What metrics should be tracked at a project level?

Tablet showing charts

Each new software development project has a certain level of risk attached to it, so it is imperative for businesses to have information available on the progress of each program. Metrics reports are a major benefit for quality assurance and development teams to ensure that everything is proceeding as expected and that any issues are caught early before release. While each project will have a different set of considerations to make, there are a few metrics that will be universally advantageous to track.

Overall productivity with resources
A major statistic to keep an eye on is the effective utilization of available resources, as this will have a direct impact on the project's profitability. Industry expert Suchitra Mishra noted that any deviations in utilization must be quickly remedied to get the project back on track and ensure that assets are being used at an optimal level. Doing so will help development teams keep up with demands and perform up to expectations.

"Delayed projects, increased ramp up activities, less work provided by customer, unplanned vacations, less competent resources can impact this metric," Mishra wrote. "To get better control over this quality metrics, robust time reporting systems should be available in the organization. Using this, project managers can analyze effort distribution across different project phases/activities."

Deviations in cost or schedule
In most businesses, there is often a set budget that developers must stick to in order to complete their projects. Similarly, deadlines are becoming more strict and often push the boundaries with less time available to develop a program. These two aspects are important to monitor as they have a direct effect on each other. If the funds run out prematurely, it could delay the project's progress, preventing it from achieving expected milestones and bypassing the completion date. If the schedule turns out to be longer than anticipated, this could raise the overall costs of the app and affect its profitability in the long run.

Consult 101 management consultant Anand Subramaniam noted in a presentation that by calculating the planned value of work scheduled against the actual cost, developers can see the overall expense of their projects. From these numbers, the schedule variance and cost variance can be determined. This will allow development teams and stakeholders to more accurately plan future initiatives and ensure that there will be enough funds and time available.

Quality of the app
Any software will likely have a few problems, even after its release which is why the role of effective test management tools is integral to the development process. Keeping tabs on the total number of defects per measure of code could provide information about the effectiveness of the QA team. Metrics can also watch how long it takes a defect to be fixed after it has been identified and the rate of closing defects over time. Tracking issues in an app does not stop once the program has been released to users; QA must ensure that quality standards are upheld throughout the lifetime of the project.

"The project manager needs to define, based on project type, what severe, low and medium [priority defect] means," Mishra wrote. "Quality should be reported throughout the life of the project; the later defects are caught, the more impact they will have on the project."

Each project will often entail different sets of software testing metrics to track, but quality, resource, productivity and cost/schedule deviations are all universal statistics that should be monitored. Other metrics that will be beneficial will be those that align with the specific project's goals and aspects that will help continue to improve the program. Creating a plan before the start of each project will determine what metrics/KPIs will be most important and will only add to the value offered by the three overarching categories.

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