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August’s smartKPI: % Schedule adherence in software development

software development

From over 21,000+ Key Performance Indicators in our database, every month we select the most popular KPI and provide you with useful information about its calculation formula, benchmarking data, as well as on the best practices to maximize performance results. 

This month’s smartKPI is one of the most relevant metrics, utilized worldwide in the IT Industry to measure and optimize performance – % Schedule adherence in software development.


Measures the timeliness and quality of deliveries, in terms of projects and tasks relative to the expected schedule and acceptance criteria, that support software development processes.


% Schedule adherence in software development is composed of the following sub-metrics:

A = # Actual time to develop software

B = # Planned time to develop software

The calculation formula is the following:

[(A-B)/B] *100

As associated with software development projects, the calculation formula can be adapted as follows:


A = $ Earned project value

B = $ Planned project value

The calculation formula is the following:

(A1+A2+…An)/ (B1+B2+…Bn) *100

where n = # Project value


Accurate reporting for this KPI is reliant on well-maintained systems such as real-time dashboards or software development management platforms that secure the availability of highly accurate adherence estimations for all the tasks and projects assigned to team members.

Another challenge in monitoring and measuring this KPI comes with defining “quality” in terms of deliveries. Quality standards may differ depending on the software and they can revolve around compliance criteria or technical requirements. Therefore it is relevant to receive guidance on such standards before defining quality criteria for software development outputs.

software development

KPI in Practice

Since efforts to develop new software applications are conducted intensively within the IT Industry with high associated costs, schedule adherence should be monitored and reported, typically on a monthly basis.

To ensure an effective use of this KPI, industry specialists should take into consideration that % Schedule adherence in software development is a very relevant indicator to ensure that tasks and projects are performed in accordance to their baseline schedule.

If the project schedule is not respected, it is likely that impediments in project roll out  are recorded, These impediments generally refer to activities that are performed relatively less efficiently when compared to the overall progress of the software development project, thereby negatively influencing the work flow in the sense that they demand rework.

The recommended values for this KPI may vary according to the type of software in progress of being developed and according to technical complexities. The following recommendations should be analyzed:

  • > 99% is the result of a perfect schedule adherence. This means that there are zero activity impediments and all tasks and projects are done and finalized according to schedule.
  • 95% – 99 % can be considered the industry benchmark level for well performing software developers. However, there is still room for improvement.
  • < 95% is regarded usually as “off-track” performance. It is considered as the signal for companies to start focusing on developing improvement strategies, taking corrective actions to address the possible issues associated with schedule adherence.

These threshold values, though, as mentioned in the paragraph above, are highly contextual and based on various challenges that may occur in software development. Moreover, to have a better understanding of the actual results associated with this KPI, it is recommended to also look intoits sub-metrics.

Benchmarking data

Given the different nature of the software developed and the phases required to finalize the tasks and projects, it is difficult to provide a clear overview of how software developers perform, against other similar sized developers that operate in close geographical area and in similar economic environment.

The objective of the referenced benchmarking study is to clearly analyze how developers operate as well as their compliance to schedule requirements. It provides a learning opportunity for software developers and project managers to take preventive and corrective actions for ongoing and future software development projects.

Key Performance Drivers

This KPI is considered to be one of the most relevant metrics to be monitored in software development. Achieving high schedule adherence levels may be enforced by aspects such as establishing clear milestones and deliverables for each development phase, breaking down the time for each stage of software development and considering in advance possible errors and changes in schedule.

In order to drive performance improvement from the use of this KPI, it is important to clearly analyze schedule conformity in real time so that corrective action can be taken, during each development phase. This would allow the maintenance of adequate levels of % Schedule adherence in software development.

Given the computation of this KPI, there are a variety of sub-metrics that can influence the adherence to schedule. For instance, the quality of the deliveries, during any development stage may interfere with the workflow, especially if # Software development errors are encountered and # Extra time/ # Overtime must be allocated for rework.

To maintain an efficient level of % Schedule adherence in software development, the following recommendations can be taken into consideration:

  • Thoroughly analyzing the current status of schedule adherence, in order to identify which phases or stages of the development process are more likely to create delays;
  • Detecting, through root cause analysis, the reasons for lack of schedule adherence, assessing if corrective action should be implemented at human resource level or at R&D level;
  • Investing in the development of reporting tools such as software development management platforms, to monitor real-time schedule adherence;
  • Offering rewards to employees that finalize and deliver tasks and projects on time, enlisting the benefits in respecting software development deadlines;
  • Developing training programs, for software development team members, showing best practices in the field, to encourage schedule adherence for high quality software products.

For a thorough analysis of performance in the IT Industry, % Schedule adherence in software development should be monitored together with other relevant KPIs, such as % On time completion of software applications and % Quality of software applications developed.

These KPIs and more can be found in our Top 25 Information Technology KPIs of 2011-2012, one of The KPI Institute’s most popular publications. The report provides an overview of the most utilized KPIs in the IT Industry, combining input from the community with research and analysis from The KPI Institute’s research team.

In September, we invite you to discover our next smartKPI, which is commonly used in the Utility industry to measure and optimize performance.

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