The 8 Most Important KPIs for Software Quality Assurance

Testing and quality assurance (QA) are essential yet often overlooked stages in the software development lifecycle. From generating user stories to patching security flaws, testing and QA ensure that the software’s end users can enjoy a high-quality experience free of bugs and vulnerabilities.

To assess the effectiveness of their software testing and QA processes, organizations need to use key performance indicators (KPIs). So what are the most important KPIs for software quality assurance, and how can businesses employ them to their fullest extent?

This article will discuss everything that development and testing teams need to know about KPIs for quality assurance. After defining the 8 most important quality assurance KPIs, we’ll discuss how businesses should interpret each one for smarter decision-making.

What Are KPIs in Software Development, And Why Are They Important?

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are measures of how far a business has progressed toward a goal or how well it has performed based on specific objectives. In the case of software development, KPIs are used to define software product goals and to help evaluate the most important attributes of a company’s software development and testing process.

No single KPI can evaluate the overall effectiveness of software product testing. Instead, different metrics help determine testing “health” in various domains, such as quality, performance, and efficiency. By using KPIs appropriately, businesses can ensure that they are achieving or making progress toward certain objectives that all make up a larger project.

8 Examples of QA KPIs and Metrics

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1. Test case efficiency

What it is: Test case efficiency helps measure the effectiveness of software testing efforts across different test phases. For a software test case to be effective and efficient, it must fulfill multiple standards: the test data is provided accurately, the test case properly identifies defects, and the results are clear and understandable. 

Why it’s important: Even if the software has passed testing, this is no guarantee that the application is high-quality or bug-free. Writing efficient test cases ensures that the organization is actually testing the right things, with sufficient test coverage to thoroughly detect problems and unexpected behavior.

2. Defect density

What it is: Defect density is a KPI that measures the number of bugs and errors in the formula. A rough formula for calculating defect density is to divide the number of defects by the size of the software module (e.g., the number of lines of code).

Why it’s important: Defect density helps businesses assess the software’s quality and the performance of the development team. For example, defect density can help determine when a software application should be released, or when it passes out of the alpha or beta phase (i.e., when the defect density goes below a certain percentage).

3. Tests executed

What it is: The test execution KPI simply counts the total number of test cases that have been run on the current software build. This figure incorporates the various types of software tests (e.g., unit tests, regression tests, integration tests, etc.) and includes both manual tests and automated tests.

Why it’s important: Tracking the total number of tests executed is a crucial metric of the productivity of the testing team. The number of tests executed is an example of a velocity KPI, which quantifies how quickly teams and businesses can carry out their objectives.

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4. Time to test

What it is: Time to test is a KPI for quality assurance and software development that measures how quickly an organization can go from testing a new software feature to completing it. In other words, the time to test KPI calculates how long testers and developers take to evaluate the feature and fix any bugs identified during testing.

Why it’s important: Using time to test can help organizations measure the quality and efficiency of their software testers. This KPI can also identify more complex software features: the longer the time to test, the more intricate the feature’s design is. 

5. Defect resolution time

What it is: Defect resolution time is a multi-part KPI for quality assurance. First, it tracks how long it takes for testing teams to uncover existing issues within the software. Second, it determines how long teams take to resolve these issues once identified. 

Why it’s important: Monitoring defect resolution time helps assess a team’s level of software defect fix effort. The lower this KPI, the faster organizations can find and patch critical defects in their applications. Defect resolution time can be measured on a business-wide basis, and also per individual to appraise the efficiency and productivity of different testers on the team.

6. Quality ratio

What it is: The quality ratio KPI calculates the percentage or level of success in the most recent software testing run, based on the pass or fail rate of the executed tests. The quality ratio formula is simply the number of test cases that executed successfully, divided by the total number of test cases, times 100.

Why it’s important: Quality ratio helps the testing manager and other key decision-makers quickly understand the status of testing at a glance. For example, if the quality ratio declines between two different testing runs (without introducing any new test cases), this is a sign that the new features or fixes are actually having a detrimental effect.

7. Unresolved vulnerabilities

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What it is: Unresolved vulnerabilities is an important security KPI that counts the number of unpatched flaws, holes, or loopholes that are currently present in the software. Businesses may also split up this figure based on the level of severity of each vulnerability (e.g., mild, moderate, or critical).

Why it’s important: Keeping track of security vulnerabilities is an essential practice for any software development team. The unresolved vulnerabilities KPI helps gauge the quantity and severity of security issues, so that they can be triaged appropriately. This metric can be combined with other KPIs, such as time to resolution, to better understand the effectiveness of a team’s software security efforts.

8. Automated tests

What it is: Last but not least, the automated tests KPI measures the number or percentage of automated test cases in the testing suite. If measured as a percentage, this KPI can be calculated by dividing the number of automated tests by the total number of test cases (automated and manual).

Why it’s important: While manual testing still has its place (e.g., for usability testing with end users), a great deal of the software testing process can now be automated. Because automation is much faster and more efficient than manual testing, increasing the percentage of automated tests can help improve a team’s overall productivity, leaving more time for manual tests.

Next Steps for QA Testing with KMS

Having a solid testing framework in place during the testing and quality assurance phase is essential. By using the most important KPIs for software quality assurance, organizations can more quickly comprehend where they are succeeding or falling short, and identifying areas for improvement if they do not meet the required business goals. 

The 8 KPIs for quality assurance listed above have only scratched the surface of the metrics you should know for your software testing plans. If your organization needs help formulating and working with quality assurance KPIs, it’s an excellent idea to reach out to a skilled, experienced software partner like KMS Technology.


KMS Technology is a global market leader in software development, testing services, and technology consulting. We provide a wide range of solutions to fit our clients’ needs—everything from software engineering and testing to mobile apps, DevOps, and artificial intelligence.

A partner like KMS can ensure that you have the right testing tools, and an experienced team of testers, in place to achieve your software development goals—well before the product goes to market. Our testing and QA services help businesses deliver the highest-quality final version of their software applications, with offerings that include API testing, mobile testing, and test automation.

Want to learn how KMS Technology can help make your software testing strategy a success? Schedule a free consultation today to discuss your business needs and objectives.

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