this article, we will share with you valuable insights on the topic. What are KPIs? What efficient KPI engineering metrics are out there? How can metrics help enterprises measure and boost their outsourced developers’ productivity? Read on for the answers!
What are KPIs in Software Development?
A KPI is a measure, which demonstrates how effectively the business is achieving its key objectives.
Low performance indicators may signal that your company is in trouble since the talents are not performing up to their full potential.
Why are KPIs so important? The answer is obvious for business owners: without establishing and tracking the appropriate key performance indicators, the enterprises would be left in the dark regarding their performance and would be unable to manage the project advancement properly.
KPIs are applied in all the industries, and the software development industry is no exception: software engineering KPIs metrics are used to measure and manage the progress of development teams.
At the same time, while progress evaluation is vital for good management in any IT company, for outsourcing partnerships setting up KPIs that measure developers’ productivity becomes a must since outsourced projects are much harder to manage than the in-house ones.
However, KPIs are not the only thing you need to track the progress. Actually, to see real figures, build reliable advancement charts you need the metrics which show quantitative data about your team progress. In other words, KPIs reflect the achievement of a big goal, while the metrics refer to the small steps that each team member takes to become closer to such goals.
The metrics are multiple, and to make the best use of them you need to find those that best match your project’s specifics. But how to do that?
How to Determine Which Software Metrics to Track in Your Project?
By tracking the right software metrics, project owners can evaluate, improve, and even predict the quality of the current product or process. Nevertheless, monitoring useless metrics is just a waste of time and gives as little useful insights as not monitoring any metrics at all.
The truth is that there is no standard for software metrics which would have the same value for different teams.
However, despite the fact that every project is unique, below we are going to list the most common software metrics for measuring different aspects of the development process. Surely, your project specifics may not allow you to apply them all. Yet, these are the most widely used metrics that help thousands of companies worldwide and we’re confident that trying out at least two or three metrics from the list below can help you achieve more.
Top 13 Software Metrics to Track Your Outsourced Team Progress
1. LEAD TIME
Lead time measures how long it takes to turn an idea into software. If you want to make your outsourced team more responsive to customers, lowering lead time can be an option.
2. ACTIVE DAYS
Active days are used to measure how much time your developer spends on contributing code to the project (excluding planning and administrative tasks). This software metrics should be used to estimate the hidden costs of interruptions.
Production metrics quantify how much work is done and measures the efficiency of dev teams. Such software metrics will be useful to managers who want the team to crank up speed in software development.
4. SCOPE OF ASSIGNMENT
The scope of assignment implies the amount of code that a computer programmer can maintain in one year. Use this metric to determine how many people you may need for software system support or to compare teams.
Efficiency measures the amount of productive code contributed by a developer. Code churn is a measure, which shows you the rate at which the code evolves. Thus, low levels of churn can indicate that an engineer has produced a highly efficient code.
With the impact metric, it is possible to assess the impact of any code change on the project. A code modification that affects different files often causes more serious problems than a code modification affecting a single file.
7. MEAN TIME BETWEEN FAILURES (MTBF) AND MEAN TIME TO RECOVER/REPAIR (MTTR)
MTBF is the mean time between system breakdowns. MTTR is the average time it takes to recover from a system failure from the moment when you are first alerted of the failure. Both metrics describe software behavior in the production environment. They are also used to measure the success in recovering and preserving data.
8. SECURITY METRICS
Security metrics are used to measure the quality of the software being developed.
Track these metrics throughout the whole development lifecycle to be sure your outsourced development team pays enough attention to security.
9. ENDPOINT INCIDENTS
Endpoint incidents reflect the number of devices, which have been contaminated with the virus during a particular period of time.
10. ERRORS PER FP OR DEFECTS PER FP
These software metrics describe the quality of the information system. Software development teams may use them to reduce misunderstandings and implement new control measures.
11. SPRINT BURNDOWN
Sprint burndown is a metric, which shows you the speed at which work is completed and how much work remains to be done.
12. OPEN PULL REQUESTS
Open pull requests inform you about the number of requests that were left without attention. Moreover, it tells you how efficiently the teammates work when dealing with the task together. The thing is, pull requests are queries from one developer sent to the other members of the team to have a code piece checked or share some viewpoint regarding a project bottleneck. In case the teammates are silent or inactive, the request remains open, which results in idle time and provokes delays and schedule disruption. By tracking Open Pull Requests with due care, the business owner will have an eye on true bottlenecks affecting the production, will learn to eliminate such factors in time or reconsider resource allocation/speed of delivery/quality requirements, etc.
Last but not least, the throughput measure gives you the data on the total work output. The measure may cover the number of features, epics, tasks, errors corrected, bugs identified, or the pieces of code – written and tested – ready for production.
How Can KPIs Improve Your Outsourced Software Development Project Management?
Now as you know what KPIs are, how they differ from the metrics, and which metrics you can use, we can see how exactly implementation of KPIs can facilitate project management.
By introducing software engineering KPIs into the development process, project owners will be able to do the following.
Plan and manage the project effectively
Software engineering metrics allow you to understand how far the project has progressed. Using data about the tasks the team has already completed allows for more accurate project estimation. In addition, data on speed and productivity of software development lets the project owners manage workloads, reduce overtime, and track and communicate any issues to improve performance and foster better team collaboration.
Prioritize the work accurately
Metrics are an important component of task prioritization. By analyzing software metrics it is possible to determine whether you need to change the order of tasks defined when drawing up the project plan or not. For example, low customer satisfaction levels due to the poor quality of software updates can be a signal to you that the team should pay more attention to regression testing than releasing new features.
- Identify problems on time
The sooner software problems are identified, the easier and less expensive it is to do the troubleshooting. Tracking software metrics gives a 360-degree view of the project so it becomes easy to detect problems in a timely manner and prevent crises.
Understanding how you’ll measure the success of the project that you outsource to the team located in other parts of the world is crucial to guarantee timely and high quality delivery. Tracking KPIs in software development will help you take control of the situation, which will eliminate any risks of late delivery or low quality of the resulting product.
For sure, finding an ideal set of metrics to enable comprehensive tracking of the performance of your outsourced team is a tough job. Nevertheless, with the appropriate metrics in the place selected by a properly certified, experienced PM and QA engineer, even a floundering team will show remarkable progress over time.
Although the definition of the objectives, selection of metrics, and their implementation may be a time-consuming process, the increase in performance and better resources allocation later pay off in 100% cases.
With 20 years in the market, Qulix Systems has selected a truly working set of software development performance metrics that help us achieve impressive KPIs. We’re open and transparent about the ways we ensure efficiency in our work. Contact us for more about our projects or visit our website to see what we deliver and how.