Beyond bug counts: Using KPIs for product quality and team morale

Companies strive to improve themselves to deliver high-quality products.

Beyond bug counts: Using KPIs for product quality and team morale

Companies strive to improve themselves to deliver high-quality products. To do this, they set goals for the team, periodically check against these goals, and evaluate the next steps. One of these tools, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are used to analyze many aspects of successful product practices, including software QA. Using  KPIs helps track progress, measure results, and drive improvement to ensure consistently outstanding test results.

In this blog post, we'll look at KPIs that test teams can use to improve performance/productivity and monitor their success.

What is a Key Performance Indicator (KPI)?

KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator. A KPI is a metric that helps businesses measure their progress against predetermined goals and objectives over time. Keeping track of these indicators helps companies set goals and measure progress towards them by watching how they perform relative to their competitors and close to prior performance. They help organizations answer critical questions such as "Where do we stand right now?" and "What have we achieved?". They also inform strategic investments by helping identify areas where improvements can be made. In other words, they help organizations understand how they're doing compared to where they want to be. A well-defined list of KPIs will help inform businesses on how they need to develop strategies to capitalize on areas of improvement while also avoiding making costly mistakes.

Let's walk through a simple KPI example. Say you own an e-commerce business that sells women's clothing. Your main goal is to increase sales and revenue. You can use a KPI like "Monthly Sales Revenue" for this. If you see that your sales revenue drops for several months in a row, you can investigate the reasons and adjust your marketing strategy. In addition, if you notice an increase in revenue after launching a new product, you can release some versions of this product and expand the product line further. In this way, it may be possible to obtain a longer-term income.

In summary, by following some KPIs, you can understand how your company is performing and make data-based decisions to be more successful.




What are the KPIs of Software Testing and QA?

Quality Assurance (QA) teams are critical partners in the software development process. Evaluating the performance and competencies of QA teams directly affects both testing processes and software development processes. Moreover, QA-specific KPIs provide a quantitative way to measure the impact of a QA team’s work and enable them to effectively manage the development process.

Managers use KPIs to measure the effectiveness of testing processes and to provide visibility into the QA teams' impact on product quality. By monitoring key performance indicators, test managers can identify potential issues before they become problems. This allows them to address issues quickly and prevent costly mistakes. Additionally, KPIs assist with decision-making around resource allocation and forecasting future project requirements.

Companies who value testing follow many QA-specific KPIs to increase the success of their quality teams. They include measurements such as speed rates, success and failure rates, and efficiency rates. These indicators allow organizations to track the progress, to make necessary improvements to improve its processes and to maximize the ROI (Return on Investment) from its software QA initiatives.




The benefits of using KPIs for QA Teams and Managers:

There are many advantages to using KPIs for QA: 

- Better measurement: Having clear metrics allows measuring the team's performance in a precise, objective way. For example, comparing the number of bug reports reported in certain periods and the number of bugs fixed in the same periods can provide information about team performance.

- Continuous improvement: By constantly monitoring KPIs, teams can identify weak areas and improve themselves to ensure the best possible results. For example, if there is an increase in “Defect leakage rate”, this increase may imply that there are some errors in the tests performed in the test environment. Monitoring KPIs makes such deviations visible, so that the team can find improvements.

- Focus: KPIs allow you to focus on areas that can impact the business the most. If you are working in an e-commerce site, product search, product listing and cart modules are the most used features. Tracking the number of bugs found in these features helps prioritize focusing on the areas that matter most to customers.

- Efficiency: With the targeted KPIs, more efficient performance of the team can be achieved. KPIs should already be created to improve performance. If the determined KPIs are followed and then improvements are made according to these KPI results, high efficiency can be obtained from the team.

- Better decision-making: By tracking KPIs, managers can make data-driven decisions on key issues such as process improvements and resource allocation. For example, if a feature is of high importance and has a high bug density, the team needs to spend more resources to test this feature.




How are KPIs set and tracked for your QA Testing Team?

Maximizing the performance of your QA test team starts with setting and monitoring the right KPIs. But how exactly do you set and monitor KPIs for your QA test team?Here are some basic KPIs you might consider at the beginning:

Test Cycle Time: Time spent designing, executing, and reporting on a test. With this metric, it is possible to measure process efficiency and effectiveness.

Test Case Design Time: Time is taken to design the scenarios of the created tests.

Test Case Pass Rate: Ratio of the number of tests passed without defects over the total number of tests. It is a fundamental success criterion and if low, needs improvement.

Test Coverage: A critical metric for software quality assurance that quantitatively measures the effectiveness and thoroughness of software testing by evaluating the percentage of code or functionalities covered by tests. It helps identify areas of the application that require additional testing and provides a measure of the quality of testing.

Once you are confident with the basics, you can monitor more complex KPIs to analyze your team's performance in more detail. The following KPIs can provide valuable results for your testing processes:

Defect Leakage Rate: Detects efficiency in the testing process and fix bugs before they reach the end user. The data is obtained by proportioning the bugs caught in the test environment and the bugs detected in the production environment.

Defect Discovery Rate: Ratio of the bugs detected during the testing process over the bugs detected during the entire product process to determine the efficiency of the testing process.

Defect Severity Distribution: Distribution of bugs by severity. It shows the effect of the test team on the software.

Reduction in Defect Density: Ratio of the detected bugs in a period of time compared to the previous period.

Test Case Efficiency: Number of test cases a team can run in  a period of time. This KPI provides insight into the speed of the test team.

Test Case Effectiveness: Ratio of detected bugs to the number of test cases run in a given time period. It is one of the most critical KPIs of testing processes.

Test Efficiency: The time taken to test a product is calculated by proportioning the time spent developing it. With this measurement, it is possible to analyze the optimization of the test team and how effectively the resources are used.

After new KPIs are determined, they need to be monitored regularly and the data obtained should be analyzed. After the analysis, necessary actions should be taken to improve the processes where necessary. 




Common challenges in implementing KPIs in software testing

While implementing and maintaining KPIs brings success, there are things to watch out for as you roll out your QA-specific KPIs..

One of the biggest challenges is setting actionable KPIs for your QA team. It is only possible to access accurate data with meaningful KPIs. Incorrect data, on the other hand, allows you to make completely erroneous inferences, and an unsuccessful scenario will occur. 

Collecting and monitoring the data specified by KPIs can be a long and arduous process. As the test processes progress, it should be ensured that the data remain meaningful with KPIs. That's why the team needs to participate and create data for the KPI. This may cause a different problem. If the team understands the importance of KPIs, it will be easier to implement them successfully. 

Working with too many KPIs instead of creating enough ones makes it challenging to prioritize and focus on the most effective ones.

Monitoring KPIs requires extra time, resources, special effort and cost. QA teams are often hard-working teams and have specific responsibilities. Therefore, KPI tracking often seems like an additional burden.

However, this burden ceases to be a problem when the processes are considered on a long-term basis. Because with KPIs monitored, improvements will be made in the QA teams and the quality of the developed product or service will increase. In addition, workflows can be optimized and costs reduced. Therefore, working with KPIs is not a sunk cost burden - it is an investment.

Conclusion: Improve quality and team morale with intentional measurements

KPIs are essential tools for maintaining the performance of QA Test teams. Utilizing KPIs can lead to more efficient and effective testing, resulting in higher quality products and greater customer satisfaction. This way, the companies can continue their product development processes without incurring many material losses.

A team that uses KPIs knows the impact of their work, and can identify where they need to improve. Well-selected KPIs provide insight into how a team is performing. With this data, managers can identify the strengths and weaknesses of the team and develop team development plans.

By the way, KPIs are one of the most basic solutions for a company to understand where it stands, and there is more. With its expertise in Test Automation and Quality Assurance, kloia helps companies close their gaps and optimize their processes. We create more efficient and effective testing environments by making data-based decisions. You can contact us if you want to have a quick chat




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Acelya Gul

Software Test Automation Engineer @kloia