Measurements Not (just) Process

Last week we talked about having a Process to achieve a Standard. This week we wanted to add the concept of Measurement and start with a quote from Tom DeMarco. “If you don’t measure, then you’re left with one reason to believe you are still in control: hysterical optimism.” This came from his book ‘Controlling Software Projects: Management, Measurement, and Estimation’ New York, NY,; Yourdon Press 1982.

Many people will designate a standard and design a Process to achieve that Standard but will never put in the Measurement. The Measurement sees whether the Process has achieved the Standard and whether there is further room for improvement.

There are two reasons for measuring.

Even the most stable of Processes may deviate slightly from the mean now and then (or all the time!) but if is in statistical control that should be all. It is when it starts to drift higher or lower on a continuous basis that we need to check for problems.

The second reason for measurement is to determine where and when further improvement is necessary. Just because we have achieved the initial standard does not mean that there is not room for another and higher standard or a completely different standard now that we know more about the process. Inaction is a recipe for stagnation and being bypassed by the competition.

So we need Measurements to ensure that we have achieved what we set out to do and to identify opportunities for further improvement. Measurements may take many formats and not always obvious ones. We may have objective (countable or able to be calculated) measurements or we may have subjective measurements based on how people feel about what has occurred and been achieved. Either way we need to be able to state that we have or have not successfully used our process to reach our standard.

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