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Software Development Benchmarks and Metrics for Measuring Productivity

About half of developers spend less than 20 hours coding. Check out our new blog for 5 developer productivity stats that every product leader needs to know.

When it comes to improving a software team’s performance, access to accurate performance and productivity data is key. Not only can it help you check in with how your team is tracking on important projects or in your overall sprint, but it can also help you identify potential blockers and issues early before you miss an important deadline.

There are two ways to benchmark your success when looking at your team’s productivity. The first is to take a look at your team’s historical data by measuring your team’s improvement over time. And the second is to benchmark your team’s productivity metrics with other software teams to see if you’re living up to industry standards. Both can provide eye-opening insights.

Since we provide a tool for productivity management for software teams, we’re privy to a lot of insightful data on team performance. In the spirit of iteration and improvement, we’ve put together this short productivity metrics benchmark article to help you see how your team measures up.

💡 Before we dive in, it’s important to note that when we analyzed the data generated by Zenhub, we narrowed the data pool to user stories that actually made it out of the in-progress pipeline, so we could get rid of any outliers that never quite made it out of the in-progress graveyard. In Zenhub, you can designate which pipeline you want us to count as ‘in progress’ for data purposes, so this is the parameter we used to get this data.

The average time user stories are ‘in progress’ in our productivity management platform

The first software development metric we’re looking at is average time user stories are in progress. On your own team, this metric is important for measuring how quickly your team completes the first round of work on a user story.

The average time user stories or user stories are ‘in progress’ is 5.5 days

Is your team above or below this? It’s important to remember that even if you’re above this, it may not be the end of the world since no two teams are alike. But if you’re too far above this, you may want to break your user stories into smaller chunks or examine if your team may be under-resourced.

The average time user stories are ‘in review’ in our productivity management platform

The next productivity metric for software development we took a look at is the average time in review. We used the same criteria as mentioned above, basing this off the pipeline Zenhub users designated as in review.

The average time user stories or user stories are ‘in review’ is 6.3 days

When looking at this metric, it’s not surprising that the review process could take slightly longer than the development process. Here are a few hypotheses for why this could be:

  1. Teams typically don’t have as many QA team members as developers, so if one QA is responsible for reviewing the entire team’s work, it could easily become a bottleneck
  2. Agile purists believe that you shouldn’t drag a user story backward on your board, so user stories may live in the review pipeline while they are being re-worked
  3. Teams may leave the user story in the review column until they are ready to push to production

How does your team stack up?

Percent of user stories completed in a sprint

When measuring how effective you and your development team are at planning work, it’s helpful to look at what percent of user stories are being completed in a sprint.

If you’re consistently missing the mark, you’re likely pulling in too many user stories. While this may seem harmless because they can roll over to the next sprint, it can be detrimental to your developers’ productivity. Consistently overloading your sprint backlog not only means you won’t meet your sprint goals, but it could also lead to issues of context switching and bring a lack of focus to the most critical tasks at hand.

On average, 47% of issues in a sprint are closed by the end of the sprint

This is based on the average sprint in Zenhub having approximately 27 issues, and 11 of them being completed.

In a perfect world, it’s rare to get a flawless burndown chart where all user stories planned are being completed – even if it’s so incredibly satisfying to see. Product owners and managers should be aiming to help their team achieve the highest number possible. And work on improving this number over time.

As you can see in the benchmarking number above, this is a challenge across many development teams.

Empower your team with a productivity management platform for developers

Manually pulling data is like pulling teeth. Trying to parse this data for your own team can be highly time-consuming when using tools that aren’t quite the right fit for this task.

At the core of every product and software development team is a desire to improve and to iterate – it’s a fundamental part of the software development process and something we also live by at Zenhub. Selfishly, a lot of our greatest ideas stem from internal gaps or needs. Not only do we want to build the best productivity management software for software developers around the world, we also want to make our own lives easier, since we use our product every day.

We saw that product folks need a lightweight, calculation-less way of seeing team productivity at a high level. Without a spreadsheet. Without a calculator. Without additional tools. Without any extra steps. And that’s how Productivity Insights was born.

Productivity Insights lets you see your software development team’s most up-to-date productivity metrics at a glance at, at any point in time. Easily review your development team’s:

  • Average time in cycle, both in development and in review
  • Anomalies, issues that take 1.5x longer than the average cycle time
  • Sprint progress and scope changes
  • Percent of issues and story points completed
  • Average Velocity

And if you need more detail, you can quickly click into pre-configured reports to dig into why something may look different than usual.

We’re really proud of this new feature and can’t wait to see how having these metrics on stand-by improves your team’s ways of working. Knowledge is power, after all!

To learn more about measuring developer productivity, read this blog.


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