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Making Metrics Practical - INCOSE

Making Metrics Practical - INCOSE - Making Metrics More...

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Making Metrics More Practical in Systems Engineering: Fundamental Principles for Failure and for Success Tom Gilb Result Planning Limited [email protected] Copyright © 2008 by Tom Gilb. Published and used by INCOSE with permission. Abstract. Quantification is the essence of real engineering. Engineering is good at quantifying many traditional aspects of systems. But there are weak points. For example in quantification of emerging ‘soft’ aspects of systems like usability and security, and within the emerging sub- disciplines of software and data. We need to use the quantification tool in all critical aspects of of our systems, not just in traditional sectors. This paper will explore the extension and strengthening for the metrics discipline in the weakest areas of systems engineering. Failure Prone Principles Here are a set of principles, as a framework for discussing poor practice, and its avoidance. 1. If you measure what is easy rather than right, you’ll lose the fight. 2. If you measure too late, you deserve your fate. 3. If you measure too few, then the ones you left out, will lack any clout. If you measure too many, you will also lose out. 4. If the metric level is too low, your users are in for a sorry blow. 5. Know the role of your metric, or it can roll over on your project. 6. If you fail to quantify a critical variable, it will fail to be what you need. 7. Do not trust managers to define the most critical metrics, help them out 8. Some metrics support other metrics. You’d better know which is the star, and which is the supporting role. 9. Metrics don’t add up, but you need to understand the set of them. 10. Metrics are a generally good tool, until they are used carelessly, or to manipulate people. These will be discussed in more detail below. Success Principles Here is another set of principles, less warning of bad practices, and more proscriptive of good practices. 1. Develop requirements metrics top down from critical management objectives. 2. Connect metrics with metrics. 3. Develop metrics with early rapid numeric and non-numeric feedback.
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4. Use metrics to describe metrics, for credibility, and uncertainty 5. Use metrics to describe solutions, designs, and architecture. 6. Use multiple metrics to compare alternatives. 7. Measure critical variables, but with sufficient qualities and lowest costs. 8. Use metrics to review specifications. 9. Use metrics to prioritize, and determine priorities. 10. Use metrics to create commonly understood, and really agreed requirement or objectives. Detailed Warning Principles 1. If you measure what is easy rather than right, you’ll lose the fight. The drunk knew he’d lost his watch down the street in a dark corner, But it was tempting to look for it under the lamp post Determine what is most critical to control, and then find a way to quantify it - there is always a useful way then find ways to measure that quantity There are always useful ways If you can’t imagine the ways to quantify or measure something, the internet can.
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