metrics monitoring

Metrics Monitoring: Choosing the right KPIs

Iryne Somera Developer Tips, Tricks & Resources

Software metrics measure a software’s characteristics in a countable manner. That is why tracking the metrics is a huge part of the development stage. The goal of system metrics monitoring is to determine the quality of the product or process during the development and deployment stages.

However, not all metrics are beneficial to your software development. That is why you need key performance indicators (KPI) that will help your processes to move forward.

KPI is a tool that every organization wields to measure how effectively a business achieves its goals. 

In this article, we will tackle:

  • the importance of KPIs for efficient metrics monitoring
  • choosing the right KPIs
  • four KPI groups to ensure software quality

New call-to-action

How Important are KPIs in Metrics Monitoring

KPI is a quantifiable report of a software’s measurable progress against a result. It is a software metric that calibrates a software’s quality over time. But a KPI is rendered useless if it does not inspire an action.

Metrics monitoring through KPI helps project managers plan and control the software development process. The metrics help them analyze the data to make sound decisions when it comes to product or process changes.

Generally, KPIs help project managers to:

  • control the project progress
  • reduce project cost
  • increase ROI
  • correct distribution of tasks
  • manage workload

By monitoring KPI metrics, your development team removes ambiguity inherent in software products which, in turn, results in maximum productivity. The metrics also alerts the team of what works and what does not within the project. This awareness helps managers allocate the right resources for each task, maximizing the team’s talent pool and development timeline.

Choosing the right KPIs for Successful Metrics Monitoring

Metrics have no weight in software development unless they are paired with your business goals; this is a paraphrase from Steven A. Lowe, a Product Technology Manager at Google. It does not matter if you have all the data and metrics.  Without aligning them to your business goals, they are just mere data.

You don’t need a handful of KPI metrics for your software team. All you need is the right KPI to help you improve your product or process.

An effective way of choosing the right KPI metrics for your software development team is using the SMART method.

1. Specific

Specify your goal and objective. Is your objective specific enough that your whole team understands what needs to be done?

Unclear objectives lead to an unorganized development process with lots of unnecessary work and changes. A clear and definitive objective points the team to the right focal point, removing redundant processes during development.

2. Measurable

If you can’t measure it then you can’t improve it. Your KPI must give a clear expression of what solution or process you need to measure. A comprehensive and descriptive performance measurement renders more accurate metric reports. Here are a few performance measure categories:

·         Activity measure – measures the activity of the software. This includes percentage, number, currency, and even activities or processes.

  • Outcome measure – measures the progress against a destined outcome.
  • Project measure – measures the progress of the whole project.
  • Target structure – represents numeric results against a date.

3. Assignable

The KPI should be assigned to a member or a team. Each KPI group should have “owners” to actively drive progress. It is best not to constantly change the owner of the KPI metric to avoid confusion and mismanagement.

4. Realistic

This method is tricky due to its subjectivity. Evaluate and thoroughly assess your team whether the KPI is achievable. Be realistic in your evaluation rather than too idealistic.

5. Time-bound

Assign a specific timeframe for every KPI. A metric needs to have a defined tracking frequency. Constantly ask this question: “Is there a specific timeframe on when you can achieve the goal?”

Here is a checklist to know if your KPIs are strategic:

  • Provide a way to see if your strategy is working
  • Can focus the attention of members on the team’s main goal
  • Provide common language and understanding
  • Is valid and realistic
  • Is verifiable and report accurate data

5 KPI Groups for Software Quality

Below, we gathered effective KPI metrics according to the quality groups you need to measure. Some metrics may not work for all software, but these work for most software development teams.

1. Code Quality

Code quality metrics assess software health through automated code reviews. To measure the code quality, you need another software that will trace code per code, line per line to show the value of your coding system.

Low-value codes indicate a too complex system. This poses a difficulty in terms of extending functionality and running support activities.

To measure the code quality, you need to know key traits to focus on.

·         Reliability A quality code must run without failure throughout the operation.

·         Maintainability – the software should be easy to maintain. Maintainable source code relies on factors such as test ability and understandability.

·         Testability – software must do well with software support testing efforts.

·         Portability – a quality code enables the software to run in different environments.

There are five main metrics you can use to quantify the quality of your code:

  • Maintainability index
  • Complexity metrics
  • Depth of inheritance
  • Class coupling
  • Lines of code

Tools like Stackify’s Retrace Code Profiling solution monitors what your code is doing. Retrace tracks your code’s key methods and collects detailed snapshots on how your code helps improve code performance.

KPI software can analyze many things to help you make decisions about your business. KPI reports will consist of document reports, spreadsheets, charts, and trends. Why are these numbers important to a business? It’s simple, that’s how a business can see downturns and upticks in the industry they are in. These numbers help companies forecast what they plan to do in the future. KPI software can help you do this. One of the hardest parts in business is to see what the future will look like as far as sales and business.

KPI software gives an idea of what it may look like based on the data from the past. Management can use these reports and compare them with other reports to spot trends in the business cycle. KPI software also makes forecasting easier, which means more for the bottom line of your company. Having an idea of what is coming up lets you put money where it’s needed most and save it when it’s not needed. This will help your company’s bottom line.

Learn more about Stackify’s application performance management tool, Retrace, with a 14 day, free trial.

2. Testing Quality

The testing quality KPI group measures the readiness of the software for consumer use. It measures the progress, productivity, quality, and health of the software testing method  and process. The goal of this group is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the software testing process.

To determine the degree of the QA team’s testing quality, here are some guide metrics.

·         Test effort – measure the number of tests conducted during a period of time.

Example: Number of tests in a certain time period = Number of tests run/Total time

·         Test effectiveness – shows a percentage of the test’s success rate and the level of the test cases. The test is conducted by calculating the number of bugs detected by a specific test over the total number of bugs found for the website or application. A high percentage indicates a quality test.

·         Test coverage – percentage of software requirements covered with test cases.

Example: Test coverage percentage = (Number of tests run/Number of tests to be run) x 100

·         Test team – measures the work allocation for each team member. This metric includes:

  • Number of defects returned per member
  • Number of open bugs to be retested by each member
  • Number of test cases allocated to each member
  • Number of test cases executed by each member

3. Solution Availability

Evaluates the capability of the team in terms of troubleshooting and improving application performance.

·         Mean time between failures (MTBF)

It tracks both availability and reliability of the software. At the same time, it evaluates the work of the support team. High time between failure means the system is more reliable. Low metric indicates poor system performance monitoring and unsatisfactory repair jobs in the past.

MTBF is presented by gathering data from a period of time (months or years) and dividing the period’s total operational time by the number of failures.

·         Mean time to recovery/repair (MTTR)

It shows how long the development team takes to do repairs. Repair time pertains only to active restoring period, testing, and returning to functionality. Recovery time is from initial issue detection and analysis until the repair action.

4. Security Metrics

This KPI group is used to plan vulnerability management activities. Software security is an essential part of software development. Metrics monitoring on this KPI group will indicate the maturity of the system, indicating that it is ready to launch to users.

These are the metrics that can measure the solution security:

·         No. of vulnerabilities detected through regular penetration

A metric that expresses the product’s degree of exposure to security risk. The software is regularly checked for vulnerability. If the degree of exposure decreases, it means the solution matures in terms of security. An increase would mean the updates are not efficient and are deployed into production in a rush.

·         No. of known vulnerabilities unresolved

This metric measures the unresolved security risks in the software. Monitoring unresolved security vulnerabilities keeps track of software loopholes and helps the team plan timely actions to improve security.

·         No. and severity of security incidents

This will update the team on the total number of security incidents as well as the status of each security threat. Metrics monitoring on this KPI helps developers attend each vulnerability according to the level of priority.

User Satisfaction

User satisfaction is measured with the participation of users through a survey. This is conducted by offering users to rate their overall experience of the application. This metric helps the development team in enhancing the application. This metric is usually measured through these parameters:

  • Does the application meet user expectations on functionality?
  • Is the user interface convenient?
  • Is the software performance stable?

Don’t Underestimate Metrics Monitoring

Metrics monitoring shows essential statistics on your application, network, and server.  This can only be done with the right KPI metrics in your development process. However, you will find that there are a lot of KPI metrics to choose from. In choosing the right KPI, you need to be SMART.

Most KPI metrics require software for accurate rendering of data. That is why you need an application performance monitoring tool to optimize the performance of your website or application. When it comes to APM, Retrace from Stackify is your best bet. With Retrace, you can ensure granular testing to track your product’s overall performance and continue its improvement.

About Iryne Somera

Iryne Somera is a professor in the Department of Computer Engineering. She loves to research and write articles related to computing technology such as Computer Hardware Fundamentals, Management Information Systems, Software Development and Project Management. In her spare time, she loves to experiment in her kitchen with her healthy breakfast ideas.