From Soccer Pitch to Code: Exploring Expected Goals and Expected Bugs

Living in a Data-Driven World

Advancements in technology often create more complexity, which underscores the pivotal role that metrics play in shaping our understanding of what is happening in these complex systems. It should be no surprise, then, that companies of all sizes try to create metrics for everything and, using these numbers, attempt to predict the future, avoid problems, and make improvements. Good metrics can be a key driver of successful projects, and that is likely to only increase in the future.

In this blog, I will introduce you to a popular statistic from the world of athletics, and show you how it can be applied to our software projects to make them more successful.

Expected Goals

Let’s take a quick detour into a recent sports trend: “expected event statistics”. In soccer, my favorite sport, this statistical approach is applied in many ways, but can also be found in all other major sports. One way it is used in soccer is with the concept called “expected goals” (or xG for short), which is a statistical measure that assesses the quality of goal-scoring chances in a soccer match.

xG is often used to evaluate a team or player’s performance beyond the actual goals scored. The basic idea behind expected goals is to assign a probability value to each goal-scoring opportunity based on various factors such as the distance from the goal, the angle of the shot, the type of play, and historical data on similar chances. These factors are used to calculate the likelihood of a shot resulting in a goal, whether it did or not.

By calculating xG, you are able to gauge a team or player’s performance beyond the actual goals they scored.

From xG to xB

As interesting as that may be, you might be wondering what soccer statistics have to do with software development. There are of course some obvious common factors between the two pursuits, such as teamwork, working for results, following a plan, etc. However, I want to look specifically at how statistics and a data-based approach can be used in both soccer and software projects to catch trends, predict the future, and improve results.

In soccer, expected goals (xG) are a way of assessing the quality of goal-scoring opportunities. For QA, we might use the number of expected bugs (xB) to assess the quality of our development and testing processes. Below, I go into some detail about several ways in which a statistic like expected goals could be applied to the field of software testing. Like me, I think you’ll be surprised by how well the analogy works.

Quality

Image 1. Quality

If in soccer the quality of a goal-scoring opportunity is assessed based on factors like distance from the goal and angle of the shot, then for QA, factors that could influence the number of expected bugs could be the number of requirements, how much clarity we have in them, and level of details before the project is started.

For example, when assessing the requirements for a project, if we discover that requirements are not great, formatted well, or are missing key elements, then we could predict that this would likely cause a large number of expected bugs later in the project, causing the quality of the project to suffer.

Probability

Image 2. Probability

Besides quality, the xG in soccer also calculates the probability of scoring from a given chance. It’s calculated based on historical data and various predictive factors. The same could work for software development with expected bugs, which will help predict the number of potential issues and problems we will encounter on a project given various predictive factors. There are a number of factors that could influence that number such as the complexity of the project, planned testing hours, and the number of engineers on the QA team.

Performance/Expectations

Image 3. Performance/Expectations

Soccer teams can either overperform or underperform on their actual goals compared to expected goals. The same is true of software teams. They may encounter more or less bugs than expected based on the anticipated level of quality.

After a project is finished, we could analyze whether we encountered more bugs than expected, in which case the team underperformed and we need to understand why. The opposite is also possible—we encountered fewer bugs than expected, and more likely we will study the positives of this team for future projects.

Decision Making

Image 4. Decision Making

Soccer coaches, recruiters, business managers, and analysts all make decisions based on the xG metric, understanding its importance. The same could be applied to leadership on development teams—after assessing the expected bugs, team leaders could make a change to the strategy and approach, allocate more resources to the project, ask QA to perform more testing, or even bump release dates.

Experience

Image 5. Experience

In soccer, the experience of players and the team overall plays a significant part in assessing and predicting xG. The same could be well applied to development processes. For example, teams that have experience with particular technology, projects, or clients are more likely to get a new job done on the first try.

An experienced team will also have a better chance to do the job more cleanly and with fewer bugs than a less experienced team. With that in mind, the experience of team members and familiarity with an industry, software project, or client could all play an important role in calculating a more predictive “expected bugs” metric.

Summary

As you can see, there are several interesting connections between soccer’s “expected goals” and my proposed “expected bugs” metrics. Both types of teams involve a combination of strategy, skill, continuous improvement, and adaptation to challenges for optimal performance. Both types of teams would also benefit from tracking these metrics.

By incorporating the concept of expected bugs, I believe that software teams can move beyond a simple bug count to focus on the many different aspects of the software development process that impact quality. Doing so will lead to a more proactive and data-driven approach to software quality management.

Related Blog Posts

We hope you’ve found this to be helpful and are walking away with some new, useful insights. If you want to learn more, here are a couple of related articles that others also usually find to be interesting:

Our Gear Is Packed and We're Excited to Explore With You

Ready to come with us? 

Together, we can map your company’s software journey and start down the right trails. If you’re set to take the first step, simply fill out our contact form. We’ll be in touch quickly – and you’ll have a partner who is ready to help your company take the next step on its software journey. 

We can’t wait to hear from you! 

Main Contact

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Together, we can map your company’s tech journey and start down the trails. If you’re set to take the first step, simply fill out the form below. We’ll be in touch – and you’ll have a partner who cares about you and your company. 

We can’t wait to hear from you! 

Montage Portal

Montage Furniture Services provides furniture protection plans and claims processing services to a wide selection of furniture retailers and consumers.

Project Background

Montage was looking to build a new web portal for both Retailers and Consumers, which would integrate with Dynamics CRM and other legacy systems. The portal needed to be multi tenant and support branding and configuration for different Retailers. Trailhead architected the new Montage Platform, including the Portal and all of it’s back end integrations, did the UI/UX and then delivered the new system, along with enhancements to DevOps and processes.

Logistics

We’ve logged countless miles exploring the tech world. In doing so, we gained the experience that enables us to deliver your unique software and systems architecture needs. Our team of seasoned tech vets can provide you with:

Custom App and Software Development

We collaborate with you throughout the entire process because your customized tech should fit your needs, not just those of other clients.

Cloud and Mobile Applications

The modern world demands versatile technology, and this is exactly what your mobile and cloud-based apps will give you.

User Experience and Interface (UX/UI) Design

We want your end users to have optimal experiences with tech that is highly intuitive and responsive.

DevOps

This combination of Agile software development and IT operations provides you with high-quality software at reduced cost, time, and risk.

Trailhead stepped into a challenging project – building our new web architecture and redeveloping our portals at the same time the business was migrating from a legacy system to our new CRM solution. They were able to not only significantly improve our web development architecture but our development and deployment processes as well as the functionality and performance of our portals. The feedback from customers has been overwhelmingly positive. Trailhead has proven themselves to be a valuable partner.

– BOB DOERKSEN, Vice President of Technology Services
at Montage Furniture Services

Technologies Used

When you hit the trails, it is essential to bring appropriate gear. The same holds true for your digital technology needs. That’s why Trailhead builds custom solutions on trusted platforms like .NET, Angular, React, and Xamarin.

Expertise

We partner with businesses who need intuitive custom software, responsive mobile applications, and advanced cloud technologies. And our extensive experience in the tech field allows us to help you map out the right path for all your digital technology needs.

  • Project Management
  • Architecture
  • Web App Development
  • Cloud Development
  • DevOps
  • Process Improvements
  • Legacy System Integration
  • UI Design
  • Manual QA
  • Back end/API/Database development

We partner with businesses who need intuitive custom software, responsive mobile applications, and advanced cloud technologies. And our extensive experience in the tech field allows us to help you map out the right path for all your digital technology needs.

Our Gear Is Packed and We're Excited to Explore with You

Ready to come with us? 

Together, we can map your company’s tech journey and start down the trails. If you’re set to take the first step, simply fill out the contact form. We’ll be in touch – and you’ll have a partner who cares about you and your company. 

We can’t wait to hear from you! 

Thank you for reaching out.

You’ll be getting an email from our team shortly. If you need immediate assistance, please call (616) 371-1037.