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Measuring the Success of a Software Development Project

When you’re knee-deep in code, it can be hard to remember the big picture. How can developers take stock of the success or failure of their projects? 

Ideally, the success of a software development project can be found in its metrics. Comparing performance metrics to other hard numbers like timeline and budget can reveal where a project is in its lifecycle. But how do you evaluate more abstract metrics? 

Examining the value should be first and foremost 

The value metric of a software development project ranks #1 on the list for many developers. Simply put, if the value or the demand for the project is not there, then there is no reason to put time, effort, and money into ensuring its success. If there is no one out there waiting for your project, then what is it for?

To delve deeper into this metric, examine the project’s target audience and niche. Consider your competition. Is there a need for your project, and how can you fill that need better than competitors? 

Measuring the Success of a Software Development Project

Using security and quality as a partnered metric 

You can marry security and quality when testing the success level of your project. While the team is scrutinizing the security measures to prevent attackers from breaching the system, they are also testing the quality of the code. 

During the security testing, the team should extend their reach and test the quality and integration of any new functions. This way, you kill two birds with one stone.  

Testing the reliability and performance factor simultaneously 

Reliability and performance factors are two more metrics that you can test simultaneously because of their correlation. If one fails, ultimately, the other one will as well. When the software development team tests the new project’s reliability, the group focuses on the stability of the software at the lowest and highest risk of failure. Testing on both levels is crucial.

At the same time, the team can test the performance or efficiency of the project to document and adjust any flaws, such as load times or functionality and usage of keys. Teams should also implement user acceptance testing or UAT services like these to ensure their software’s success. UAT models the real-world usage pattern of a software’s end-users to find flaws in performance before launch. 

While you’re swimming in numbers and data points, it’s important to remember also that software development is a team effort. The metrics you use will describe not just the success or failure of one person but the team as a whole. How well your team shoulders that burden together is another valuable measure of your success.

If you’re managing the software development team, it may be your job to call attention to the big picture. Remember that everyone on your team has something to contribute and that no person is an island. Another of your responsibilities is to pull the team back from going cross-eyed at the numbers.

While the result may be hard data, it should spark a conversation within the group. This conversation can and should include the positives and negatives experienced by any testers involved. 

Communication shows the entire team where progress is growing and where it’s stunted. Your metrics may be objective, but that doesn’t mean you should take the numbers at face value. Instead, dig deep into every data point, and look for patterns. More often than not, it’s easy to lose the human element. Keep the communication between people going if you want a successful project conclusion. 

More metrics for success 

You can see by now that there are potentially limitless ways to measure your success. Here are some additional metrics to look at when measuring a software development project’s potential and achievements. 

Zooming out to the capital side of development, corporations use metrics to measure their performance as a business entity. If the man in the green bill visor punches up the numbers at the end of the day and there’s more profit than expenses, then that business is thriving. For your purposes, it comes down to one question: will your product sell, and will it sell for more than it costs to make?  

Following close behind is the measurement of customer satisfaction. You can use this data to see what you get right and wrong about your audience during development. Take each critique seriously, and remember them for your next project. 

Customer feedback is invaluable to determine the success of a future project. By monitoring this metric, developers can see how often customers utilize their features, whether they recommend it to friends or not, and whether there is significant interest. 

Measuring success

Suppose your product is wildly successful beyond your greatest expectations. Now what?

Scalability is essential because technology, like the free market, does not stand still for anyone. Cell phones, for example, are replaced by newer models almost as soon as they’re announced. This torrid pace is why software development projects will never hit the ceiling of their expansion potential.

In a just world, any software project with something valuable to offer would succeed. And it may do just that in the short term. But after a more extended period, traffic fluctuates. The market changes, and so does consumer interest. Your software should be able to handle each extreme of success and failure.  

As mentioned above, teamwork is an essential factor in project success. If you’re stuck at one phase of your development, try thinking outside the box and going to other development teams for help. Just like your team can help one another, other teams within your organization want to see your project succeed. Ask for help when you need it, and you might be surprised by what you find. Just don’t forget to return the favor when asked.

Before you go

Measuring success is crucial to achieving success. Using metrics, you can accurately judge the success of your software development project and use it to enhance your business. Crunch those numbers, and don’t forget to talk to your fellow humans about what you find.