Software metrics and performance indicators are more than simple mathematical and statistical elements. They are also elements of psychological and behavioral impact on people and organizations since the way in which they are measured strongly determines the reactions of both people and organizations. Metrics and indicators play an essential role in management, whether for statistical analyses or to align people and teams to common visions and objectives.
As children, we learn to monitor grades at school, our bank accounts and gas gauges as teenagers and adults, and cholesterol and triglyceride levels when we get older or face health problems. Amazingly enough, organizations manage to survive, albeit sometimes precariously, with management models that overlook indicators of performance and results. The current corporate culture of the software industry promotes strict financial control, copes with somewhat slack monitoring of commercial processes and, many times, accepts living in the dark regarding software productive processes. Such managerial behavior wastes the great benefits of metrics and performance indicators, some of which include:
While some assure that managing without metrics is impossible and others feel they can do with little available information, one thing is certain in software management processes: metrics and indicators not only greatly simplify management tasks, they are also essential for process evolution and, consequently, fundamental for organizations to reach high levels of quality and productivity.
Ernani Ferrari is the chief consultant of the Boston-based firm Mondo Strategies (www.mondostrategies.com) and specializes in business performance in the software industry. He serves many small, medium and large companies (including Microsoft, IBM and Wolters Kluwer), is a frequent international speaker (PMI, AMCHAM, SQE, IBM, etc.) and is the author of several articles and other publications for this market. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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