How to Use KPIs to Measure and Improve Software Quality: A Brief Guide

The BTC Team

Knowing what key performance indicators (KPIs) to use for measuring software quality is critical for project sponsors, project managers, quality assurance (QA) teams, and IT solution providers like Boston Technology Corporation.

In this blog, we focus on how you can use different KPIs to measure and improve software quality. Keep reading below to learn more!

Why should you consider using KPIs?

As mentioned above, a process to measure and assess KPIs is a critical tool in determining and improving your software’s quality, but what exactly is a KPI? And why should it matter to you?

Key performance indicators are “measurable values that demonstrate how effectively a process, activity, product or service is working.” You can use these forms of measurement to determine whether your software’s quality is optimal and, if not, what changes should be made to the development and testing process to achieve quality improvement.

Which KPIs can help measure the quality of your software?

In terms of software quality, several KPIs can be utilized to assess your software’s reliability, efficiency, security, and maintainability. Below are examples of KPIs that you can use to gain insight into the quality of your software:

1. Code Quality

Code quality metrics assess your software health through automated code reviews. If the assessment comes back with low KPI values, this could mean that the code is too complicated and will likely be problematic in terms of functionality and maintenance during support activities.

Examples of code quality metrics are:

  1. Maintainability index A software metric that measures how maintainable or easy to support/change the code is
  2. Cyclomatic complexity A software metric used to indicate a program’s complexity by quantitatively measuring the number of linearly independent paths through a program’s source code.
  3. Depth of inheritance The maximum length of a path from a class to a root class in a system’s inheritance structure to measure how many superclasses can affect a class
  4. Class coupling The degree of interdependence between software modules/a measure of how closely connected two routines or modules are
  5. Lines of code A software metric used to measure the size of a computer program by counting the number of lines in the text of the program’s source code

2. Agile Process

Agile process in regard to software development refers to discovering requirements and developing solutions through the collaborative effort of self-organizing and cross-functional teams and their customers. In terms of how this applies to software quality, several KPIs can be utilized to measure the responsiveness and timeliness of fixing reported issues with software quality.

The first KPI that can be used to measure this is lead time. Lead time refers to the time elapsed between the report of an issue and a fix made available for it. Using this KPI, you can evaluate this process and develop ways to reduce your lead time to be more responsive to customers/end-users.

Another area to look at is open/close rates, which refers to how many production issues are reported and closed within a specific time. Through this KPI, you can see if there is a consistent pattern of high number of reported issues and what the trendline is over time.

Lastly, cycle time refers to how long it takes you to change your software system and deliver that change into production.

3. Testing Quality

In terms of testing quality, several KPIs can demonstrate a software program’s maturity and production readiness. Examples of these KPIs include test coverage, a measure used to describe the degree to which a program’s source code is executed when a particular test case is completed.

Another KPI is defects found during user acceptance testing (UAT), reflecting the software quality level experienced by representative user teams. If the number of bugs discovered during UAT is close to the number of bugs found during the QA testing phase, it indicates that both testing and software engineering stages may need improvements. And lastly, defects found in production include bugs or errors encountered by users during ‘live’ usage of the software. High numbers of such bugs indicate issues with the testing process and cause significant process disruptions and user dissatisfaction.

4. Solution Availability

Another important group of KPIs measures solution availability, which helps determine uptime, availability, issue resolution efficiency, and data consistency.

Examples of these KPIs include:

  • Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF)

MTBF can be used for predicting software failures and evaluating the work of a support team. Low metric values can indicate insufficient system performance monitoring or poorly executed repair efforts in the past.

  • Mean Time To Recovery/Repair (MTTR)

MTTR shows how much time the team usually spends fixing software issues. The repair time covers only an active restoring period, testing, and returning to functionality. The recovery time starts from the initial issue detection and analysis and proceeds to repair. The difference especially matters in outsourced software development projects while negotiating a Service Level Agreement – both parties should acknowledge what they are measuring and how this process can affect software quality.

Keeping MTTR at the lowest number possible is critical in increasing software quality because it helps avoid extended downtime and consequential revenue loss.

  • Number Of Unavailability Cases

The metric indicates how many times over a period of measured time, an application failed and analyzes solution availability.

  • Application Crash Rate

This metric refers to how many times an application has failed divided by how many times it was used. This metric is usually used in conjunction with “Mean Time Between Failures” and “Mean Time To Recovery/Repair” to evaluate availability issues and address them.

5. Solution Security

One of the most critical KPIs regarding software quality deals with solution security, which shows the degree of exposure to security risks. To analyze this, the KPI that should be used is “Number and Severity of Security Incidents.” This metric focuses on identifying and prioritizing the incidents that post a potential security risk to software and can jeopardize user privacy, risk data security, and potentially cause business disruption.

Another KPI that can be used to reduce security risks is endpoint incidents. Endpoint incidents refer to how many endpoints (mobile devices, desktops, etc.) have experienced a virus infection over a given period of time. By gathering this information, you can use it to improve your software’s quality by pinpointing these incidents, analyzing them, correcting them, and coming up with a plan to prevent them.

How can BTC help?

By working with Boston Technology Corporation (BTC), you can streamline the Testing and Quality Assurance process using our knowledge and experience. We can analyze your apps and software to determine what areas can be improved to reach your goals. To see how BTC can guide you through this process and incorporate these KPIs into your company to check your software’s quality, click here.


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