10 Indispensable KPIs for Software Development

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Measuring your team’s performance via software metrics is an important step toward goal-setting and meeting the objectives you set out for yourself and your business.

When people write down measurable goals, they are 33% more likely to accomplish them. Resourcefulness is not only about having resources, but strategizing how to best put them to use.

In highly technical work settings, key performance indicators, or KPIs, are a valuable method for staying accountable to the goals you set.

Setting software development KPIs are particularly useful for the software development process as it can be complex and exhaustive. Meeting project requirements and satisfying clients are also top priorities for software development teams.

To learn more about software metrics and engineering KPIs, pay close attention. You’ll learn all about it today. Keep reading!

What Is a Software Development KPI?

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are values that measure the performance of your business overall. In the context of software development, KPIs indicate how well your development efforts are aligning with business objectives.

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Key performance indicators (KPIs) indicate how well your development efforts are aligning with business objectives.

Picking the right software metrics is step one. You’d be surprised how often businesses choose the wrong metrics to measure a development team’s success.

Using KPIs such as lines of code, number of commits, and number of deploys is not uncommon. But it is plainly misleading.

The aforementioned metrics don’t correspond to real objectives. And the KPIs you choose for software development requires much more nuance.

Rarely do business managers know enough about the intricacies of software development to truly understand what a successful project looks like.

For example, the traditional software metrics above work best for development teams that use a waterfall model for development.

However, modern software development teams choose to use agile software development in order to scale faster and better.

The agile process centers rapid application development with continuous delivery and deployment.

With these goals in mind, it is clear that software KPIs should rely on business scalability as a quintessential component of performance measures.

And this particular quality likely has the greatest influence on setting software development KPIs. The question is not only what does a software development team need to achieve, but how does it create business value?

Later on, you’ll find out more about the right metrics to use when it comes to combining the interests of business and software quality.

Why Are Metrics Important in Software Development?

Like in any other undertaking, meeting objectives means being intentional about how you complete them.

Similarly, setting KPI engineering metrics and making sure your team is committed to seeing them through will ensure high-quality software. There’s also a better chance you’ll complete your project on-time and on-budget.

When a problem occurs, your metrics will provide valuable context for identifying the issue. Metrics help your business track and monitor certain issues and prioritize the metrics that you feel should stand out the most.

KPIs encourage team productivity as well. When a development team is better able to recognize their collective efforts and how these play into a positive or negative outcome, they are more productive in addressing any bottlenecks.

At any rate, having an organized method for measuring progress in your software development process will result in an increased return on investment (ROI).

10 KPIs of Software Development

Now that you’re familiar with KPIs and their role in software development, you should take a look at which KPIs are best suited for software development.

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Below are 10 essential software KPIs:

1. Velocity

Velocity refers to how much work your team can complete during a sprint. In agile development, a sprint is a set period of time where specific tasks are set out to be done.

There are a variety of ways to measure velocity. The most popular measurement is story points which measure the amount of effort that goes into a software product.

Estimating story points in the first place means evaluating the size of a software project and the time it will take to build it.

It only takes about three sprints before you will have a good idea of the average velocity of your team. Using velocity, you can estimate how realistic the team’s goals are.

2. Sprint Burndown

Sprint burndown is a more narrow metric that measures how much work is actually completed during a sprint. 

Note that sprint burndown is different from velocity which is an estimation based on multiple averages.

Using sprint burndown as a software metrics helps teams adjust their performance when the measurement doesn’t hold true to predictions.

Development teams often use sprint burndown charts to represent the data they gather, measuring time against story points.

3. Release Burndown

Release burndown takes note of release progress. This metric is larger in scope than sprint burndown. And the metric is useful because it can guide teams in managing the release of a product.

Software development teams can utilize a release burndown chart to find out whether they’re behind of, ahead of, or exactly on schedule. 

Businesses will have hard data to show stakeholders when they can expect an ROI post-release. Likewise, you can update enthusiastic customers about delays or early releases.

Release burndown charts look similar to sprint burndown charts. The x-axis represents sprints and the y-axis represents story points.

4. Cycle Time

Cycle time is a software KPI that measures how much time is spent working on a certain task. Development teams use cycle time charts to gauge the efficiency of the software development process.

Measuring cycle time can bring many advantages. First, you have a metric that can objectively quantify your team’s performance.

The same metric will give you an estimation of how fast your team will complete future tasks.

In that same vein, you can spot any inconsistencies, like obstructions in an otherwise speedy workflow.

5. Cumulative Flow

Cumulative flow demonstrates what state your software tasks, or tickets, are in by employing a visual diagram. 

Different colors on the diagram would represent different stages like ‘Approved’. ‘In Progress’, ‘Backlog’, and more. These colors are arranged in bands with the width of the band correlating to cycle time.

You can use a cumulative flow chart to stabilize your workflow when or if you identify bottlenecks. The visual representation of the data holds the team accountable for consistent work output.

6. Flow Efficiency

Flow efficiency measures the ratio between your active time and your total time.

Often work in progress doesn’t really mean work in progress but really time standing still. There may be waiting periods where developers cannot immediately move from one task or project to another.

You can calculate flow efficiency by dividing the time you actively spend working by your total cycle time.

You can correlate low efficiency with specific time periods to better understand what caused the deficiencies.

7. Code Coverage

Code coverage is a software KPI software development teams use to measure code quality.

This particular software metric is critical for software development life cycles that prioritize continuous delivery and test-driven development (TDD).

Also called test coverage, this metric determines how much of your source code executes when it is being tested. 

Code that for some reason does not execute likely has some undetected bugs. While you shouldn’t aim for 100% code coverage, the higher the code coverage the better. And the less debugging you’ll have to do.

8. Code Stability

Code stability is difficult to measure. Stable code means that there are little changes to the software product that could potentially harm the business or software.

Some developers decide to chart the frequency of code changes. Others think of stability in terms of what percentage of deployed code results in downtime.

9. Code Simplicity

Code simplicity is a more general software engineering KPI and there are multiple metrics you can use to measure it.

Cyclomatic complexity, for one, is a quantitative measure of the number of independent paths your code must take. Fewer paths are a good sign.  

Generally, simpler code is easier to test and maintain.

10. Code Churn

Code churn can be a measure of code stability as it refers to how often code changes over time.

If you need to rewrite code often to accommodate a new feature, then the software system involves high maintenance and is thus high risk.


The software metrics and/or KPIs outlined here are indispensable if you hope to scale your business and simultaneously enhance your software development process.

To be certain that your software KPIs are up to par and measured accurately, consider working with Trio.

Trio developers are immensely qualified and have expert familiarity with making use of meeting KPIs again and again. Hire Trio developers now!

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Alex Kugell

With over 10 years of experience in software outsourcing, Alex has assisted in building high-performance teams before co-founding Trio with his partner Daniel. Today he enjoys helping people hire the best software developers from Latin America and writing great content on how to do that!
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