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If you’re in charge of managing a software development team or overseeing their progress, you may as well know about key software development metrics

These metrics for software development vary in nature, as per project requirements, but their ideation is simple and straightforward – i.e. to maintain quality and meet clients’ expectations

Having said that, new agile managers find it a little challenging to understand software development metrics from the developers’ point of view. Let alone, tracking these metrics can be an issue because of their different categories and how they account for in a project development lifecycle

Don’t worry. 

If you’re in a similar situation where software metrics, concerning planning, control, organization, and improvement, are becoming a hassle, we’ve got you covered. 

This post elaborates on different types of software metrics, and how to keep tabs on software development metrics from a long-term performance perspective.

Read on…

What Are Software Development Metrics?

What Are Software Development Metrics

Software development metrics are countable measures of different software characteristics

They are also knowns as KPIs, but Key Performance Indicators are just part of the whole equation. Software metrics have a broad spectrum, where they can be used for different types of things. 

For instance, planning workflow, estimating productivity against performance, software performance evaluation, and vice versa. 

Then again, there’s a metric development process associated with maintaining overall project delivery and quality. This aspect covers timelines, protocols for MVP development (*Minimum Viable Product), lesser revisions, bug fixing, etc. 

How Are Metrics for Software Development Used?

Software development metrics are used by multiple people in a hierarchical format. A product owner’s software metrics might be different than a software team lead’s. 

The development and quality assurance team will have unique metrics subject to their project deliverability. 

Common Examples of How Software Development Metrics Are Used

Regardless of the category, or hierarchy, software development metrics are used for:

  • Project Overview

Project and product owners use metric development to understand and assess varying project states. They also estimate risks, plan risk mitigation and devise solutions for upcoming challenges.

  • Planning and Project Management

Software development metrics for planning help to outline a clear picture of what needs to be done in existing projects, vs. what was done in previous projects of similar nature. 

If there were any blockers or lag, the backlog in existing projects is dealt with accordingly. 

Similarly, the management aspect of these projects is associated with metric development for managing time, budget, resources (*human and/ or monetary), project requirements, etc. Everything breaks down into charts and numbers for easy understanding. 

  • Task Management & Prioritization 

This aspect of software development metrics is associated with internal stakeholders’ performance; the tools they are using, and the external stakeholders’ requirements. 

For example, external stakeholders are not reportedly happy with some aspects of the software. The low dissatisfaction level could be related to recent updates, some new features that weren’t incorporated as required, or substandard user experience. 

As a result, software development metrics lean on task management and prioritization techniques. Tasks with higher dependency and risk matrices are completed first, followed by other activities. Doing so is essential to avoid any bottle-necking issues.

  • Change Management

Change management occurs when variance in workflow, tools, the way a certain task group is completed, or anything else is required for completing projects. 

A common example could be changing to a DevOps strategy where MTTR (mean time to recovery) needs to be calculated. In such cases, metric development is unique. 

3 Categorical Software Development Metrics That You Need To Account For

Categorical Software Development Metrics
  1. Agile Process Metrics

Agile process metrics provide valuable insight into a software development team’s productivity and performance. 

These metrics measure the flow of work through the software development process, allowing teams to identify areas of improvement and optimize their workflow. When used correctly, agile process metrics can help teams reach their goals faster and become more efficient in their processes. 

The most common types of agile process metrics include velocity, cycle time, defect rate, and throughput

Velocity measures how much work is completed within a certain period of time, while cycle time tracks how long it takes for tasks to be completed from start to finish. 

Defect rate tracks the number of defects found during testing or deployment, and throughput measures the amount of work that is completed per unit of time. 

By tracking these four metrics over time, teams can gain a better understanding of their overall performance and make informed decisions about how they should adjust their processes to become more productive.

In addition to the aforementioned metrics for software development, lead time and cycle time are also associated with agile processes. 

Lead Time and Cycle Time as Metrics For Software Development

Lead time and cycle time are two important metrics that can help project teams better understand the agile process. Lead time is the total amount of time it takes to complete a user story from when it is first requested until its completion. 

This includes all processes, such as planning, development, testing, and deployment. Cycle time, on the other hand, measures the amount of time it takes to complete one iteration of the development process. 

It starts when work begins on a user story and ends when it is delivered and accepted by the customer. By tracking lead time and cycle time during an agile project, it’s possible to identify potential issues with project performance and take corrective action if needed. 

This helps ensure that user stories are completed promptly with minimal disruption or delay.

What About Backlogs?

Good question. 

Backlogs refer to the ongoing list of user stories that need to be implemented in an agile development cycle. 

Team capacity indicates how much work can be done by each team member over a given period of time.; And finally, the defect rate shows how often there are issues or defects in deliverables during an agile project timeline.

Keeping tabs on backlog and preventing it from bloating is one of the primary aspects of the type of software metrics. 

Backlog, as a term, is general in nature, and can be applied to any list of tasks that are pending due to different issues.

  1. Production Metrics

Production metrics in software development are important for management teams to track progress, set goals, and analyze performance. 

These metrics allow them to ensure that software development is going smoothly and that all the right steps are being taken. By monitoring these metrics, management can quickly identify potential issues and address them before they become a problem. 

In that order, production metrics help developers focus on delivering useful products and enhancing customer satisfaction. They also provide valuable insights into how projects are progressing and if any changes need to be made. 

  • MTTR (Mean Time To Recovery)

Mean Time To Recovery (MTTR) is an important metric for software development that measures the time it takes to recover from production issues. 

It’s a measure of how quickly your development team can identify, diagnose, and address issues when they occur. This metric is essential in ensuring that your production environment remains reliable and that any downtime is minimized. 

Having an understanding of MTTR can help management teams to set goals, analyze performance, and ensure their projects are on track. To that effect, MTTR can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of your development processes and help you identify areas where further improvements can be made.

  • Application Crash Rate

Application crash rate is one of the essential software development metrics as it measures the number of times an application crashes and the amount of time taken for it to be restored. 

This metric helps management teams understand how reliable their software development processes are and if any changes need to be made. 

A high application crash rate indicates that there might be issues with the code or architecture of the software, which can lead to costly errors and delays. By tracking this metric, management teams can identify problems quickly and take corrective action before they become major issues. 

Knowing this information also allows them to set realistic goals for their software development team, ensuring that they are meeting deadlines and producing quality products.

  • Code Churn

Code churn measures the number of code changes made in a given period. 

It is used to track the rate at which changes are happening in the codebase and can provide valuable insights into how often developers are making changes, as well as what types of changes they are making. 

These types of metrics for software development are especially useful for teams who need to ensure their codebase is up-to-date with the latest features and bug fixes

Tracking code churn helps teams to identify areas of the codebase that require attention, prioritize tasks, and measure progress. As a result, it is an essential metric for any company looking to stay on top of their software development projects.

  1. Security Metrics

Security metrics are an essential part of software development, as they provide an accurate measure of the security risk associated with a particular project. 

This type of metric development enables organizations to identify and prioritize areas of weakness in their software development process, allowing them to take corrective action before any malicious activities can take place. 

Types of Security Metrics

Several types of security metrics can be used for software development: 

Vulnerability scans

Vulnerability scans measure the ability of a system to withstand malicious attacks by identifying known vulnerabilities and providing guidance on how to fix them. 

Code reviews 

Code reviews assess the quality of code written by developers to ensure that it meets industry standards for security and reliability. 

Penetration Testing

Finally, penetration tests simulate a real-world attack against a system to identify weaknesses or exploitable entry points that could be used by an attacker. By using these various types of security metrics, organizations can ensure that their software is secure and reliable before it goes live.


A person using a laptop

To sum it up, dozens of metrics for software development help professionals to align their deliverables with client expectations. However, the ability to track metrics to ensure a highly productive and efficient team performance takes time, and effort. 

We hope that this post illustrated some of the basic concepts of software development metrics from an introductory point of view. Feel free to share your thoughts, or reach out to us to highlight those types of software metrics that aren’t mentioned here.


As a small business owner, what types of software metrics do I need to align my team with?

When it comes to software development for small businesses, certain metrics can help you stay on track and ensure successful projects. 

These metrics include tracking progress, measuring customer satisfaction, monitoring the development process, and assessing the performance of each individual involved in software development. 

Progress tracking allows you to monitor tasks that have been completed and identify any potential delays or issues. Customer satisfaction is also important as it helps you understand what users think about your product and how it can be improved. 

Monitoring the development process helps ensure that all tasks are done correctly and efficiently. 

Lastly, assessing the performance of individuals involved in software development gives you valuable insight into who is performing well and where improvement could be made. 

By tracking these essential software development metrics, small businesses can maintain high-quality products and build customer loyalty.

Are there any challenges that need to be considered when incorporating software development metrics as a startup business owner?

There are certain challenges you should be aware of when incorporating these metrics into your operations. 

Firstly, the data collected from software development metrics can often be difficult to interpret correctly. 

If you do not have an experienced manager or expert in-house who can interpret the data correctly, it may be difficult to understand what conclusions can be drawn from them. Additionally, as a startup business owner, you may not have access to the same sophisticated tools that larger organizations have access to. 

This could lead to inaccurate results and make it difficult to get an accurate picture of your organization’s performance. 

Another challenge is that software development metrics cannot always measure all aspects of your project’s success. 

While they can provide valuable insights into how efficiently tasks and processes are being completed, they cannot measure customer satisfaction and the overall quality of the product or service being provided. 

To truly understand how successful your project is, you need to consider these factors as well as other qualitative measures such as customer feedback and reviews.

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