What is Software Metrics in Software Engineering?
Software engineering teaches us that a software metric is both a countable and quantifiable characteristic feature of the software used in testing, DevOps, planning, improving productivity, and more. These are related to the four core areas of software management, namely:
Characteristics of a Software Metric:
So, here’s a list of characteristics needed for software metrics. The software metric is:
- Computable and simple
- The objective is unambiguous and consistent
- The units of measurement are consistent throughout the product life cycle
- The metric is not programming language-dependent
- It is adaptable and easy to obtain or calibrate
- The metric is the cost-effective way to go
- It can be validated for reliability and accuracy
- It aids the development of better and higher-quality processes or products
Let us quickly look at the various benefits software metrics bring to the table.
Software Metrics Benefits:
The software metrics play a crucial role in predicting the quality and performance or controlling the production of processes/products in software engineering in the following ways:
- ROI or return on investment increases
- Suggest improvements in both the process and product
- Effectively manage the workload of the development of the product/process
- Lead to reductions in costs and overtime
- Provide clarity of information and thought in the production and development cycles
- Aid the processes of management, quality assurance, debugging, estimating costs and performance, controlling the processes of DevOps teams, and more
- Help managements communicate, track, prioritize, and identify issues in software development projects
- Teams in software development use software metrics to communicate the progress or status of development projects, issue resolution, workflow monitoring, Project planning and automated workflows.
- Software metrics affect the key decisions, performance goals, and project assessment
- Optimizing code, errors, and troubleshooting becomes easier when insights into the integrated logs, error lists, code-level performance, etc.
Lack of clarity in Software Metrics:
The description of software metrics has multiple ways to count characteristics and definitions. For example, LOC or lines of code in software development is an important metric that can be counted in two ways:
- The first method counts a physical line ending with a return, including comments, dead code lines, etc.
- The second method counts only the logical statements as a code line, thereby avoiding counting errors involving the comments, dead code lines, etc.
This means that the same metric in a single software package could produce different results when no standard definition of the software metrics in software engineering is available. Hence, the measurement method and its units need to be defined at the start of the project and maintained through the software lifecycle.
Tracking Software Metrics:
Metrics tracking is great for production and management teams since they are crucial to the decision-making process. Measuring performance/productivity, tracking and monitoring software development through efficient goal-setting, etc., can be considered essential steps. But using software metrics in an organization that lays importance on the volume of errors and code can prove counterproductive.
Software developers in such a situation may avoid tackling issues and bugs to keep their errors down and LOC up. Hence, only metrics that add value to the process or project should be monitored to ensure that the developer’s skills are well-used and not just volumes of simple LOC written to boost the software metrics. There is a school of thought that uncollected metrics are never analyzed and work done is more important than measuring work achieved. But remember that metrics collected and analyzed can boost productivity when it has the below characteristics.
How to get the best of Software Metrics?
The primary goal of automatically measuring the metrics by software development platforms is to track, measure, and use the benefits of software metrics gainfully. The best way to achieve this is through the following methods:
- Link the metrics to team goals to enhance focus.
- Reducing LOC and bugs
- Increase software iteration numbers
- Quicken the task completion process
- Track your changing trends and not the target numbers to achieve progress.Metrics quantify the goals and depict progress. But, it is essential to learn from trends and not declare a failure or success due to just numbers.
- Have short time frames and measurement periods to measure the trend line progress, software metrics at data points, and achieve progressive team goals.
- Ensure software metrics lead to repeated actions and change.
Software Metrics Examples:
Here are examples of essential metrics in software development:
Agile process metrics like
- Lead time
- Cycle time
- Team velocity
- Open/close rates
Production metrics like
- Active days
- Assignment scope
- Code churn
- MTBF or Mean time between failures and MTTR or mean time to repair/recover
- ACR or Application crash rate
Security metrics like
Mean time to repair (MTTR)
Size-oriented metrics like errors, defects, and cost per KLOC
Function-oriented metrics like
Errors or Defects per FP
Defect Removal Efficiency (DRE)
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