Why is metrics in software engineering important? Developers and company managers always worry about their final project’s quality. While the engineers simply want to provide the best service, business owners prioritize success and customer loyalty. Sometimes this may cause disagreements. That’s why every entrepreneur needs to know about the main metrics that define software quality.
In this article, we will discuss the 3 types of metrics in software quality assurance. But before we start it is good to know what are software metrics.
WHAT ARE SOFWARE METRICS?
A software metric is a measure of software characteristics that are quantifiable or countable. Within the software development process, there are many metrics that are all related to each other. Software metrics are important for many reasons, including measuring software performance, planning work tasks, measuring productivity, and many other uses. Furthermore, Metrics are heavily relied on in the financial analysis of companies by both internal managers and external stakeholders. Before we dive into the IT world with quality metrics, it is better to start with their purpose. Why do you even need to use these processes? Let’s take a closer look at the main advantages of software metrics.
WHY USE SOFTWARE QUALITY METRICS?
- Productivity. One of the most valuable aspects of an app is fast data processing. The less time it spends on performing the tasks the better. Some metrics help to increase and track the project’s productivity and solve urgent issues.
- Decision making. Such metrics can come in handy when estimating the influence of the decisions made. PMs and CEOs can sort out objectives, priorities, and avoid impulsive resolutions. It helps them to make deliberate compromises, optimize the project, and achieve the goals of software quality assurance.
- Data sorting. You can use metrics to reduce misunderstandings and ambiguities in complex projects. By utilizing the software you will obtain objective information.
- Priorities. With metrics, managers will no longer have difficulties while tracking, identifying, or prioritizing the project’s issues. They can communicate these things to all the organization’s departments.
- Progress management. Is the project meeting the delivery schedule? Is everything going well? It is important to control the project’s progress and results, and always have answers to questions that arise. Such metrics show the software product’s status as well as its quality and changes through the lifecycle.
- Management strategy. There are some risks that you have to estimate, control, and prioritize. Metrics help to manage such issues and avoid future costly resolutions. They determine errors and correct technical parts of the project as well as facilitate management strategies.
TYPES OF METRICS
Source code metrics
These are measurements of the source code that make up all your software. Source code is the fundamental building blocks of which your software is made, so measuring it is key to making sure your code is high-caliber. Looking closely enough at even your best source code you might spot a few areas that you can optimize for even better performance.
When measuring source code quality make sure you’re looking at the number of lines of code you have. This will ensure that you have the appropriate amount of code and it’s no more complex than it needs to be. Another thing to track is how compliant each line of code is with the programming languages’ standard usage rules. Equally important is to track the percentage of comments within the code, which will tell you how much maintenance the program will require. A lower amount of comments means there will be more problems when you decide to change or update the code. Other things to include in your measurements is code duplications and unit test coverage, which will tell you how smoothly your product will run (and at when are you likely to encounter issues).
These metrics measure the custom software development process itself. Gathering development metrics help make your operations more efficient and reduce incidents of software errors.
Measuring the number of defects within the code and time to fix them tells you a lot about the development process itself. Start by tallying up the number of defects that appear in the code and note the time it takes to fix them. If any defects have to be fixed multiple time then there might be a misunderstanding of requirements or a skills gap – which is important to address as soon as possible.
These metrics help you evaluate how functional your product is.
There are two major testing metrics. One of them is “test coverage” that collects data about which parts of the software program are executed when it runs a test. The second part is a test of the testing itself. It’s called “defect removal efficiency,” and it checks your success rate for spotting and removing defects.
The more you measure, the more you know about your software product, the more likely you are able to improve it. Automating the measurement process is the best way to measure software quality – it’s not the easiest thing, or the cheapest, but it’ll save you tons of costs down the line.
Other than the three, you can also consider:
- Product metrics − Describes the characteristics of the product such as size, complexity, design features, performance, and quality level.
- Process metrics − These characteristics can be used to improve the development and maintenance activities of the software.
BENEFITS OF SOFTWARE METRICS
The goal of tracking and analyzing software metrics is to determine the quality of the current product or process, improve that quality and predict the quality once the software development project is complete. On a more granular level, software development managers are trying to:
- Increase return on investment (ROI)
- Identify areas of improvement
- Manage workloads
- Reduce overtime
- Reduce costs
These goals can be achieved by providing information and clarity throughout the organization about complex software development projects. Metrics are an important component of quality assurance, management, debugging, performance, and estimating costs, and they’re valuable for both developers and development team leaders.
CHOOSING YOUR METRICS
The only way to maximize the chances of releasing high-quality software and creating a highly agile software development environment is to adapt some formula of the above aspects and metrics combined. Comprehensively testing and managing quality will ultimately lead to the greater overall value of the software to its users.
Many companies over time have chosen to focus on just a few to determine quality. For example, look at Facebook’s practice of weighing greatly on performance and user return. No matter what is tested and determined the goal remains the same—to deliver quality software that is worth releasing and valuable to the user.
In general, measuring quality is the key to developing high-quality software. It is safe to say that the main goals of this article were successfully achieved. However, the usage of software metrics is important in an organization and has a beneficial effect on software organizations by making software quality more visible.
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