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Measurement and Metrics in Software Development




Software measurements and indicators are used to gauge the quality, performance, and growth of software projects. Metrics may measure code complexity, testing coverage, and project velocity, among others. These metrics are used to identify areas for improvement, monitor progress over time, and make more informed decisions regarding how to manage and prioritize work.

Product Metrics vs Process Metrics

Software measurement and metrics can be divided into two main categories: product metrics and process metrics. Product metrics focus on the characteristics of the software product itself, such as code complexity, maintainability, and performance. These metrics help to evaluate the quality of the software and identify areas that need improvement. Examples of product metrics include:

  • Lines of code (LOC): A measure of the size of the software
  • Cyclomatic Complexity: A measure of the complexity of the code
  • Code coverage: A measure of how much of the code has been tested
  • Defect density: A measure of the number of defects per thousand lines of code

Process metrics, on the other hand, focus on the software development process itself, such as project velocity, productivity, and efficiency. These metrics help to evaluate the performance of the development team and identify areas where the process can be improved. Examples of process metrics include:

  • Lead time: The time it takes to go from code committed to code deployed
  • Mean Time To Recovery (MTTR): The average time taken to fix a failure
  • Velocity: The rate at which the team delivers working software
  • Defect escape rate: The percentage of defects that are not caught during the development process and are found later, in production or by the customer.

Using software measurement and metrics is an important part of managing software development projects, as they provide a way to objectively assess the progress and quality of the work, and to identify areas that need improvement. They can also be used to make data-driven decisions about how to manage and prioritize work, and to track progress over time.

How to apply software development metrics?

There are several ways to apply software development metrics in practice:

  1. Establish a set of metrics: Before you can start tracking metrics, you need to decide which metrics you want to measure. This will depend on the goals of your project and the specific characteristics of your development process.
  2. Collect data: Once you have a set of metrics, you need to collect data in order to measure them. This can be done using tools such as code analysis tools, testing tools, and project management software.
  3. Analyze the data: After collecting the data, you need to analyze it in order to extract meaningful insights. This can include identifying trends, comparing performance over time, and identifying areas for improvement.
  4. Communicate the results: It’s important to communicate the results of your metric analysis to relevant stakeholders. This can include the development team, project managers, and senior management.
  5. Take action: After identifying areas for improvement, you should take action to address them. This can include making changes to the development process, investing in new tools or training, or re-prioritizing work.
  6. Continuously measure: Software development metrics should be continuously measured, analyzed, and reported. This will help you to track progress over time and make more informed decisions about how to manage and prioritize work.

It’s also worth mentioning that not all metrics are equaly useful, and it’s important to know that a few key metrics that align with the goals of the project, can be more informative. It’s also important to note that mentioned metrics should not be used as the only driver for decision making, but more as a tool for informed decision making.

Mehdi Shokoohi

Software Quality Engineer

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