I am about to participate in a discussion with management regarding measuring our testing efficiency as a QA organization. The main reason behind this is that half of our team is contracted out and our business would like to provide some metrics of how effective/efficient we are, so that we have basis data on which to negotiate contract parameters with the service agreement of our contractors.

I have poked around a little and most of the opinion I have found on this subject revolves around developer efficiency: lines of code, story points delivered, defects introduced, etc.

But what about testers? Our testing is mostly requirements based, and a mix of manual, semi-automated, and automated testing (not because we haven't gotten around to automating everything, but because some things are not automatable in our test system).

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    stevemcconnell.com/ieeesoftware/bp09.htm might be useful in some way.
    – user40980
    Commented Feb 8, 2013 at 16:10
  • This is strange. If you've to test gmail.com and you fail to find a single defect, do you think you failed? If you write a million test cases for something very petty, do you think it makes you successful? Look for Defect Leakage which means the defects which were unidentified during SIT and slipped through UAT. There are other ways QA adds value to overall SDLC.
    – user177814
    Commented May 4, 2015 at 14:36

5 Answers 5


Number of test written is useless, and a high number of bugs found can be a measure of poor development rather than efficient QA.

Automation measures (code coverage, feature coverage...) can be good, but I think they're a more help to development (as a developer, will I know if I break something accidentally) than customers (i want to do that and it doesn't work).

Since quality is good if customers don't encounter problems, so a good measure of the effectiveness (not the efficiency) of a QA team and process is the measure of bugs found by customers that haven't been found by QA.

The main problem with that metric is that there can be a considerable delay between the work done and when you start having meaningful numbers.


There are a few metrics that we used at my last job to evaluate QA:

  • Number of bugs found. I hate this one. It's like "Number of lines of code written" for a developer.
  • Number of automated test cases produced.
  • Percentage of total application covered in functional testing.
  • Number of bugs found in staging vs production.

In the end, your QA team's job is to find the bugs before they get out in the wild. Their metrics should be based on actually achieving that goal. If there is a low coverage of test cases, minimal amount of automated tests, and a high rate of bugs in production, then they aren't doing a good job. However, if they have a good track record of finding the bugs long before they hit prod, their metrics should be pretty high.

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    Just a remark: the first three are management metrics, meaning that the contractor manager should try to optimize that in the near term (monthly or quarterly). However, only the 4th one has real business consequences, and should be used as sole basis for contract renewal. (A bad manager may be able to score very well on the first three metrics by inflating numbers, but still let a lot of bugs leak into the public.) Unfortunately, the 4th has a data collection cycle of 2-3 years.
    – rwong
    Commented Feb 9, 2013 at 6:45
  • functional testing should be black box testing, or am I wrong? Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 6:59
  • "Number of bug found": It should be a measure applied on developer. Moreover, If as a tester I undergo this indicator, I'll soon become friend with a developer willing to introduce bugs in the code I test.
    – mouviciel
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 8:47

QA should be measured by two main metrics: how many bugs get past QA to be found in the field? What are their severity?

You might be able to ding QA for finding severe bugs closer to release than dev-complete. You might be able to ding QA for not completing testing by their estimated completion date (per feature).

Though in the end, I fear you'll spend more money trying to measure the effectiveness of your contracting staff than savings gained by using a contracting staff...


The company I work uses a number of QA metrics.

The one that I feel is most relevant is code coverage. A tool like EMMA works great as they write thorough automated tests in addition to their manual tests.

Whatever you do, do not focus on number of tests. That's about as useful as LOC per day.


Many ways to measure performance in development and testing phases during project execution. We used below measures in our projects. Development performance measured by 4 popular Code metrics(Maintainability index, Cyclometric complexity, Depth of inheritance, Class couplings). For C# will get it in Microsoft Visual Studio. For test coverage Ncover/Ndepend is very useful. Testing performance measured by no of development bugs -rolling over by last 4 sprints System testing bugs rolling over last 4 sprints. No of automation test passed in particular release/Features delivered.

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