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How To Objectively Measure the Remote Developers’ Productivity

Measuring a team’s productivity and finding ways to improve it is a never-ending headache for most project managers and product owners. Those smart enough to hire a remote development team face a double challenge - they have to control, manage and measure at the same time. So, how to make sure your remote developers are as productive as you expect them to be, and what metrics to use for measuring the developers’ productivity? Find out the practice-driven answers in this article.

What Is Developer’s Productivity?

Productivity is a buzzword. Almost everyone concerned with their career growth and life success strives to measure it as carefully as possible and look for productivity boost opportunities. While we all understand the essence of productivity on an intuitive level, what about its exact definition?

The Oxford Dictionary defines productivity as “the rate at which a worker, produces goods, and the amount produced, compared with how much time, work and money are needed to produce them.” The developer’s productivity, in turn, is the rate or pace at which the developer copes with assigned tasks, delivering the result of such a quality that is expected by the customer or is generally accepted by the industry.

Different Approaches to Productivity Measurement

Despite the seemingly simple definition, productivity is a relatable concept that can be measured in different ways, while the productivity rate will always be different depending on the metric we connect it with. 

For example, below are three ways to measure productivity that are usually applied by the companies across the industries. 

  • Measuring productivity by goals. According to this approach, one should measure the productivity of a team taking their output result into account while the team members should have specific targets to aim at.
  • Quantitative productivity measurement. This productivity measurement approach implies measuring the productivity depending on the tasks completed, products created, or calls made, for instance, during a day, hour, or month. 
  • Measuring productivity by profit. Measuring productivity by profit means assessing how much value an employee has generated. This is a classical approach to measuring the performance of the product sales team, in addition to the previous ones. 

But are any of the methods above suitable to measure a developer’s productivity? And can the developers’ productivity be measured at all? The matter is that intellectual property results the tech specialists deliver are intangible. What’s more, the developer’s productivity that can formally be measured is also interconnected with one of the other team members. 

Nevertheless, the developer’s productivity can be measured but you have to always keep the complete picture in mind and analyze other project-essential metrics as well. Let’s find out why and how to do it right. 

The Reasons to Measure Developer’s Productivity

Below are the top three reasons why you have to measure your developers’ productivity, analyzing the trends for both short and long runs. 

  • Validate your hiring decisions. The development team is at the heart of any software project. Taking into account the global tech talent shortage, finding the right talent for your project can be difficult, managing your remote development team can also be challenging, and measuring their productivity may seem just impossible. Nevertheless, the developer’s productivity rate can serve as one of the indicators that your hiring decision was right, and that your team members are actually delivering value. 
  • Better planning. Measuring developers’ productivity is also important for better and more accurate planning. The practice shows the development team’s productivity rarely fails alone. Most frequently, this is the result of either overloading, management issues, or failures of a connected team, for example, QA. 
  • Identifying weak points and gaps. According to What Predicts Software Developers’ Productivity research, the top reasons for developers’ productivity are staying enthusiastic about their jobs, working in a team where new ideas are freely shared and supported, and having the opportunity to influence the development process. Productivity drops, in turn, may be a sign of a certain issue on either personal (for example, burnout) or collective issue (for instance, leadership changes) level. 

However, measuring developers’ productivity becomes an even bigger challenge when it comes to running your software project remotely. But as for the good news, increased productivity is one of the benefits of working remotely for tech specialists. For example, according to Statista, 42,7% of developers’ reported a productivity boost when working from home, so the more important thing to be concerned with is to hire a dedicated development team right.

What Are The Wrong Metrics of Developer’s Productivity?

The great trick with measuring the developers’ productivity is that measuring it by goals, in a quantitative way, or by profit makes no sense. Below are the metrics that are ineffective to use according to these measurement approaches since they don’t allow for getting a one-sided look only. 

  • Lines of code. Measuring the developers’ productivity depending on the lines of written code for a certain period of time is the #1 approach to never use for your project. The reason is simple - such a metric tells nothing about code quality which is more important than the volume. 
  • Tasks closed. This is another example of “by goal” measurement which can sometimes be decisive. For example, one member of the development team can dwell on the more challenging task longer while the others deal with something simpler. What’s more, such an approach is a career-killer for better-skilled developers. 
  • Bugs fixed. The amount of fixed bugs isn’t also pretty objective in the context of productivity. This measurement answers the question of how many bugs were found after running a testing script instead of telling about productivity. What’s more, some bugs can take more time and effort to be fixed, so here is a trap similar to the one we have when measuring productivity depending on the closed tasks.
  • Hours worked. The only thing this metric tells about is that a developer was present at their workplace during a certain period of time. Hours worked is an indicator to use when calculating the developer’s salary in Time and Material projects but it tells nothing about productivity.

The Right Developers’ Productivity Metrics to Track

So, instead of measuring productivity in the ways that are better suitable for other industries than IT and using the metrics that tell nothing about actual developers’ productivity, switch to tech-specific measurements that are essential for both productivity and project success. 

  • Deployment frequency. This indicator dwells on how often the development team releases to production. As a rule, the number of deployments per day is used as a measurement. The goal of measuring productivity in such a way is to optimize time to market and align the development process with the project’s goals.
  • Lead time. Lead time (usually in days) is an indicator that shows how much time the team needed to deliver a project - from getting started with the first meeting with the customer to launching the finished product to market. This measurement is used by the development vendors to objectively estimate the whole team’s productivity and give future customers more accurate time assessments. 
  • Cycle time. This measurement is similar to the previous one but in this case, the time it took to finish a certain development stage was measured. This indicator is also important for better planning and deadline revisions. 
  • Tasks-in-progress. This metric is used to find out how many tasks are in progress and improve future work planning. For example, one of the Agile-inspired practices is to have no more than two tasks in progress per team member to avoid multitasking, focus switches, and time waste.
  • Change failure rate. This indicator is calculated by dividing the number of incidents divided by the number of deployments. The goal of the metric is not only to measure the developer’s productivity but also the quality of their work, and to improve customer satisfaction rate.
  • Team health. This indicator was suggested to deal with the irrational picture the measurement by tasks provides. Team health indicator measures the number of tasks per team member not with the goal of measuring their productivity but with the goal of creating fair work distribution, in terms of task quantity and complexity.

What Tools Should You Use to Get a Complete Picture?

So, there are several IT-specific indicators to track for measuring the developers’ productivity and getting a complete picture. That’s why you have to choose the right tool that will come with both task manager and productivity measurement features. Below are some winning and life-tested suggestions. 

  • ClickUp. ClickUp is one of the most advanced project management tools that come with great automation features, intuitive UI, and workflow customization opportunities. This tool allows for managing several teams within a single project, ensuring seamless collaboration between them, and taking the most important metrics, for example, time in progress, tasks in progress, and team health. 
  • Monday. Monday has a ClickUp similar UI and feature set. This tool is easier to handle so it can be a better pick for novice team leads and project managers. It also comes with fewer customization opportunities compared to ClickUp but can work well for small to medium teams. 
  • Service Now. Service Now is the “platform of platforms” that overperforms both ClickUp and Monday in terms of features advancement and customization. In terms of setting up IT workflows, Service Now has separate solutions for IT Service and Operation Management, DevOps, compliance, and much more.


Measuring developers' productivity can be challenging, especially for remote teams. That’s why partnering with a dedicated development company that is well-versed in both tech and management practices and possible pitfalls is a smart tactic you are welcome to follow. 

SpaceBus experts would be happy to share our life-proven insights on how to hire a productive development team, measure its performance right, and drive your project growth with the best tech minds.

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