5 Essential Software Development Metrics to Measure Team Health

Posted by Kasey Jones on Tue, Jul 18, 2017

All too often, software development dashboards focus only on quantitative data and performance metrics like velocity, escaped bugs, and ticket churn. We agree that these metrics are critical to your team's overall success, but there's another category of KPI that is vital to the long-term productivity of your team. Some people refer to this group of software development metrics as Team Health or Team Happiness. At Notion, we call this category of KPIs, Team Joy. 

The tricky part with measuring Joy is that this category by definition looks at qualitative information - the feelings of team members - which is challenging to measure in any systematic fashion. After all, a common pitfall with metrics and KPIs is to track only what is easy to measure, which inevitably tells only part of the story. So we advocate using a blend of regular team polls and other team health measurements to understand not just how your team is performing, but how they feel about their work. 

In case you haven't heard, the Notion team is furiously working on oour Essential Guide to Software Development Metrics (which should be released shortly!) and our Joy metrics represents the fourth section of our guide. We segment software development team metrics into four distinct categories: Speed, Accuracy, Quality, and Joy (for more insight into why we choose this framework, read co-founder and Chief Product Officer, Kevin Steigerwald's piece on the topic here). 

For early access to the complete guide, sign up here. 

We've already released our take on essential metrics from each category: 

Speed: 8 Essential Software Development Metrics for Team Productivity

Accuracy: 10 Essential Software Development Metrics to Ensure On-Time Delivery

Quality: 13 Essential Software Development Metrics to Ensure Quality

And now, on to Joy. 

The Essential Metrics for Software Development for Team Health

Software Development Metric Team Health.jpg

Team Communication

What is the software development metric Team Communication?

Team Communication is a qualitative measure of how well the team is communicating and working together.

How do you measure Team Communication?

Team Communication is subjective, and measured as a regular poll of individual team members. It can be as simple as asking, “On a scale of 1-10, How well did we communicate as a team?” during the given period.

Why do you measure Team Communication?

Team Communication is worth measuring, because teams that talk to one another, perform effective code reviews, and pair to work efficiently through problems ultimately end up reducing bugs and future friction. Good communication is a hallmark of smoothly running teams, and should be a core competency on your team.  

Other relevant software development health metrics

Complementary metrics to consider:

Counter metrics to consider:

Open Developer Positions

What is the software development metric Open Developer Positions?

The Number of Open Positions is the number of outstanding job positions that are currently unfilled.

How do you measure Open Developer Positions?

The Number of Open Positions is the current count of unfilled, but budgeted, positions on your teams. It includes new positions and backfilled hires from attrition.

Why do you measure Open Developer Positions?

For your existing teams, the Number of Open Positions can be a critical marker for happiness, because as the number of positions increases, the more pressure the team will feel to deliver on the roadmap without the allocated resources.

Other relevant software development health metrics

Complementary metrics to consider:

Counter metrics to consider:

Average Time to Fill

What is the software development metric Average Time to Fill?

The Average Time to Fill is a measure of how much time it takes to source and start candidates for the open positions.

How do you measure Average Time to Fill?

The Average Time to Fill is:

The sum of the times to fill previous positions / total number of positions filled.

This can be averaged over the last 6 - 12 months. Keep in mind that tracking this metric will require some manual calculations. You'll need to decide when you begin the clock for this measurement; is it when a current employee gives notice, when they leave, or when the job description gets posted? The important part is that you're consistent. 

Why do you measure Average Time to Fill?

By measuring the Average Time to Fill open positions, you can better plan ahead for future roadmap commitments and set expectations with the team and executive management as positions open up. This is also a very helpful way to measure the cost of burnout and attrition. If your Average Time to Fill is exceptionally long, it can help you advocate for additional resources to keep your team happy. 

Other relevant software development health metrics

Complementary metrics to consider:

Counter metrics to consider:

Continuous Improvement

What is the software development metric Continuous Improvement?

Software Engineering Continuous Improvement, as a team poll, is a qualitative measure of how well the team is learning. High performing teams are continually challenged, and experience growth by learning from outcomes.

How do you measure Continuous Improvement?

Continuous Improvement is subjective, and measured as a regular poll of individual team members. It can be as simple as asking, “On a scale of 1-10, How much are we learning and improving as a team?”.

Why do you measure Continuous Improvement?

Teams measure Continuous Improvement to understand the overall trajectory of the team’s learning from past success and failures and if that’s being felt as improvement on the team. It helps identify gaps between management and the software engineering team, and to identify opportunities for investment on the team.

Polling for Continuous Improvement can serve to highlight areas of Team Health and Happiness that are often overlooked. Teams that build a culture of improvement enjoy more engaged team members and greater productivity.

Other relevant software development health metrics

Complementary metrics to consider:

Counter metrics to consider:

Product Roadmap Confidence

What is the software development metric Product Roadmap Confidence?

Roadmap Confidence is a qualitative measure of how well the upcoming roadmap addresses the needs of customers. Roadmap confidence tends to also include factors such as the team’s desire to build the roadmap, and how prepared the team feels to deliver the roadmap.

How do you measure Product Roadmap Confidence?

Roadmap Confidences is subjective, and measured as a regular poll of individual team members. It can be as simple as asking, “On a scale of 1-10, What is your confidence in the current product roadmap?”

Why do you measure Product Roadmap Confidence?

Teams measure Roadmap Confidence to understand the overall excitement and desire to build toward the current roadmap. It helps identify gaps between product management and the software engineering team, as well as help focus everyone on delivering value to the customer.

Used during retrospectives, the team poll results can spark focused conversation that leads to improvements in the product planning process.

Other relevant software development health metrics

Complementary metrics to consider:

Counter metrics to consider:

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