KPIs in Software Testing - The Test Tribe

KPIs in Software Testing

KPIs in Software Tesing

“Obey the rules to reach the perfect destination. Before that, know the rules”

We come across the buzzwords KPI and metrics in our everyday working environment. Do people contemplate these on their to-do lists to make better decisions? Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the headlights of the product that could provide an accurate way of what should be measured and achieved to monitor and evaluate the process without any deviation. In simple terms, it helps to measure the product’s overall health.


If you don’t turn on the indicator in your vehicle while turning, changing lanes, or merging with traffic, you might get caught by accident. It may be a small wound or lead to severe injuries. Whatever it is, the harm happened to you, your vehicle, and the others who suffered from your mistake.

Often, people get confused with metrics and KPIs in software testing. Metrics are specifically used to measure the performance of certain processes or departments toward business goals. However, KPIs are defined attributes to measure the overall process of achieving business goals and how far they have progressed based on objectives. KPIs are high-level measurements and are used for strategic decision-making, which includes speed, success, failure, and efficiency rates.

KPIs in Software Testing

We will see some important KPIs in software testing that are used to measure software quality.

Software Testing KPIs

1. Requirements review: 

The customer requirements review phase must involve the test engineers along with the business analysts, management team, and development team. It helps the business with early defect detection for cost-effectiveness.


How does this help? Are you worried when the requirements are not documented enough? Don’t worry. Sit with the entire team, discuss all the queries you have, document everything, and present it to the team. It will boost your confidence in the product and give you a chance to understand the requirements clearly. It will help the new joiners in the team without having trouble. Make sure the review has to be done a regular intervals.

And if you ask, what’s the best way to do requirement analysis? Then we’ll suggest you use a Mind Map. The mind maps are excellent tools to aid testing thought processes and can be used in almost every stage of a software testing release.

2. Test plan coverage: 

During the test planning phase, the testing team is involved in covering the maximum requirements in the test plan for the betterment of the test. It should help to enhance the vision of the test, including integration, user acceptance, and system testing.

For example, a test plan should be a detailed document that contains objectives, schedules, estimations, deadlines, and resources involved in the project. It serves as a catalog for easy understanding.

Now, you must be wondering how we create an effective test plan, right? Don’t worry! Here are the 10 Steps to crafting an effective test plan by Kristin Jackonvy.

3. Test Documentation Coverage: 

Test documentation helps to understand the process involved in the testing phase. It covers test plans, test cases, and test scripts. Also, it helps the team understand the behavior of the process, even for those who are new to the team.

4. Test environment stability: 

The product can be tested at different testing levels, which can only be achieved when the respective test environment is stable, including hardware, software, and network configurations.

The team should continuously monitor the outages, which would help the QA and staging environments to be stable when the QA performs their tasks. If frequent disruption is caused in QA and staging systems, it will lead to customer dissatisfaction with improper testing in a specified timeframe in production.

5. Test case authorization: 

The tests authored by the team should be evaluated by the test lead and the test manager. It should help the business analysts and the quality experts meet the customer’s requirements.

Test case authoring may or may not be focused too much on certain teams based on their needs and standards. But, the best practice is to write test cases and connect with bugs whenever you find them in the test management tool. It will give detailed information about the work done by the testers and make it easy to navigate what was wrong with the product and how much you have covered it.

6. Test Automation Coverage: 

How many tests can be automated to reduce the repetition of tasks such as regression testing? Identify the tests that are to be automated and help the team focus on other testing areas.

Many code coverage tools are available in the market. Some of them are Jenkins, JUnit, Gradle, Visual Studio Code, JTest, JaCoCo (Java Code Coverage), Cobertura, Clover, and SonarQube. Explore, validate, and access based on your requirements and business standards.

7. Percentage of passed tests: 

This indicator is measured by the following formula:

Percentage of passed tests = (number of passed tests/total number of tests) *100

8. Number of active defects:

It measures the number of open defects, which can be new, open, or fixed. These should have confirmation testing to ensure the status of defects for further processing.

9. Percentage of rejected defects: 

This measures the percentage of defects rejected by the developer in terms of various reasons such as duplicate, not reproducible, or expected actions.

10. Defect resolution success ratio: 

The process of fixing the defects by the developers and retesting by the testers shows the number of defects resolved and reopened. It can be measured by using the below formula.

Defect Resolution Success Ratio = [(Total Number of Resolved Defects) – (Total Number of Reopened Defects) / (Total Number of Resolved Defects)] * 100.

11. Percentage of escaped defects: 

Defects found by the customers after releasing the product in production lead to a bad image. Ensure the maximum number of defects will be found before the user acceptance testing, and automate the tests to increase efficiency wherever needed.

12. Defect Detection Rate (DDR): 

The test effectiveness has been calculated using this KPI. The higher the defect detection rate, the lower the risk, and testing has been found effective.

Defect Detection Rate = (Number of defects found during testing / Number of defects found during testing and production) * 100

13. Defect Density (DD): 

To understand the quality of a product, the DD speaks well. It has been calculated as the number of defects per thousand lines of code (KLOG). It helps the team to understand how many defects are present relative to the size of the codebase.

Let us take, there are 45 defects found by the testers in 5 different modules. So, the defect density will be 9. It is calculated based on the current quality of the product. It will not be the same or predict the future quality with the historical data. 

14. Mean Time to Detect (MTTD): 

MTTD indicates how quickly the defect has been found in its software lifecycle and helps to evaluate the QA team’s efficiency in detecting and reporting the defects as early as possible. This can be achieved only when the testing starts in the early phase of the software lifecycle.

15. Risk Analysis: 

Different risk phases such as risk identification, risk assessment, risk analysis, and risk impact play a major role in predicting the risks in earlier stages and taking proper measures to avoid such incidents happening in the future.

Benefits of KPIs in software testing

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1. As mentioned above, KPIs help the entire business and management team follow the progress of developing and delivering quality products.

2. Through continuous improvement and focusing on KPIs, the team can identify the risks and improve the techniques to ensure the best possible results.

Example Scenario: Test Automation Coverage and Defect Density KPIs are demonstrating continuous improvement here. 

If the Test automation Coverage is low, even though there is an opportunity to increase the test automation, it drastically slows down the testing processes and potential oversights. The testing team focuses more on automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks, which will reduce manual effort and enhance efficiency and accuracy.

When the Defect Density shows a consistent increase and goes beyond the threshold, it signals the quality risks and time to implement continuous initiatives such as improving test case coverage, test data quality, different methodologies, and continuous monitoring.

3. When the software testing process involves all the KPIs and focuses more on testing phases, it helps in finding loopholes where it has to be improved.

4. The beginning phase of the testing process is beneficial when evaluating the KPIs to concentrate on the improvement of quality. Requirement Coverage and Defect Detection Rate are the two key KPIs that will help during the early stage of the process.

Example Scenario: When the requirement coverage and defect detection rate are low, these indicate many defects are undetected and certain features/functionalities are uncovered. This highlights the testing team to review the test cases and document the changes. Addressing gaps early reduces the risk of overlooking functionalities in the future and contributes to overall improvement in quality.

5. It helps to reduce the complexity of tracking testing performance. 

Example Scenario: One common KPI in software testing that helps to achieve this is Defect Density. A lower Defect Density typically implies a higher software quality and helps the development team keep track of it. It helps in the following complexity reduction:

  • Standardized measurement
  • Early detection of issues
  • Performance Trend Analysis
  • Focus on Critical Areas
  • Objective Benchmarking

Drawbacks and my recommended solution of KPIs in software testing

1. Identifying KPIs:

Challenge: It can be tricky and challenging to identify the right KPIs.

Example Scenario: The testing team is unsure about identifying the KPIs relevant to the testing process when assessing the effectiveness of the regression testing efforts. It lies in selecting indicators that provide meaningful insights to deliver a quality product.

Solution: Involve relevant stakeholders in the identification process. Consider aligning KPIs with overall business goals and objectives. Regularly review and update KPIs to ensure they remain relevant. 

The testing team can conduct a workshop involving key stakeholders such as developers, business analysts, product owners, test managers, and a few from the QA team. During the workshop, the team can discuss and align the potential KPIs to release high-quality software. By regularly reviewing and updating the selected KPIs assessing the chosen metrics still aligns with the goals of the testing process. This collaboration not only addresses the initial challenge but also ensures the testing team’s effort towards the business goal.

2. Cost and Time Consumption:

Challenge: Implementing KPIs can be costly and time-consuming, burdening the team.

Example Scenario: The team always is open to considering KPIs but hesitates to face the challenges when it comes to time and cost. Sometimes, automation tools are expensive to meet the requirements, and providing training to the team for new tool implementation will be considered too much time and cost consumption when enough resources are not available in the team. 

Solution: Prioritize KPIs based on their impact on business objectives. Automate data collection where possible to reduce manual efforts. Allocate resources efficiently to balance project timelines and KPI implementation.

3. Data Collection and Monitoring:

Challenge: Collecting and monitoring data for KPIs is a tedious process.

Example Scenario: To fulfill the KPI objectives, a manual effort is needed to collect, review, and monitor the data. This effort is not only time-consuming but it is also prone to errors.

Solution: Invest in tools and systems that automate data collection. Regularly review data collection processes to identify areas for improvement. Ensure the team is adequately trained on data monitoring procedures.

4. Understanding KPIs:

Challenge: Misunderstanding KPIs can lead to inaccurate results.

Example Scenario: The team misinterprets the Defect Density KPI and tries to reduce the defect rate without considering the complexity of the code.

The team focuses on the quantity of test cases in case of Test case Coverage KPI without considering and focusing on the critical functionalities. 

Solution: Conduct training sessions for the team to ensure a clear understanding of KPIs and their relevance. Foster open communication to address any misconceptions. Establish documentation and guidelines for proper interpretation.

5. Accuracy of Data:

Challenge: Creating accurate data for setting KPIs, especially in testing, is challenging.

Example Scenario: The Defect Resolution Success ratio and Time will be challenging when the team does not record the exact start and end time of the resolution. It leads to inconsistencies among various team members.

Solution: Establish data quality standards. Regularly validate and verify data sources. Collaborate with relevant teams to ensure accurate data inputs. Consider periodic audits to maintain data accuracy.

6. Too Many Indicators:

Challenge: Having too many indicators can lead to confusion and a lack of focus.

Example Scenario: The team focuses on KPI indicators in terms of achieving and is not able to concentrate on the actual quality of the software. It causes confusion and a lack of focus.

Solution: Prioritize and streamline KPIs based on their importance to business goals. Focus on a manageable set of indicators that provide meaningful insights. Regularly review and adjust the number of KPIs as business needs evolve.



Testing is a continuous process from the early stages of software development. To ensure the release of the best quality software, the process should be continuously monitored, evaluated, and improved in various aspects, respectively. Various tools are available on the market to measure the KPIs and make it easy. Software quality managers should concentrate more on defining quality KPIs to meet requirements and deliver the best products.

Sukanya Santhanakrishnan

Written by

Sukanya Santhanakrishnan is a dedicated software tester, with an unwavering commitment to ensuring that digital landscapes function seamlessly. She’s a perpetual learner, always seeking to expand her horizons and stay at the cutting edge of her field. She is a testament to the power of passion, learning, nature, and human connection.

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