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Developer Performance Metrics: Expectations vs. Reality

Software development is a complex process with many hidden activities, making it difficult for product leaders to measure developer performance and find a balance between traditional metrics and the evolving demands of the field. A recent survey about AI's impact on the developer experience reveals the difference between the metrics currently used to measure developers' performance and the metrics developers believe should be used, highlighting the importance of a holistic approach to measuring the efficiency of developers.

What metrics are used to measure developers' performance?

Based on the survey of 500 US-based developers working at companies with more than 1,000 employees, these are the top metrics used to measure developers' performance:

  • Code quality - 40% of responses highlight the importance of clean and efficient code
  • Time to complete a task - 34% focus on efficient task completion
  • Number of production incidents - 34% value minimizing disruptions
  • Lines of code written - 33% consider code quantity
  • Number of bugs or issues resolved - 33% track problem-solving

As can be seen, the top priority is given to the high-quality code that minimizes errors, enhances reliability, and reduces technical debt. However, despite the prevalence of these metrics in performance evaluation, developers suggest considering qualitative aspects of their work as well.

What metrics do developers think should be used to measure their performance?

Developers believe that accurate performance evaluation should include a broader range of metrics that reflect the complexity and impact of their work. In the survey, they highlighted the following metrics as the top priority:

  • Collaboration and communication - 35% of responses highlight the importance of teamwork
  • Code quality - 34%  focus on clean and efficient code
  • Number of bugs or issues resolved - 34% track problem-solving
  • Time to complete a task - 34% focus on efficient task completion
  • Test coverage - 32% emphasize the significance of testing
  • Velocity and quality of feature delivery - 32% stress the need to deliver features quickly while maintaining high quality.

Developers point out the importance of teamwork, efficient information sharing, and effective communication within development teams. It shows growing recognition that effective software development exceeds the quantity of code produced, acknowledging that not only the number of lines of code written or issues resolved reflects the developers' performance but also such metrics as collaboration, code quality, and the capacity to innovate. It is also confirmed by the continuous emergence of various new frameworks and approaches to measuring developers' productivity. SPACE framework or DevEx approach are among them.

Thus, striking a balance between quantitative and qualitative metrics is essential for a comprehensive assessment that accurately reflects the efficiency and contribution of developers. And while some metrics can be easily measured with the help of specialized apps like Awesome Graphs for Bitbucket, other metrics like collaboration and communication will require more effort, which is also worth considering when choosing metrics to measure developers’ performance.

Feel free to share if your company measures developer performance and what metrics are used.

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