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Unformatted text preview: T wenty years ago, I left the security (and frustration) of working for a large corporation to begin a consult- ing career in software measurement. Since then, Ive helped many firms implement software measurement programs. For some clients, the motivation for measurement was process improve- ment; for others, it was resolv- ing an immediate crisis and get- ting a product out the door. In this column, Ill share the eight secrets of software measure- ment that Ive learned. I call them secrets because they were not obvious to me at the begin- ning. Only in retrospect, as Ive tried to discern patterns of suc- cess and failure, have these se- crets become clear. Its not about the metrics Four-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong titled his autobiography Its Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life (Berkeley Publishing Group, New York, 2001). Although he has spent count- less hours on the bike, for him, it was only a vehicle for his fight back from life-threat- ening cancer. By the same token, measurement is not an end in itself; its a vehicle for highlighting ac- tivities and products that you, your project team, and your organization value so you can reach your goals. But its only a tool. To get anywhere, you must navigate the road youve got to make decisions and act. To create an effective measurement pro- gram, you first must understand exactly where you want to go or what you want to accom- plish; that is the why of measurement. Success comes from channeling an organizations pain into action No matter how much I dislike this secret, I have found it to be so. It comes back to the fact that its not about the metrics; its about the strength of the motivation to know or improve something and to follow through with action. No matter how noble the inten- tion, Lets do metrics just doesnt provide sufficient motivation. The single biggest determinant of mea- surement success lies in the answers to the following questions: How badly do you want to know the information, and how will you use it? Establishing a measurement program is easy; keeping it going is hard I am continually impressed by how easy it is to think about potentially useful measures and how hard it is to implement an effective measurement program. Within a project or organization, its often easy to get people en- thused about measuresbut all too often, that enthusiasm does not translate into ac- tion. Even when it does, it is unlikely to be sustained. Getting the numbers is easy; do- ing something with them is not....
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- Spring '09