Measuring a software developer’s productivity is tricky. Technicality aside, software development also encompasses work and processes that are intangible and difficult to quantify.
It’s now more important to set proper metrics to ensure the team’s optimal performance and, likewise, set the proper expectations for their projects. In this entry, we’ll discuss how to measure developer productivity using the most used metrics for software development.
Key Metrics to Measure Developer Productivity
Measuring developer productivity is important in every software development project. Keeping track of your team’s performance is critical because software projects are time-bound, and deadlines must be met. However, writing code is not a straightforward task. Several variables can affect a software developer’s progress on a ticket. It’s important to consider all the possible elements that may affect the process.
These are the specific metrics you can use to measure developer productivity.
1. Lines of Code (LOC)
Lines of Code (LOC) is a common metric to assess developer productivity. LOC serves as a rough estimate of productivity, based on the number of lines a developer writes in a certain timeline. However, this method of measuring should be considered with other metrics like code complexity, functionality, and meeting project deadlines. The LOC alone can’t accurately summarize a developer’s progress in a project.
Keep in mind that a high number of LOCs doesn’t guarantee more productivity. A developer can write fewer lines of concise, efficient code and still accomplish a task more effectively. Instead, use it as a supplementary tool to set a general coding standard as you evaluate the quality of code written.
2. Developer Velocity Index
Developer Velocity refers to the speed of delivery in software development. It measures how quickly developers can go from idea to production. The Developer Velocity Index is typically a unitless statistic representing the number of features and narrative points (or lines of code) delivered in a given time frame (sprint, day, week, or month).
This metric assesses developer productivity by measuring the amount of time it takes to finish various coding assignments or projects. One way to apply it is to get the average delivery time of the team. By measuring each member’s average time, you can make a better comparison in setting proper standards and expectations.
While coding time provides great insight into a developer’s performance, you have to factor in other variables that can affect it. Most software developers typically spend less than 50% of their work hours coding. They spend the majority of their duty hours attending meetings, troubleshooting, or doing other non-coding-related tasks. So, using coding time alone to measure productivity is not fair.
3. Talent level
Talent capability is an assessment of a developer’s individual knowledge, skills, and abilities based on industry-standard capability maps. Ideally, companies should strive for a “diamond” distribution of proficiency, with the majority of developers falling somewhere around the middle.
This can bring coaching and upskilling possibilities to light, and in extreme circumstances, it may need a reconsideration of talent strategy. Let’s say an organization discovered a higher concentration of their developers in the “novice” competence than was optimal. They implemented individualized learning paths based on specific gaps and were able to advance 30% of their developers to the next level of proficiency in less than six months.
How Do You Measure Developer Productivity
Measuring developer productivity is no easy task. Several factors account for providing a fair standard for the team. Nonetheless, by setting specific metrics, you can better understand how the team works and what affects their productivity in every project.
Here are tips on how to better manage software developer productivity.
1. Learn the Fundamentals of Software Development
Non-technical founders will have a harder time managing software development teams when they don’t have a technical background. If you’re not familiar with the technology, it’s important to hire reliable experts to educate you and the rest of the non-technical leaders in the company. This is the first step to setting standards in software development.
2. Review your systems
There’s no general standard of developer productivity because it’s unique per project and team goals. However, you may need to reconfigure your tech stack. A development team, for example, needs to equip its codebase with a tool that can track code executed during a test run to determine test coverage (the extent to which code regions have been adequately checked).
Getting lost in masses of data is a common issue with most analytics efforts. It’s important not to get carried away with all the available insights. Starting with one area that you know will result in a clear route to improvement, such as identifying friction points and bottlenecks, is essential. Be clear about the scope of your plan and work at them one step at a time.
4. Mind the context
Keep in mind that assessing productivity is situational. The goal is to examine a complete system and see how it may be improved by changing the system, team, or individual development environment.
Whatever approach you use, assessing productivity should ideally give transparency and insights into crucial areas for development. Only then can firms design particular strategies to impact both developer productivity and experience—an impact that benefits both those individuals and the company as a whole.
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