My thoughts as an enterprise Java developer.

Friday, March 08, 2013

An Appropriate Use of Metrics

An Appropriate Use of Metrics: "Project management reinforces this perception by asking the question, "How many stories did we finish coding this week?" instead of the better question, "How many stories are we happy to release to end users?" or better yet, "How many stories did we release to end users?" An even better question is, "How much value have our users found from our recent releases?" "

"Use the following guidelines to lead you to a more appropriate use of metrics:

Explicitly link metrics to goals

Favor tracking trends over absolute numbers

Use shorter tracking periods

Change metrics when they stop driving change"

"The lines between the measure chosen to monitor progress towards the goal and the actual goal itself blur. Over time, the reason behind the measure is lost and people focus on meeting the target even if that metric is no longer relevant. A more appropriate use of metrics is to ensure that the chosen measure for progress, the metric, is teased out, yet related to its purpose, the goal."

"It is easy to monitor activity (how much time they sit at their computer) yet it is hard to observe the value they produce (useful software that meets a real need). "

"There may be significant difference between code coverage of 5% and 95%, but is there really a significant difference between 94% and 95%? Choosing 95% as a target helps people understand when to stop, but if it requires an order of magnitude of effort getting that last 1%, is it really worth it? "

"Looking at trends provides more interesting information than whether or not a target is met. Working out if a goal is met is easy. The difficult work, and one that management must work with people with the skills to complete is looking at trends to see if they are moving in the desired direction and a fast enough rate. Trends provide leading indicators into the performance that emerges from organizational complexity. It is clearly pointless focusing on the gap in a number when a trend moves further and further away from a desired state."

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