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How Do You Know Your Metrics Are Any Good

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 Originally authored by Derek Huether

gqm diagramSo you want to create some metrics.  More importantly, someone has told you that you need to create some metrics.  How do you know if you’re just making work for yourself or if you’re just putting a spin on the same old data?

Ask yourself what the goals are.

In trying to determine what to measure in order to achieve those goals, I recommend using a Goal-Question-Metric (GQM) paradigm. It can actually be applied to all life-cycle products, processes, and resources. I’ve been using this process for years and it really helps me create a quality metric, independent of processess lifecycle.

The GQM paradigm is based on the theory that all measurement should be [1] goal-oriented i.e., there has to be some rationale and need for collecting measurements, rather than collecting for the sake of collecting. Each metric collected is stated in terms of the major goals. [2] Questions are then derived from the goals and help to refine, articulate, and determine if the goals can be achieved. [3] The metrics or measurements that are collected are then used to answer the questions in a quantifiable manner.

Here is an example of the GQM in action:


Image based on Basili, Caldiera, and Rombach “The Goal Question Metric Approach“, 1990


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