BlueOptima: What and Why Coding Effort?

Published: 3 July 2019

BlueOptima offers a solution to a long-standing problem that hitherto had not been suitably solved: Objectively measuring software developer productivity.

The best methods used before BlueOptima – from assessing the overall cost or quality of a software development project to measuring increases in Function Points or even lines of code – all have their respective flaws.

Yet software development metrics are critical. Managers of developer teams and board-level sponsors need to know that software projects in progress are cost-efficient to be confident that they are delivered via best-chosen means. This understanding can be achieved with insight around the effort invested in coding. BlueOptima derives this measure; expressed in hours of Coding Effort. This offers a transparent, quantitative amount of units of work developers are giving to software development, and how much work a particular project requires. This provides a consistent, objective basis for costing. As mentioned above, a measure of the cost of overall delivery does not enable optimization of cost-efficiency during production. That is because software releases, fixes and individual functions require different amounts of work and thus cannot be compared.

Metrics may mislead managers: Flaws in current software development KPIs extend to the point that they encourage developers to work counter-productively. E.g. measuring the number of bugs fixed or functions delivered causes developers to cherry-pick the easier challenges, or if given a weekly/monthly target, sandbag tasks. Taking an approach as primitive as counting lines of code is asking developers to write inefficient rather than streamlined software.

Further, many current measures require software developers to report on e.g. bugs fixed or simply hours spent on a project; taking time away from applying their coding talent. BlueOptima data is reported automatically.

BlueOptima’s technology – the fruit of 10 years’ R&D – exists to fulfill the lack of dependable software development metrics. This quantitative KPI is generated through evaluating every change software developers make (across all source files) in terms of 36 static source code metrics. From these, BlueOptima calculates higher-level metrics for coding productivity in terms of Volume, Complexity, and Interrelatedness. Analysis across individual developers, teams, projects, individual tasks, locations, outsourcing suppliers reveals insight into productivity, cost-efficiency as well as the amount of work various software releases – or individuals’ features – demand.

Many organizations employ thousands of developers, whether in-house or outsourced, with no objective insight into their performance. The current need is clear. A PricewaterhouseCoopers study found that companies want to use easily accessible (though vague) metrics rather than quantitative metrics. While these vague metrics lack sturdy bases and become riddled with subjectivity, even the quantitative metrics discussed above are problematic, and none – neither qualitative nor quantitative – can be measured automatically. Only BlueOptima is a sufficient solution and delivers tangible value to organizations.

  1. 14% of survey participants said they do not use code-based metrics at all (Driving software development through measurement; PwC’s Software Measurement Study, November 2014, p. 2: Productivity)
Maintainability overview

What Next?

Learn more about how Developer Analytics allows software development teams or projects to objectively measure productivity and code maintainability allowing you to actively manage software development costs.

Our solution enables transparent, consistent, and data-driven decisions across your entire software development estate.

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