Top 19 Software Development Metrics and Key Performance Indicators

Software is only recognized if it solves a problem or reduces the efforts of the users. In a software development process, the entire software team puts in all their efforts to make sure that the created software meets what they were planning to achieve. Sometimes, the software teams accomplish the goals on time whereas, in some cases, they failed to achieve the desired results on time. In the majority of cases, the latter happens when the team ignores several metrics and performance indicators of the software development. 

software development metrics and kpis

Keeping an eye on the software development metrics and KPIs will identify how the development process is going and the results will highlight any missing elements along with the areas where improvement is required. Entry-level teams miss out on tracking the right software development KPIs and metrics due to which they remain indistinct on how their software development progress is going. To aid all such developers and their teams, this article brings all the primary metrics and KPIs of software development. 

Software Development Metrics 

Software development metrics are several attributes that are calculated to analyze whether the software development process is aligning with the set goals of the team members. These metrics will assist in identifying issues in the development. No matter whether the results are positive or negative, they are going to help the team in enhancing the overall development process. When the results are positive, the team will get better recognition, hence encouraging them to perform even better. On the other hand, if the results are negative, it will motivate the development team to fix the issues as quickly as possible to make the process better. Considering that fact, here are the foremost software development metrics that should be analyzed to boost the overall software development process. 

  • Work in Progress: As the name suggests, work in progress is the software development task on which the team has started working on and is not in the pipeline anymore. Understanding the work in progress metric will allow the software development teams to have a clear picture of the amount of work finished by the team along with the actual amount of work pending. Furthermore, it will aid the team in managing the tasks more effectively and reaching their goals within the deadline. 
  • Sprint Goal Success Rate: Software developers create a sprint backlog that has several items from the product backlog which the team will work on in the future sprint. Sprint goal success rate calculates the ratio of tasks fulfilled by the team in the sprint backlog. Sometimes the team may accomplish the task whereas there is a possibility of failure. Even if the team is unable to reach their sprint goals, the progress they have made in the process can be considered as done. 
  • Defect Detection Ratio: Without a doubt, defects are inevitable in software. Even though they cannot be eradicated, they can be minimized to much extent through this metric. It is the percentage of the number of defects identified in the software before its release with the number of defects found after its release. The calculating formula is A/(A + B) where A is the number of defects found prior to releasing and B is the number of defects found by the users post-release. The higher number will depict that the development team was effective in diagnosing issues during the development process and before the actual release of the software for the users. 
  • Peer Code Review: During software development, ensuring that the code quality is maintained throughout the process is necessary. Peer code review metrics will be done by experienced members of the development team who will keep an eye on the spot-check projects to make sure that code quality remains top-notch. In addition to the quality, the time consumed to write a code and fix an issue is also calculated in this metric. Peer code review will not only let the team know about their code quality but makes them aware of their actual productivity. 
  • Version Control System History: Version control system history will depict the pattern of past productivity by the same team. In case the codebase has existed for a long time, using VC history tools like CodeScene will help in getting insight from this development metric. Such tools will monitor the version control history and determine hotspots in the software code. By looking at the areas where the most logical changes occur frequently, the development team can remember the nature to make the code better in the long run. 
  • Meeting Release Date Targets: There is a timeline set for every software development including its release date. This is among the most crucial targets in software development as several other teams work collaboratively to meet the release date target. On the other hand, there are stances when certain features should be implemented in the software before release. As different managements are involved in the releasing process, appropriate communication between the development and the product management teams is necessary. When the software hits the release date targets, it showcases that the teams are not only productive in development but are coordinated with other teams as well. 
  • Measuring Meeting Time: Without a doubt, a team needs coordination while working on a project and that coordination is achieved through Scrum meetings. If a software development team is having long standup meeting times frequently, it could be a sign of inefficiency in preparing Sprint stories. Furthermore, it could be a sign that the team requires extended time in meetings to discuss stories while backlog grooming. However, the number of team members participating in the Scrum meetings should be analyzed as well. When the entire team is not available in the meeting, the final results you will get may not justify the performance of the entire team. Moreover, assessing the meeting provides the right insight into the way how the development team is communicating in the meeting and its effect on the software development. 
  • Quality Assurance Kickback Rate: Upon resolving an issue in the software, the developers will send the issue to the quality assurance team for evaluation. Sometimes, the quality assurance team may kick back the same to the engineers. Even though kickbacks can never be eradicated, a substantial rise in the number of issues can showcase a lack of efficiency within the team. Moreover, kickback of the same issue multiple times should also be monitored for better measurement of the QA kickback rate. 
  • Adding New Features: The final phase of software development is operations and maintenance where the team keeps on adding new features to the software with each update. A productive and efficient team will not wait for the users to ask for new features. Rather, they must work on adding new features before the users expect them. Not only that, but the development team will remain constant in doing so to keep the software up and running. Measuring the rate of adding new features in the software will showcase how the development team is taking the right efforts to keep the software functional for the users. 

Software Development Key Performance Indicators(KPIs)

A software development key performance indicator will help in understanding the way how the development process is working and whether the entire development team is going on track or not. Using the right KPIs is essential for not just attaining accurate results but to attain the actual depiction of the software development process. Almost every KPI is a quantitative measurement of the results obtained during software development. 

Measuring KPIs provide tons of benefits for the development team including better outcome, transparent business perspective, alignment of the process with the business goals of the software, and coordination within the team members. With the right understanding of the key figures through KPIs, the developers can accomplish their goals within the set timeline and the budget. Even though there are legions of KPIs for software development, measuring each one of them is not necessary and may consume unnecessary efforts. The section below focuses on the software development KPIs that bring the utmost value to the software as well as the development team. 

  1. Lead Time: Lead time is probably the metric that takes the longest time to calculate. In this metric, the duration of the entire software development process is included, starting from the beginning till the very end. In other words, the lead time begins with the initial proposal of the software by the development team and culminates at the final delivery of the software. By understanding the lead time, the team can understand the actual time taken to complete the entire development process. 
  2. Net Promoter Score: Without a doubt, every software is created for a customer. Sometimes the customer can be regular users whereas, they can be corporates too. No matter the customer type, the only thing matters is their satisfaction. If they are satisfied with your software, they are going to use it and your future products. However, if they feel like your developed software is not effective, they might switch to some other program. During the development, you use the Net Promoter Score that helps in measuring customer satisfaction.
    This metric showcases the number of customers who refer your product in their group. Through NPS, you will get a score between -100 to +100 where – 100 depicts that none of your customers are referring you whereas +100 shows that all your customers refer you in their groups. The correct way to calculate the right number is by considering promoter and detractor and ignoring the passive as they have little to no impact on the result. With the higher result, you can know that the developed software is effective in satisfying customers’ needs. In contrast, the lower score shows that certain changes have to be made in the final decisions to make the newly developed software better. 
  3. Velocity: Velocity is among the foremost KPIs for software development preferred by experienced developers to analyze the work that can be accomplished by the development team within the given time or sprint. The primary reason why this metric is preferred by developers is its assistance in planning the future sprints as well as forecasting the number of iterations that may be required by a project. Velocity is measured in either story points or hours.
    In order to calculate the velocity of the team, it is essential to determine the average speed of the team. Imagine that a team completes 80 story points within the first sprint followed by 100 and 120 story points in the second and third sprint respectively. The average of these three sprints comes out to be 100 which can help in forecasting the time the team may take to complete the project. Putting it in a real software development scenario, if a project requires 600 story points, then the team needs six iterations to complete the development. The general rule of thumb is the higher velocity showcases better productivity by the software development team.  
  4. Cycle Time: Cycle time is the time spent by the development team while working on a task. By calculating this agile software development KPI, you can analyze the efficacy of your team in the software development process. Furthermore, it will allow you to foresee the time the team may take to add any new features to the software. Apart from that, the cycle time will help in finding any slowdown or vulnerability in the development process that might be the cause of additional delay.
    The formula for calculating cycle time is X – Y where X is the culmination date of a cycle and Y is the beginning date of the cycle. To further expand the effectiveness of the cycle time indicator, a chart can be used which will display the time consumed on the tasks visually. Using a chart will help in comparing the cycle times and allow the team to have a better insight into the time spent on tasks. 
  5. Code Coverage: Code quality plays a crucial role in the overall software development. Code coverage software development KPI is used by the development team to analyze the overall code quality. Certain software development lifecycles use test-driven development and continuous delivery and code coverage has been proven effective in measuring such SDLCs code quality.
    Here, the amount of successfully validated code lines in the test procedure is measured. Measuring the number of successful lines of code helps in determining the testing of the software code. Code coverage percentage is calculated by the following formula: CCP = (A/B)*100. A signifies the number of code lines executed by the testing algorithm and B signifies the total number of code lines in a system. The higher the code coverage score the code gets, the better it is in terms of being bug-free. The goal is to make the software error-free and code coverage allows the development teams to identify the compromises made on the code and fix the issues beforehand. Click here to know more about software testing metrics and kpis.
  6. Cumulative Flow Diagram: Stability in the workflow is necessary for software to become effective. A cumulative flow diagram is one of the most significant software developer KPIs that covers the three crucial elements of a workflow and displays the result in a visual format. Throughput, cycle time, and work in progress are the three metrics covered in this diagram that showcase the stability of the workflow, allowing the development team to put some additional focus on enhancing the development process. Moreover, the diagram will provide insight on not just existing but previous problems which can be used to visualize the data and improve the overall workflow of the software development process. 
  7. Sprint Burndown: Sprint burndown is one of the best KPIs for software development which displays the remaining time to accomplish an earlier planned task. Tasks in software development are divided and they should be completed within the given timeframe. Sprint burndown will help in providing the remaining time which can be used by the development team to determine whether they can complete the sprint within the deadline or not. In case the sprint burndown shows that the task cannot be completed by the deadline, then it is crucial to amend the process, and identify the vulnerabilities that led to delay in the process. Not only sprint burndown helps in tracking the overall progress of the development process, but also notifies the team about the hurdles in the process and helps them in knowing if they can meet the set target or not.
    The sprint burndown chart is created to track the performance of the team. The chart consists of the X and Y axis where X represents the story points remaining in the backlog whereas Y-axis represents time or day in the sprint. Furthermore, there are two lines in a graph where the first one is a dotted line and the other is a solid line which showcases the remaining work in the sprint and the actual state of the workflow respectively. When the dotted line is above the solid line, it depicts that the team is running behind the schedule and needs to make certain changes in the process to bring the workflow back to track. On the other hand, if the dotted line is below the solid line, the team is working efficiently and is running on schedule.  
  8. Bug Rates: No software is entirely bug-free and certain bugs are always there in every software or program. However, the developers study the bugs and determine whether they should put the effort into fixing the particular bug or not. Bugs always affect the experience of the users which is why keeping a count is always essential. Bug rates KPI assists in tracking the number of bugs found in the software whenever a new update or a feature is added.
    Majorly, bugs the measurement of bugs is categorized into two parts; the total number of bugs and the severity of the bugs. The team can measure the total number of bugs and fix a maximum limit of bugs in software. Furthermore, the severity of the bugs should be minimal and should not lie within the medium to high range. In case the number of bugs is more than the fixed acceptable number or the severity of any bug is above the medium range, it is time to fix the code and make the necessary adjustments.  
  9. Release Burndown: Release progress is another important metric that is measured by release burndown. This software development KPI identifies whether the team can release the final software within the specified deadline or not. Through this KPI, the developers can know how their team handles the backlog, foresee the sprint numbers that should be completed and the release date of the software as well. Release burndown is also a graph that displays data visually. There are X and Y-axis which show the sprints and story points respectively. By analyzing the visual representation of the release burndown, the development team can determine the expected finish date of the project. 
  10. MTBF and MTTR: Mean time between failures and mean time to repair are two software development indicators that focus specifically on software failure. There is no denying the fact that software failure can happen anytime and to any software. However, it is the efficiency of the development team that will repair the software.
    Mean time between failures is the average time between two failures. On the other hand, mean time to repair is the average time consumed in repairing the software post-failure. MTBF can be calculated by total uptime divided by the total number of breakdowns. The formula for calculating MTTR is total downtime divided by the total number of breakdowns. Calculating both MTBF and MTTR will help in evaluating the overall productivity of the software development team. 


Every software development metric and KPI is used solely to enhance the productivity of the team and reach the desired goal within the deadlines. These are the top metrics and KPIs that will help your team in optimizing the process and help you in precisely planning your process. ThinkSys Inc provides the experience of expert software developers who can help you in achieving the right results by identifying accurate software metrics and KPIs for your software development process. By studying the entire process along with your business logic, the experts at ThinkSys will set the correct KPIs that will align with the software to derive the best outcome.

If you want to attain the risk-free software, then ThinkSys Inc is your best entity to connect with. 

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