Developer Productivity: How to Measure Productivity in Software Engineering

Software engineers’ productivity can become the key performance indicator for their teams. Find out how important it is to measure developer productivity and to maximize it.  


What is Developer Productivity?

Developer metrics

Developer productivity is how developers perform in any given metrics. 

In IT staffing agencies software engineers are measured by various metrics. Some metrics engineering companies use are:

  • Pull requests.
  • The number of commits.
  • Lines of code.
  • Code reviews.
  • Continuous Integration (number of builds, tests).
  • Continuous Deployment (number of deployments, releases).

There are some myths about developer productivity that dominated various technical hiring companies over the past years:

  • Productivity is about developer activity.
  • Productivity is about individual performance.
  • One metric can tell us everything.
  • Productivity metrics are useful only for managers.
  • Productivity is about engineering systems and developer tools.

But productivity is more than these metrics engineering companies vastly used over the past years. Being aware that these software development metrics are wrong leads to a better understanding of a quality developer productivity measurement. So how to measure productivity? The only answer to this question is SPACE.     


What is SPACE?

Developer productivity can’t be reduced to a single metric. Teams and IT staffing agencies can better understand how people work by recognizing and measuring developer productivity with more than a single dimension. Thus, Nicole Forsgren the VP of Research and Strategy at GitHub, and other GitHub and Microsoft researchers have created the SPACE multidimensional framework. SPACE is an abbreviation where: 

  1. S stands for satisfaction and well-being.
  2. P stands for Performance.
  3. A stands for activity.
  4. C stands for communication and collaboration.
  5. E stands for efficiency and flow.

This framework gives a clear view of developer productivity and helps managers to evaluate their employees’ changes.


How SPACE works?

Work hard anywhere

1. Satisfaction and Well-Being

It is not a secret that overall happiness and health affect productivity.

It is crucial to find out what matters to developers. Some measurements can include employee satisfaction which is how satisfied developers are with their work.

Then developer efficiency which is whether developers have access to the tools needed to complete their work. 

And the last but not least one is burnout, which is how exhausted developers are related to work activities.


2. Performance

Developer performance is the outcome of their work. But it is very difficult to measure as various factors like marketing, sales, and customer satisfaction come to deal with business outcomes. So the focused outcomes need to be both business (customer satisfaction, feature usage, adoption, cost reduction) and developer(quality, absence of bugs, reliability, overall service health) specific.


3. Activity

Virtually it is hard to measure all the actions developers take in a day. But to get closer to the answer of how to measure productivity, you need to measure some activities such as pull requests, commits, count of design docs and specs, code reviews, deployment frequency, etc.  


4. Communication and Collaboration

Tech staffing companies value communication and collaboration by paying attention to developer qualification of reviews, onboarding experience, and seeing how developers collaborate. Effective communication and collaboration will produce high-quality developer productivity.  


5. Efficiency and Flow

Developer’s efficiency and flow first of all concern the progress that he/she can make without being interrupted. Different developers may have different efficiencies. One may find many paths in the discovery phase, thus having low efficiency rate. Another developer may contribute small commits and has a high efficiency rate. Efficiency and flow can be measured by the ability to quickly complete the work, the number of handoffs required in a process, etc.  

So this multidimensional framework is meant to help companies, teams, individuals identify the needed software development metrics that will lead to more reliable discussions of productivity and the design of more impactful solutions. By utilizing SPACE companies can maximize the developer productivity level and become a more desirable place for employees.  

One of the leading IT hiring agencies HIRECLOUT also measures developer productivity. The best hiring managers know how to measure productivity and try to check if their employees are satisfied with their work. They use the most helpful software development metrics to maximize the productivity level of employees. HIRECLOUT is a well-known tech hiring company that specializes in Tech, Product, and IT helping to recruit only 10 % of top employees in the tech industry. If you are searching for a partner to help you find the best matches for your vacant IT positions or to find IT jobs HIRECLOUT will have you covered. HIRECLOUT has access to the best tech talent pool in the industry and access to various unadvertised positions in the US.      



The IT staffing company should set some software development metrics to measure developer productivity. The SPACE multidimensional framework is here to help teams better understand developer productivity, and create better metrics engineering companies will use. HIRECLOUT like any other IT staffing agencies measures developer productivity with the best software engineering metrics to make sure that its employees are satisfied and happy.