KPIs in software testing: everything you need to know

Should we calculate KPIs for the QA process, or is it enough to measure metrics? What is the difference between KPIs and metrics? What are the essential KPIs for testing? In this article, you will find all the answers with examples.

What is the difference between KPIs and metrics?

Key performance indicators (KPIs) in the QA area are essential metrics used to assess and measure the effectiveness and efficiency of the QA processes. The specific KPIs can vary depending on the organization, project, and goals.

Software testing KPIs and metrics are related concepts, but have distinct differences. Let's clarify the distinctions between them.

Strategic focus vs Operational focus

KPIs are indicators that align with the strategic goals and objectives of an organization. They provide a high-level view of performance in achieving business objectives. 

Metrics are more operational and focus on specific, measurable aspects of the testing process. They provide detailed data points that contribute to understanding specific aspects of performance.

Decision-making vs Monitoring and control

KPIs are used by management for decision-making. They help in assessing overall performance and making strategic decisions related to quality, efficiency, and effectiveness.

Metrics are used for monitoring and control at a more granular level. They help in identifying trends, patterns, and areas that require attention within the testing process.

Long-term goals vs Short-term assessment

KPIs are often associated with long-term goals and are used to monitor progress over time. They are crucial for evaluating the success of the overall testing strategy.

Metrics are often used for short-term assessment and immediate feedback. They are instrumental in identifying issues and improvements on an ongoing basis.

High-level metrics vs Specific measurements

KPIs are usually derived from a combination of various metrics. They are broader in scope and provide a summarized view of the overall health and effectiveness of the testing process.

Metrics provide specific measurements and data points related to activities, tasks, and processes within software testing. They are more detailed and specific than KPIs.

As being said, KPIs are strategic indicators that provide a high-level overview of the overall success in achieving business goals, while metrics are more detailed, operational measurements that contribute to the understanding and improvement of specific aspects of the testing process. Both KPIs and metrics are essential for effective quality assurance and improvement in software testing.

When are software testing KPIs beneficial and when useless?

It might sound unusual, but not all QA teams will benefit from KPIs. Let's begin by exploring cases in which the incorporation of KPIs will prove successful for your project.
Long-term software testing process. After committing a significant amount of time to the same testing process and successfully implementing it multiple times, it's wise to evaluate KPIs. This assessment helps identify areas for improvement in the testing process.

Large testing team. With a sizable testing team, task distribution becomes extensive. To ensure effective and efficient task management, measuring specific testing KPIs becomes beneficial. This practice not only enhances efficiency but also keeps everyone aligned and on track.

New testing processes implementation. Considering the introduction of new testing processes, it's advisable to measure KPIs against the original process. This assessment aids in defining goals for the revamped testing procedures, guiding the organization toward successful implementation.

Nevertheless, we also know cases when KPIs incorporation is not beneficial. 

Initial testing phase. If your product is in the early testing stages, especially during the product's initial launch, there may not be sufficient data to measure. This phase is pivotal for establishing a testing process rather than assessing its effectiveness.

Short testing cycle. If you anticipate a product with minimal changes after launch and testing is a one-time process, evaluating the effectiveness of the testing process may not be valuable. Without subsequent testing cycles, there's limited scope for improvement.

Budget constraints. Measuring testing KPIs requires time, effort, and, consequently, incurs costs. In situations with a limited testing budget, it is more practical to prioritize the application of a cost-effective testing process over the measurement of KPIs.

25 KPIs for QA and how to calculate them

#1. Test Case Pass Rate. Percentage of test cases that pass successfully, indicating the stability and reliability of the software.

#2. Test Execution Efficiency. The ratioRatio of actual test execution time to the estimated time, indicating how efficiently tests are executed.

#3. Test Case Execution Productivity. Number of test cases executed per unit of time, measuring the efficiency of the testing team.

#4. Test Case Review Effectiveness. Percentage of test cases reviewed out of the total, indicating the thoroughness of the review process.

#5. Defect Density. Number of defects identified per unit of code, helping to assess code quality.

#6. Testing cost per defect. Total testing cost divided by the number of defects found, providing insights into testing efficiency.

#7. Active defects. Defects yet to be closed, encompassing both open and fixed but unverified issues. Maintaining a low count of functional defects is generally indicative of higher product quality.

#8. Defects fixed per day. Gauges the development team's effectiveness, though subjectivity exists due to the varying complexity of bugs. This can aid in predicting the workload for the testing team.

#9. Defect Closure Rate. Measures testers' efficiency in verifying and closing fixed defects, facilitating more accurate release cycle estimates.

#10. Time to Detect Defects. Average time taken to detect and report defects, helping to identify bottlenecks in the defect detection process.

#11. Defect Rejection Rate. Percentage of reported defects rejected after investigation, highlighting the accuracy of defect reporting.

#12. Requirements Coverage. Percentage of requirements covered by test cases, ensuring comprehensive testing against specifications.

#13. Test Automation ROI (Return on Investment). Calculation of the benefits gained from test automation versus the cost invested.

#14. Regression Test Pass Rate. Percentage of regression test cases passing successfully, ensuring that new code changes do not break existing functionality.

#15. Customer Satisfaction with Quality. Feedback from end-users on the perceived quality of the delivered software.

#16. Escaped Defects. Number of defects found by customers after the software release, highlighting gaps in testing.

#17. Release Readiness. Assessment of whether the software is ready for release based on testing results.

#18. Test Environment Stability. Percentage of time the test environment is stable, ensuring reliable testing conditions.

#19. Code Coverage. Percentage of code covered by automated tests, indicating the extent of code exercised during testing.

#20. Test Cycle Time. Time taken to complete a testing cycle from planning to execution.

#21. Test Script Maintainability. Effort required to maintain and update automated test scripts, ensuring sustainability.

#22. Passed requirements. Relevant when planning a product release; if any requirement hasn't passed testing, the release should be delayed.

#23. Reviewed Requirements. Ensures that requirements under testing and development have been reviewed by subject matter experts, minimizing errors in development and testing.

#24. Test Instances Executed. Measures the velocity of test execution, ensuring the testing cycle aligns with release plans.

#25. Test Team Collaboration Index. Measurement of collaboration and communication within the testing team, promoting a cohesive working environment.