Why should I measure productivity?

Simply because you can’t improve what you don’t measure. So if you wish to become more productive, it is important to measure.


Productivity within software projects

The functionality that is offered is an important variable in the competitive battle between organizations. In the end, all organizations want to offer as much functionality as possible against the lowest cost possible. Within the industry, it has been observed that the best-in-class IT departments deliver software up to 30 times more productive than the worst-in-class IT departments.

Building productivity metrics with standards

In general, it is not easy to implement a productivity measurement process for software projects.  Measuring input and output is a good starting point. To be able to build up meaningful and comparable productivity metrics, it is important to use (international) standards.

How do I measure input?

In deciding how you will measure input, it is important to choose which of the following items you will include and which one you will exclude from the scope of measurement:

  • Effort hours for activities such as:
    • Technical design, coding, unit test, systems test, other supplier tests
    • Functional design, support acceptance test, implementation activities
  • Overtime
  • Travel hours, meeting hours and overhead hours

The so-called effort registration system that you’ve chosen to analyse the productivity of a team, department or supplier, must be implemented in a standardized way.

How do I measure output?

To measure the output of software projects, it is recommended to use an ISO/IEC standard. There are three functional size measurement methods that comply to this standard:

  • NESMA function points (ISO/IEC 24570);
  • IFPUG function points (ISO/IEC 20926);
  • COSMIC function points (ISO/IEC 19761);

The advantages of using one of these functional size measurement methods for productivity measurement are:

  • It is an objective, repeatable, verifiable and defensible way to determine the size of the software.
  • It provides a clear relation between the functional size and the effort needed to realize the application.
  • The measure is clear for both customer organizations and supplier organizations.
  • The functional size is independent of the technical solution and/or the non-functional requirements. An application of 500 NESMA function points realized in Java is just as big as a Wordpress website of 500 FP.


To be able to compare and benchmark your productivity, Nesma highly recommends to use the definitions and categories that are used by the International Software Benchmarking Standards Group (ISBSG).


Eager to learn more about software productivity measurement?

Are you willing to successfully implement software productivity measurement within your business? Nesma has written a whitepaper about productivity measurement. Get your free download here.