Best Practices

The 9 Best Metrics to Measure Software Team Productivity

Your company’s competitive advantage is contingent on the quality of its software product and the speed with which you can deliver it. And the quality and speed of your next release hinges on the skill, efficiency and motivation of your development team.

So, when you think about it, few roles are more central to your bottom line than developers.

That’s one of the reasons why it’s important to measure and optimize their contributions for continuous improvement. For instance, is the team already overachieving? Do you need more resources? Different processes?

The first step is knowing what to measure and our new, extensively-researched paper will help.

In “The Essential Guide to Software Development Team Metrics,” you’ll learn how to track the speed, accuracy, quality and even joy of your software development team.

At 56 pages, there’s honestly too much actionable information in the paper to discuss in just one blog post. So for now, we’ll focus on the nine metrics that relate to team speed and productivity.

How do Your Software Developers Rate in These Nine Key Areas?

Our new paper describes nine key productivity metrics for your developers. They are:

Cycle time
How much time are you spending working on each issue? Depending on your development goals, you may find it helpful to break down cycle time data by type, so you can see how long your developers are spending on each type of project (such as bugs or feature requests).

Another approach is to analyze how long issues are spending in various states of status, from open to closed and every stage in between.

Release cycle time
Closely related to cycle time, release cycle time specifically calculates how long your team is spending on each product or feature release. You’ll measure from when development begins to when you ship.

Velocity
Velocity is one of the best ways to track the real contributions of your development team. It’s a measurement of the number of ship-ready (or at least test-ready) features your team delivered within a particular time period. 

Throughput
Your team’s throughput is similar to its velocity, only more granular. While velocity determines the end result, throughput counts tasks, chores and bugs in addition to features.

So while velocity tells you what your team did that can actually be sold, throughput gives you a better idea of what their overall workload was for given time periods.

Open pull requests
When your developers complete a change, they’ll add it to the code repository and then issue a pull request that asks the rest of the team to review the work.

Each pull request will remain open until colleagues have provided feedback and a manager (or other developer) marks it as closed.

Having a lot of open pull requests indicates that a lot of work is getting done — but it could also be a sign that your reviewers are slow in responding.

Work in progress
Closely related to throughput, work in progress (WIP) tracks your team’s number of current tickets or issues. Whereas throughput looks at what your team did during a specific week or month, WIP looks at what they’ve got on their plates right now.

Iteration flow
With iteration flow, you can visualize how the status of your tickets changed over a certain period of time. This view can help you gauge whether or not the repeatability and health of your development processes is affecting your time to delivery.

Difficulty of feature implementation
This metric is a great way to gauge how challenging your development team finds their work.

When your developers consistently report that feature additions were tough, you can rest assured that they’re not bored at work — but you’ll also have to be careful not to burn them out or sink morale.

Should we release faster?
Here’s another metric that can keep your finger on the pulse of team morale. If your developers consistently report that they think you can release faster, you’ll know you’re not getting all you can out of them.

Get the Full Story on Software Development Team Productivity

In our new paper, we go into more depth on what these team productivity metrics really mean. We also talk about how to measure them — and why.

And we don’t stop at metrics related to productivity and speed. We also share:

  • 10 metrics that can help you ensure on-time delivery.
  • 13 metrics to help you boost product quality.
  • 5 metrics to help you measure team health.
Grab “The Essential Guide to Software Development Team Metrics” now.