Software development has become a key component for even the smallest of businesses, owing to increasingly digitised marketplaces and fast-paced changes in customer demand. As a result, software outsourcing solutions have gained popularity as they offer businesses the flexibility they desperately need to scale, in order to stay relevant in a market that’s already buzzing with tight competition.
Although building software on an offshore basis offers added flexibility and convenience to the businesses that adopt it, it isn’t necessarily a set-it-and-forget-it initiative. Software outsourcing, albeit alleviating hassles surrounding talent acquisition and in-house team management, requires mindful leadership and direction from product owners so that software being developed meets end objectives, while also maximising ROI.
It is crucial to measure progress, so any shortcomings can be addressed. Therefore, it is subsequently vital to know what needs to be measured, how, and why. This is where software development metrics come in; by ascertaining which items need to be monitored and measured, every member in your team will receive the transparency they deserve in order to learn whether what they’re doing is actually working, and if not, what can be done to improve.
Specialising in technology services outsourcing, at EFutures we’ve learned what’s important when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of your software development efforts. Here, we outline why software development metrics matter, which ones are most common in the industry, as well as how to measure the right ones for ultimate business benefit.
In-house software development teams and software outsourcing companies alike need to determine what their ideal metrics are, depending on individual business objectives as well as how the website or application under development aims to achieve these goals.
As a result, no two software development projects shall have the same metrics. However, most, if not all projects that endeavour to measure software development success are bound to touch base on the following factors, which include (but certainly aren’t limited to):
Lead time and cycle time go hand-in-hand when it comes to measuring how long it takes for a new feature to go from inception to implementation. Lead time indicates the total time it takes for a capability to be built, starting from user request, and over to eventual go-live. Cycle time, on the other hand, measures the time it takes for software development teams to commit the request, and see it through to implementation.
Work in Progress or WIP, as its name suggests, provides insight on tasks that are currently being worked on. WIP can be articulated in a variety of ways, out of which Gantt charts are the most popular method today. WIP is also outlined in contrast to completed and pending tasks, further providing teams with the updates they need to stay punctual.
Defect density measures the number of bugs that are detected per thousand lines of code (KLOC). While a rate of 1 defect per KLOC is considered acceptable, defect densities can vary depending on the nature of the software being built, the expert levels of the developers building the code, as well as the complexity of the programming language used.
Throughput indicates the rate at which software development teams have completed tasks over a specific period of time. In turn, throughput helps quantify the overall rate of speed when it comes to building software – while addressing any lags if rates are too slow.
Net Promoter Score or NPS measures customer satisfaction rates based on customers’ likelihoods towards recommending the software or application at hand. Higher NPS rates mean more customers enjoy using your software – a clear indication that your software development operations are contributing positively towards business outcomes.
Gantt charts are the most popular chart type for project management teams today, and primarily constitute leading project management tools as well. Featuring bars across a timeline, Gantt charts also display team members assigned to each task, by way of assigning a colour to each member – and colouring each task bar depending on who is accountable for it.
As such, Gantt charts have proven to be extremely versatile since multiple key components pertaining to any software project are outlined across a single timeline. This bird’s eye view enables project managers and individual team members alike to view project progress at a glance, while also utilising filtering to narrow down based on individual tasks, deadlines and resources.
Additionally, top project management platforms have enhanced Gantt charts by offering more than just a simple chart; capabilities such as task dependencies and workflow automation immediately identify opportunities, so that no item is missed, and the right teams are notified without any delay.
Burndown charts display the progress made by teams across a software development project, in contrast to what is pending. Featuring an easy-to-digest line graph, progress is mapped concurrent to a line of estimation, which acts as a control. This way, teams can monitor the rate of progress, but also determine whether this pacing is occurring at a speed that is necessary in order to meet deadlines on time.
With software development projects highly susceptible to scope creep and unforeseen bugs, delays can be relatively common. Nonetheless, the estimation line in burndown charts can still provide essential insight to gauge whether projects are on track, or whether any recalibration is required.
Although Kanban boards aren’t originally a means to monitor software development metrics per se, their easily digestible format makes it a valuable option for maintaining transparency in terms of what needs to be done, what’s in progress, what’s completed, as well as who is responsible for each task that has been logged.
Featuring three major sections that indicate ‘To Do’, ‘Doing’ and ‘Done’, Kanban boards can be further segmented into team-based boards, as well as columns dedicated to projects that are taking place simultaneously. Originating from the Kanban task management style that was developed by Toyota Motor Corporation in the mid 20th century, the entire premise of Kanban emphasises on adding tasks to the pipeline only if the system is able to cope with extra work – a worthwhile principle to adhere to in today’s madness of endless requests in modern software development.
In order to determine which software development metrics are relevant for your project, you need to ask the right questions that help your teams draw the connection between ultimate business goals, and application functionality.
Here are some questions that can be posed in order to decide which software development metrics are right for your business:
Software development metrics are an essential component for any software development process, as they help teams determine whether existing workflows and operations are reaping the rewards businesses need. Through connecting the dots between business goals, software functionality and team expectations, software development teams can determine which metrics are relevant and need to be constantly monitored, in order to keep projects well aligned.