Project management key agile metrics and project management key performance indicators (KPIs) are essential for quickly tracking the progress of a project. They allow you to quickly monitor development, measure performance, and set goals—but how do you know what exactly is worth measuring for each project?
Below we will highlight the most common project management metrics used in various aspects of software development. It is important to note that not everything listed below is necessary for your project—you can pick those that are perfectly suited to track the development of your particular project, identifying your goals and success factors.
Project management metrics show a project manager (PM) how different areas are performing and those which may need improving and if they are quantifiable or countable. As we said above, these metrics are important for a variety of reasons, namely software performance measurement, work item planning, productivity management, etc.
Within a project, there are a large number of metrics that overlap with each other and are linked within the management function. The purpose of monitoring and analyzing agile software development metrics is defining the current product status, improving it, and, eventually, providing quality after the software development project is complete.
Starting from the basics, let’s look at 4 categories of management functions that are worth considering for your project management KPIs—time, budget, effectiveness, and quality.
Please note below we have provided all possible agile metrics for your complete understanding. You won’t need all of them, but hopefully, they will help you understand the best ways to manage and track your projects.
Formula: CPI = EV/AC; CPI = 1
Regardless of which project management methodology you choose, you can use the above-mentioned project management KPIs. But of course, none of this matters if the data are not collected and analyzed. The problem may arise from the fact that development teams may believe that actually getting the work done is more important than measuring progress. In this case, it’s better to have an experienced PM to handle issues.
The following agile project management metrics can help measure the work done and value delivered to customers.
This displays the amount of work accomplished in a sprint. This helps estimate what part of work the team can perform in future sprints. A more accurate match between commitments and costs is seen when the speed is tracked over a long period of time.
This indicator is individual and different for each team. Trying to artificially increase speed can undermine trust and decrease transparency between teams and management.
Speed also determines the team’s ability to work on backlogs. This may change over time and should be monitored to ensure consistent performance. Development problems and the need for change in the workflow will be clearly traced if there is a decrease in the predictability of the flow.
Displays how much work is left to manage before the end of the sprint. This criterion is valuable because it does not simply list the items completed, but shows the progress toward the goal. Also, the sprint burndown chart is indispensable in identifying planning errors that were made at the beginning of the sprint.
The sprint burndown chart is a traditional representation of a sprint’s progress. It gives the remaining hours to complete the tasks scheduled for the current sprint for each day during the sprint. This graph provides an instant view of whether the team is on schedule to complete the sprint.
Project management performance metrics are those that interlink with process efficiency. Let’s check the following metrics:
A measure of the time that has elapsed from the time an item (story, task, error, etc.) started until it is ready for delivery. The cycle time indicates how many calendar days it takes to complete a task.
Predictable results are shown by teams with constant cycle time. Moreover, teams with short cycle times have high throughput. By measuring cycle times, you can increase the flexibility of your processes. For example, in the case of changes, you can know the results instantly. As a result, team members can make necessary adjustments. Overall, short and consistent cycle times are a goal that should be achieved in every sprint.
Cycle time can be used not only to measure what the development team does—using the Kanban method, we break down all the work into stages and measure cycle time for stages such as:
This gives an indication of the distribution between actual work and waiting periods. This metric, for some reason, is often overlooked.
It is used to understand what is your process prevents you from pushing a task from start to release through the entire workflow.
For example, we can’t give tasks to the testing environment because the deployment is very complex and it needs a lot of time, so it doesn’t happen very often. Looking at flow efficiency, it’s worth thinking about auto-deployment every day to increase efficiency.
Provides consistency of workflow in the team. CFC measures the state of work in progress. With this in mind, you can take steps to speed up the workflow.
This criterion is described by a diagram that displays the number of various types of tasks at each stage of the project, where the x-axis represents dates, and the y-axis represents the number of points on the graph. The diagram shows obvious bottlenecks. You can analyze how the bottlenecks formed first, and the team can then take steps to eliminate them and make improvements.
The point is to visualize how tasks are divided up at different stages of the project. The bar on the graph with “completed” tasks should be constantly increasing. An increase in backlog always highlights unresolved tasks that are either out of date or too low a priority.
Also, this graph helps to understand how balanced the team is. For example, if the team is lacking QAs, the “Ready for testing” bar will steadily increase—this is an obvious bottleneck. Or, if the team doesn’t have enough backend developers, we’ll see that front-end tasks get blocked due to waiting for tasks from the backend side—bottleneck again.
Software quality metrics provide a better understanding of how reliable and safe your code can be. Some important ones among agile software development metrics are those below.
This measures the percentage of code covered by unit tests. This metric represents the percentage of code coverage in raw form and gives a worthy progress perspective, but it does not cover other types of testing. Thus, high code coverage rates do not necessarily mean high quality.
This visualizes the trends and variations occurring with the code base, both as a whole in progress and over time until release. Code churn measures how many lines of code have been added, removed, or changed.
While this metric may seem a little rudimentary, it provides a measure of code stability at different stages of development. You should expect the least stability in the early stages of development, and the most stability just before release, with the least churn. If your code is very unstable and the release date is approaching, sound the alarm.
This measures the complexity of the code and is often seen as a magic number to measure the complexity of a program. Less cyclomatic complexity = better code.
It does not cover all kinds of program complexity, but it allows you to clearly define functions with more loops, select statements, and switch/cases.
Formula: CYC = E – N + 2P
Choosing project management KPIs and agile metrics to monitor and measure is only the first step. Next, you need to define the KPIs so that they are clear and focused. Your KPIs should be agreed upon by all parties involved before the project begins and then measured and monitored as a decision-making tool during the project. Let’s focus on what can enforce your KPIs.
Often sets of software metrics are reported to software development teams as goals. That is, the focus is on: reducing the number of lines of code, reducing the number of bugs reported, etc. And as a result, we get the better utility of the software and a better user experience.
Software metrics are very seductive to management because complex processes are presented as simple numbers, and those numbers are easy to compare to other numbers, so when the software metric target is reached, it’s easy to declare success. Failure to reach that number lets software development teams know that they still need to work toward that goal.
These simple goals don’t provide as much information about how software metrics are changing, because any single data point is not as meaningful as the trend of which it is a part. Analyzing why a trend line is moving in a certain direction or at what rate it is moving will tell you more about the process, and trends will also show what effect any change in the process has on progress.
If the goal is not achieved, it can, unfortunately, be perceived as a failure, but a trend line that shows progress toward a goal provides encouragement and insight on how to reach that goal.
By breaking up the measurement periods into smaller time slots, the software team can check the software metrics—and the trend line—to determine how well they are progressing.
Yes, it’s intermittent, but giving software teams more time to analyze progress and change tactics if something isn’t working is very productive. Shorter measurement periods provide more data points that can be useful in meeting goals, not just data about software metrics.
If you are looking for a strong management team or have any questions on your next project’s agile metrics, contact NIX experts.
Make no mistake that the more software metrics you use, the better the result of the project. There is a risk that numerous ratings, scores, and agile metrics will simply overwhelm you with numbers.
It is worth carefully selecting a few of the most appropriate project management metrics—depending on the goals of the project—and stick to them. To find out exactly what you should measure in your project and what you shouldn’t waste your resources on, contact our experts.
Evgeniy is an experienced project manager leading high-scope multi-disciplinary projects through an entire software development lifecycle, ensuring the project is delivered on time, budget, and with respective quality standards.
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