How to Run a Successful Software Engineer Performance Review

To ensure the success of a software development team, it’s critical to make a detailed check-up on its multiple performance aspects regularly. Of course, software development companies want to find out the progress developers have made, what goals have been achieved, what issues have been resolved, and the challenges that are still in progress, as well as the overall level of each employee's productivity and expertise.

Software Engineer Performance Review

At the same time, this information helps developers and software engineers to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, yet define the most effective ways to improve their performance. However, due to the variety of factors involved, the performance assessment can be really challenging to conduct.

In this article, we’ll explain why software engineer performance reviews matter, how to effectively measure the productivity of a developer, and what are the major challenges of running a performance review for software engineer. Along with that, you’ll be able to find out the most important performance metrics and uncover the best practices of conducting developer performance reviews.

Why Are Developers’ Performance Reviews Important?

When it comes to managing a software development team, every company is concerned about the ways to improve their employee performance: not only will it help to enhance the workflow and reduce costs, but it can also impact the client relationship and the quality of products/services delivered.

By setting up the software engineer goals and evaluating the progress of each worker, it becomes much easier to define the ways how to enhance their performance. Here are some of the most common examples of when companies start considering the performance review for software engineer:

  • Your team tends to miss deadlines or create low-value products. Both these aspects not only show the poor performance of developers but also hits the company’s reputation as well.
  • Developers have the signs of burnout. A recent study by Haystack shows that nearly 83% of software developers suffer from workplace burnout, which is in over half of all the cases caused by a high workload. The other probable triggers are inefficient processes and unclear performance goals for software engineers.
  • Your employees can’t find themselves in your company’s structure. If your company hasn’t set up the career goals for software engineer, developer, and other employees, they become confused with how they can develop their expertise.
  • Lack of feedback and communication. The nature of their occupation had made most of the developers isolated from the other departments. So, to ensure your employees can discuss their progress and the current state of the team, you can gain more insights on setting up the most effective software engineer goals.

When any of these, or some similar signs are detected, immediate implementation of software engineer performance review is no longer an option but a necessity. It will help you to gain priceless insights on the current team state, understand the progress, the strong sides of each member, and the aspects that require some input. Additionally, you’ll be able to provide up-to-date recommendations for software engineers and the most effective ways for their devs based on the current performance results.

Software Engineer Performance Review Dialogue

What Are the Types of Software Engineer Performance Reviews?

Many companies utilize software engineer performance review template examples, with each of those focusing on different performance metrics and business models. To define the most effective option that will ideally work for your enterprise, let’s now review the peculiarities of each in detail.

Manager Reviews

Manager reviews are commonly used in small-scale organizations. In this model, managers are required to conduct incorruptible and consistent reviews to evaluate the engine performance.

When giving feedback, managers are also expected to offer the most beneficial strategy to enhance the developer’s performance and resolve their challenges. In most cases, it includes the tools, approaches, and resources to study, such as mastering an additional programming language, completing the training, or taking advanced software courses.


The self-appraisal model is another software engineer performance review example that is commonly used for evaluating employee productivity. It implies conducting a thorough self-analysis of each of the metrics to help managers get a better idea of the overall performance and how it can be improved.

However, just like any other processes related to self-evaluation, in most cases it contains bias: people can be either too critical to what they’re doing or excessively confident about their performance.

Peer Reviews

This category is considered to be the most accurate model of performance review for software engineers, as it allows each of the team members and colleagues from the same department to act as a reviewer handling the assessment.

As a rule, the reviewers have spent most of their time with a software engineer that is being tested, worked on the same projects, etc but is commonly conducted anonymously.

Overall, this gives a great advantage to access the reviewee’s capabilities and define the ways for improvement, while anonymity encourages openness and better engagement into the reviewing process without hitting the workplace relationships.

360-Degree Assessment

Mixing up two or more evaluation models introduced above can enhance the process of software engineer performance review. This type of review implies analyzing multiple assessment sources, thus getting a more detailed review of the employee performance.

Usually, it’s categorized and delivered as feedback for each of the developers and enables getting detailed insights regarding the strong and weak points, yet allows setting up more accurate software engineer goals.

How to Effectively Measure the Performance of a Developer

Having uncovered the software engineer performance review examples, it’s now time to figure out which metrics you should include to get the most informative assessment. The most critical focus points for software engineer review usually includes:

  • Code Quality. Analyzing the expertise and professionalism based on the job done.
  • Productivity. Defining how fast a developer can write code
  • Teamwork. Understanding the ability to be a team player and cooperate with others

These performance metrics can be also analyzed from a customer-centric perspective, which represents the major concerns of your company:

  • What’s the input of a software engineer into reaching the project’s objectives?
  • How long will the project outcome be relevant to consumers?
  • How do the employee's skills and experience help other colleagues to grow?

With these practices in mind, you’re more than likely to get a clear idea of your employee performance, regardless of how long they’re working with you. Thus, you can always guide the developers from the employment and onboarding right to senior positions, help them to grow and develop as experts while enhancing your business performance.

Major Challenges of Reviewing the Developers’ Performance

Though the recent studies by Betterworks show that after adopting the continuous performance feedback, companies have significantly outperformed competition at a 24% higher rate, only a handful of enterprises started implementing the employee performance reviews into their workflow.

Usually, it is related to the challenges this process implies, which in fact can benefit the review process improvement.

  • Biased opinion. Any performance review will always depend on the reviewer’s perception of the workflow processes, which can help to get a better idea of the other team members’ results and personal competencies. With this said, you’ll get a “second opinion” that can help to uncover the valuable insights that were overlooked during the review.
  • Evaluation as a team or individual. If you’re torn between these two options, it’s more reasonable to set up personal goals for each developer with a huge focus on how these objectives can help your team to develop.
  • Lack of performance assessment. It’s not enough to conduct a performance review only to get the results. Apart from the detailed research and analysis of the employee performance, you should always provide feedback on how it can be improved, otherwise, it doesn’t make any sense.

Once we’ve learned the major challenges taken from the software engineer performance review examples, it’s time to master the best practices for running the assessment.

Software Engineer Performance Review Employees

7 Tips to Effectively Conduct a Developer Performance Review

Without any doubt, performance evaluations can encourage people to perform better and document the poor performance if it’s necessary. This approach helps to effectively invest the resources and time into your best workers and eliminate those that can’t meet the company’s requirements and objectives.

Here is some great advice on how to set up a successful performance review system for your developers.

#1 Set the Effective Criteria

One of the core aspects you should consider when making a performance review system for your developers is defining the right criteria of assessment. Along with the core ones, we’ve mentioned above (code quality, productivity, and teamwork), there are more specific ones that are commonly included in the review:

  • Number of tasks completed
  • Lines of code written
  • Code readability
  • Number of bugs
  • Test coverage

Also, it’s possible to evaluate the value of your software engineers by understanding their code jobs responsibilities, such as punctuality, proactivity, level of engagement, user empathy, initiativeness, proactivity, willingness to learn, and many others.

#2 Measure the Speed

Along with the aspects needed to get the work done, the second most important aspect that is always mentioned in software engineer performance review examples is speed and iteration.

This criterion helps to understand the time needed to handle iterative software development, which is exceptionally important while dealing with large teams working on the same project. The major task of a software developer here is to not only write great code but also deliver this specific task in certain time frames.

#3 Include Core Review Process

Another important process that shouldn’t be overlooked either is the code quality checkup. Even if delivering the code fast, its value still can be undermined if it requires thorough reviews, debugging, or some lines rewriting from scratch. Additionally, it may impact the overall project due to the delivery time delays.

For this reason, you should also include the code review process – when the code is examined by someone else and not by the authors themselves. It will help you to avoid the time-consuming checkups while running a project, yet is a great way to maintain the high-quality of development processes.

#4 Improve the Communication

Communication and interaction with the team are other essential aspects for setting up a productive workflow among developers. According to Plumb, nearly 86% of employees report a lack of effective collaboration and interaction as a result of their project failures. On the contrary, those teams featuring great communication can increase productivity by nearly 25%.

While communicating, engineers can discuss the ideas and brainstorm the most effective solutions for a specific project, as well as troubleshoot the issues. Additionally, it can enhance the experience exchange with their peers, team leads, and stakeholders which benefits to learning some new skills in practice.

#5 Perform Evaluations Consistently

No matter which type of performance assessment you’ve selected, it’s essential to run these on a regular basis. With all the benefits each model features, your managers can clearly understand the value of each employee, separating the great developers from those you shouldn’t waste the time and resources on.

In addition, making the annual reviews will allow you to evaluate the progress of your developers and get up-to-date insights on their performance.

Commonly, there are three main kinds of cadences used for performance reviews:

  • Annual performance assessment
  • Quarterly performance snapshot
  • Weekly check-in

#6 Decide Who to Include

Software developer performance review process is a complex process that implies multiple aspects analysis. As a human resource manager, you still may lack some expertise in specific criteria measuring: reviewing the code or analyzing the reports for different projects.

However, there is a great chance to ask colleagues from other departments to participate – that’s one of the most accurate illustrations of 360-degree reviews.

Thus, you will be able not only to get detailed feedback from the people that possess more expertise and authority within the scope but also can get explanations regarding the performance issues and their most effective solutions, and even get some great comments on how to improve the performance reviews for your employees.

#7 Review and Improve the Review Process Regularly

To make sure you’re getting the most accurate results from your reviews, don’t forget to always keep the review system up-to-date. This means analyzing the most recent round of performance reviews, defining the shortcomings that still need some improvements before starting the next round.

This method will not only help you to run the process smoothly but also ensure they’re targeting the most critical aspects of software developers’ workflow, deliver value for the performance analysis, and efficiently set up objectives.

Software Engineer Performance Review Process

Summing It Up

As you can see, software engineer performance review is one of the most effective approaches to evaluate the performance of your developers’ team and help them to build up the right strategy for their future growth.

Along with that, setting up the software engineer goals can benefit not only the employee workflow but also the entire company’s development, as it allows optimizing various internal processes of the enterprise, delivering the best products/services, and helping it to get more competitive on the market as well.

A dedicated development team will always work on its performance improvements to deliver first-class products within the shortest time. At Intellectsoft, we keep our developers always in the loop of the latest performance management trends in the IT industry to empower our clients and their workforces with the best software solutions for their business.

Are you searching for software professionals to hire?

Talk to our experts today to define the most effective example performance reviews for your enterprise and how they can benefit from day one!

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