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8 Essential Metrics to Measure Developer Productivity in 2022

How to Measure Developer Productivity

Employees' productivity is a key performance indicator, and software developers are no different. Every company has to measure productivity to ensure employees are ticking things off their to-do lists and delivering performance. Moreover, evaluating developers' performance has become essential because most programmers have worked remotely since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Project managers and team leaders must know how to measure developer productivity. Suppose you are managing a software development team. In that case, you can measure engineers' productivity using metrics such as lines of code, number of commits, pull requests, code reviews, number of tests, and releases. Measuring all these parameters is possible. However, keep in mind that writing more code lines may not always be productive.

So, how do you measure a software developer's productivity? There isn't a single metric - you must consider multiple parameters and follow the right ways to measure it accurately. This article discusses why companies measure software engineers' productivity and how to do it correctly.

What is developer productivity?

Developer productivity means efficiency in terms of different performance metrics at any given time. The metrics vary from one company to another. Every organization creates parameters they can track (for example, number of code lines, code reviews, bugs fixed done) to measure a developer's performance. Besides these factors, there are other things to consider, such as lead time, code churn, and active days to evaluate productivity.

Why do companies measure developers' productivity?

Productivity measurement is essential for every company to run the business operation smoothly. In the case of software development, evaluating developer performance is a must as software projects are time bound, and you have to complete them before the deadline. Besides that, there are a few more reasons to do so:

To gauge developer abilities

It is one of the most critical reasons to measure a developer’s productivity. In the software development field, a little delay in project completion can cost you dearly and allow your competitors to move ahead.

So, if you are into the software development business, a delay can damage your reputation, and you may also lose clients. You need to gauge your developers' efficiency to determine whether your team can meet tight deadlines and build quality software solutions that meet business requirements.

In fact, if you are measuring your employee's productivity the right way, you can make critical business decisions like when the project will go live and how much time your team will take to deliver a particular project.

To identify any skill gap

Knowing how to measure developer productivity is essential for everyone heading a software development team. Evaluating your employees' efficiency helps you determine how every employee is performing. You can know if an employee's performance is up to the expectations or if they are lacking in some area.

It lets you understand if training is needed to improve productivity. For example, you may have ten developers in the team, and one or two don't have adequate knowledge of new technology. You can arrange a training program to improve their skills in such cases.

To improve operational decision-making

A company must know how productive its developers are to make better operational decisions. Based on the productivity measurements, it can conclude that delay in project completion is because of inefficient developers, or there are other explanations like project complexity, insufficient manpower, etc.

Productivity measurement lets you determine the exact cause for any bottlenecks while enabling you to make data-driven decisions in order to improve the development team's performance.

Why is prioritizing your to-do list essential?

A software development team may have multiple tasks to perform simultaneously. Some tasks are of high priority, while others are not at a given time. If a developer spends time doing low-priority work, they aren't using the time effectively and can't be productive.

Setting priority will help improve developer productivity and ensure the high-priority tasks are completed first. Some jobs can be important, but they may not be urgent. The idea is to ensure that high-priority tasks are completed first.

How do you measure a developer's productivity?

Developer productivity does not depend on a single metric. You have to consider multiple parameters to determine that. For example, if you want to evaluate developer productivity by the number of code lines they write or the hours they spend in the office, you will miss crucial context and be unable to measure productivity accurately.

Some developers may spend more hours than the stipulated work time but not deliver high-quality code. So, how do you measure software developer productivity the right way? Here are five factors you must consider:

Efficiency

It is one of the most important metrics to measure any developer's productivity, and it's not easy. Developers' efficiency and flow are measures of how much progress they can make without others' help and interruption. However, software developers usually work in teams, and their efficiency shows the team's productivity. It is challenging to measure individual performance as, typically multiple engineers work on one project.

You can not measure every developer's efficiency with the same metrics since they work on different things most of the time. For example, a developer trying to find a new solution will require more time for research, while someone modifying an existing project will need less time. However, you can consider the following factors to measure efficiency.

  • Ability to efficiently complete assigned tasks on time
  • Ability to work individually

Code churn

Software developers write hundreds or thousands of code lines for a project, and maintaining quality is challenging. However, writing code is not enough; they need to ensure quality. If they have to rework multiple times, it affects their productivity and increases the project delivery time.

Code churn is the percentage of a developer's code that requires an edit. You can measure it as lines of code (LOC) that need modification over a short period. Measuring churn allows project managers, team leaders, and other stakeholders to control the quality of the software development process.

Lead time

It is the time required from the inception of a software project to the delivery time. This factor plays a critical role in maintaining business efficiency, and software development companies should keep this factor in mind while measuring the developer’s productivity.

Looking at the lead time historical data, you can determine how much time it will take to complete a project. Even though you can't measure the exact timeframe, you can get an approximate idea. Measuring lead time for a development team lets you know how productive the team member is and plan the project accordingly.

Cycle time

This metric measures the time spent between the beginning and completing a task. It helps in assessing software development velocity. It can be divided into four different phases:

  • Coding time: This metric refers to the time for writing code; the time between the first commit and creating a pull request.

  • Pickup time: It is the period between when the PR is created to the time when the review begins.

  • Review time: It refers to the time between the start of the review, and the code is merged.

  • Deploy time: It is the time from when the code is merged till when it is released.

Activity

Developer activity is the number of actions performed during work. Even though it does not help you measure developer productivity directly, it can give you some insights. It is almost impossible to measure the actions a developer takes on a given day. However, you can consider design docs counts, pull requests, code reviews, build counts, deployment frequency, etc. done to measure Developer activity.

Communication and collaboration

Software development is teamwork, and every member has to communicate and collaborate with others to complete their tasks efficiently and on time. It doesn't matter how knowledgeable a developer can be, but it's essential to collaborate with other team members to ensure the end product is the best.

Developing an application requires creativity, and there may be instances when one person may run short of ideas. Teamwork and collaboration is the best way to handle such situations and get a fresh idea. Companies can assess developers based on how well they communicate & collaborate with other members and assist them when needed.

Mean time to recover (MTTR)

It is a critical metric to measure developer productivity. It refers to the software's average time to recover from a system failure. It is the time spent during an outage – from the moment it stops functioning till it becomes operational. This metric is usually used in assessing a team's productivity.

Job satisfaction and well-being

Software development is a creative job, and a healthy work environment is essential for innovation. In the end, every developer is a human being first, and they can only deliver the best when they are in the right frame of mind. Hence, the team culture, work environment, and other factors will affect a developer's productivity.

Since developers' productivity and well-being are correlated, it's essential to understand what matters to developers. Working on a complex project and hectic schedule, too many meetings can cause burnout and lead to dissatisfaction. That’s why companies must take the right measures to ensure employee satisfaction and well-being.

Tools to measure developer productivity

Project management tools

These tools help developers and other stakeholders to plan and manage projects and to ensure the team achieves the project goals within the defined time. It also enables developers and other team members to collaborate effectively and track real-time progress. Top project management tools include Jira, Asana, Trello, and Kissflow.

  • Jira: Jira was originally designed as a bug tracker but has been developed into a powerful work management tool.

  • Asana: It is a work management platform designed to help organize, and manage work.

  • Kissflow: This cloud-based platform automates business processes and helps team track performance. It is suitable for both small and large businesses.

Collaboration tools

Collaboration tools are software programs or platforms that help team members streamline the creative process and work together more efficiently to complete the project on time. These tools are very effective for team members working remotely. Some of the top tools for collaboration are Slack, Zoom, and GoToMeeting. Online communication tools help team members talk to each other individually or in a group, irrespective of where they are.

  • Slack: It is a communication app that allows people to communicate with each other or in a group. It's better organized and secure than email.

  • Zoom: This modern communication tool is mostly used for video conferences, and webinars. Millions of people across the globe use it.

  • GoToMeeting: It is another online meeting tool used for video meetings and webinars.

Employee engagement tool

Employee engagement tools help businesses connect with their employees to understand their sentiments and offer feedback. Companies use these tools to assess their employees' motivation to achieve business goals. Empuls, Bonusly, and Awardco, are among the top employee engagement tools businesses use these days.

  • Empuls: It is an employee engagement tool that enables organizations to connect with employees, reward and recognize them.

  • Bonusly: Bonusly is an employee recognition and rewards platform that helps everyone in the organization recognize others publicly by giving small bonuses that enrich your company culture.

  • Awardco: It is the only employee recognition platform that integrates with Amazon to recognize and reward employees and better employee experience.

Conclusion

Measuring developer productivity is essential since it directly impacts business growth. It helps in determining the project cost and finding the scope for improvements for developers. Moreover, it directly affects the company's revenue and profits.

However, many organizations don't know how to measure developer productivity and approach it incorrectly. They struggle to produce desired results which costs them in the long run.

That’s why it is crucial to understand the above-mentioned metrics and incorporate them into your strategies for optimal results. Moreover, improving your software development team productivity starts with hiring talented remote developers.

If you are looking to scale your software development team with the best talent, join Turing and hire pre-vetted developers from a global talent pool. Turing is an industry leader in helping enterprises hire highly skilled developers from across the world. Our AI-backed talent sourcing allows you to hire remote developers in 3-5 days.

Author

  • Author

    Subhasish Dutta

    Subhasish is a science graduate but a passionate writer and wordsmith who writes website content, blogs, articles, and social media content on technologies, the equity market, traveling, and other domains. He has worked with Affnosys and FTI Technologies as a content writer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Developer productivity refers to a developer's productivity based on certain metrics during a specific period. Every organization designs criteria to track and set goals to gauge developer productivity.

Different types of developer productivity tools are:

Code Execution Productivity Tools: Geekflare, CodeSandbox.io, and The Silver Searcher Time Tracking Productivity Tools for Developers: Desktime Automation Productivity Tools for Developers: AutoHotKey and Macro Recorder

Software development companies usually focus on these three things to measure developer performance:

  • Speed: How quickly does a developer write code?

  • Quality: What is the quality of the code written?

  • Teamwork: How helpful is the developer with other team members?

Some companies may include other parameters, Lead time, ability to work individually, and other parameters to measure developer productivity.

It can take from three to six months for a developer to be fully competent in their role. However, you can reduce the period with proper onboarding.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are values that measure the performance of your software development business overall. Here are the five KPIs.

  • Revenue growth
  • Revenue per client
  • Profit margin
  • Client retention rate
  • Customer satisfaction

Productive developers can build better solutions to automate business operations and help companies achieve their business goals. In one word, developer productivity is critical for business growth.

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