Agile Software Development
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Key figures in agile development

Agile software development continues its success story in the developer scene and is now considered the most widely used development method. Key figures in agile software development contribute to shorter development times.

Optimise processes and make success measurable

Agile software development continues its success story in the developer scene and is now considered the most widely used development method. The Agile Development Adoption and Best Practices Report shows that more than 55% of all IT companies now work with agile methods. Find out here which roles key figures play in agile software development and what is important when selecting them.

Agile software development: The importance of key figures

Despite the high flexibility and adaptability of agile methods and their quick reaction to change, it makes sense to measure and control workflows centrally. Agile KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) provide information about potential improvements in the strategic planning, evaluation and implementation of agile projects.

Traditional quality management systems usually focus on meeting requirements within a time and monetary framework. In agile software development, however, customers and development teams have direct insight into the results. This allows them to continuously adjust the deadlines and effort required to complete a product, and to shorten development times. So what is important when analysing agile projects? We have compiled the most important agile key figures in software development.

KPIs for time optimisation

Time optimisation is a fundamental part of improving work processes. These key figures help with this:

Cycle Time

Cycle time describes the time that is spent on the actual processing of an order when using Kanban methods. In contrast to the lead time, which covers the entire period from receipt to the end of the order, the cycle time describes only the time during which work is done directly on the implementation of new requirements. More precisely, it includes the active implementation of changes in the software. The use of cycle time as a key figure thus enables a detailed view of the actual software development processes. It thus helps to optimise them: the shorter, the better.


Velocity is an important factor for the work organisation of Scrum teams. It is about predicting how many tickets can be delivered within an iteration, i.e. a sprint. The more precise and realistic the team's estimate is, the more exact the value will be. The individual tasks are evaluated with the effort in hours or the abstract unit Story Points. After a sprint, the completed tickets can be compared with the estimated value and the velocity calculated. This makes it possible to observe productivity in a team over a longer period of time.

Velocity tracking is especially important for the planning of the individual organisational units to enable a smooth flow of work processes. It helps to refine the estimates and predictions of the individual work steps and to work more efficiently. However, due to individual estimations and the different definitions of story points, it is difficult to compare the KPIs of individual teams. The velocity KPI and its improvement should therefore only be understood as a planning tool and not as a rigid target.

Process-oriented KPIs

The following KPIs can be used to monitor development processes and thus the success of the individual steps.

Sprint Burndown Charts

A sprint burndown chart tells the Scrum team how much work still needs to be done within a sprint. The approach here is the opposite of time optimisation. Not the tasks that have already been completed are listed, but the remaining work until the set goal is reached. This indicator can be used in agile software development to detect any planning errors that the team may have made in the initial phase.

Release Burndown

The release burndown is not only used by Scrum teams, but also by developers who use Kanban. Like the sprint burndown, the release burndown also deals with the time span and the work done or the progress made. However, the release burndown covers a longer period of time and is only completed with the release of the developed software. Burndown charts are also suitable for displaying this, as they enable problems to be identified quickly and the entire development process to be mapped.

Cumulative Flow Diagram

The Cumulative Flow Diagram, used by Kanban teams, is a powerful tool for visualising key figures. It brings together different aspects such as the planned workload, the processes currently being worked on and the processes already completed. By reproducing the entire work process, it can be analysed. The information about the current development status shows bottlenecks and thus enables optimisation of further planning.

KPI for output control

In addition, the output of agile software development can be checked with certain key figures.

Crash Statistics

After the release, crash statistics are important key figures to make the success of the software measurable. The average time between the occurrence of errors and error correction or the frequency with which an application crashes are possible KPIs here. Against a temporal background, they aim to keep the number of incidents in a certain period of time as low as possible and their average processing time as short as possible in order to demonstrate an improvement.

Code Coverage

Code coverage is a key figure that compares the number of tests actually carried out within a code with the number of theoretically possible tests. The calculation of this indicator is technically relatively simple and the evaluation is also simple: the higher the code coverage, the better. However, when using it, one should bear in mind that the development team can influence the indicator by randomly testing as large a quantity of source code as possible.

Less control, more progress

Although key figures in agile software development offer the possibility of monitoring work processes in detail, they should be used less for control. Rather, they serve as indicators for possible further developments. The most effective use of the key figures only results from a consideration of trends and rarely from a direct comparison of parallel developments. Under certain circumstances, their use can even be detrimental to team motivation, which is why the benefits and results should be carefully weighed up.

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