Code Red: The Business Impact of Code Quality - A Quantitative Study of 39 Proprietary Production Codebases
Code quality remains an abstract concept that fails to get traction at the business level. Consequently, software companies keep trading code quality for time-to-market and new features. The resulting technical debt is estimated to waste up to 42% of developers’ time. At the same time, there is a global shortage of software developers, meaning that developer productivity is key to software businesses. Our overall mission is to make code quality a business concern, not just a technical aspect. Our first goal is to understand how code quality impacts 1) the number of reported defects, 2) the time to resolve issues, and 3) the predictability of resolving issues on time. We analyze 39 proprietary production codebases from a variety of domains using the CodeScene tool based on a combination of source code analysis, version-control mining, and issue information from Jira. By analyzing activity in 40,000 files, we find that low quality code contains 15 times more defects than high quality code. Furthermore, resolving issues in low quality code takes on average 124% more time in development. Finally, we report that issue resolutions in low quality code involve higher uncertainty manifested as 9 times longer maximum cycle times. This study provides evidence that code quality cannot be dismissed as a technical concern. With 15 times fewer defects, twice the development speed, and substantially more predictable issue resolution times, the business advantage of high quality code should be unmistakably clear.
Wed 18 MayDisplayed time zone: Eastern Time (US & Canada) change
13:00 - 14:00
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