Standards Not (just) Measurement

To complete our trilogy we need to discuss Standards Not (just) Measurement. While Measurement is generally resisted for fear that it will be used for Personal Performance Reviews, there are organisations that Measure everything but then do nothing with the measurements they have accumulated. They have an increasing heap of measurement data being carefully recorded and stored by either some recording tools or some person who has had the task for years.

The Measurement data needs to be reviewed at least once a year to see if it is relevant to the needs of the business and whether it is even correct. There are too many cases of wasting time measuring either the wrong item, or at the wrong calibration, or at the wrong level. We may be measuring a total we think is related to our project only to discover that the count includes other projects that have nothing to do with us. We may be measuring something in metres when a measurement in millimetres is required to display any concerns. And we may be measuring individual occurrences of defect classifications and generating tables of data whereas we really only need the accumulated count and the trend to tell us how the project is progressing. The accumulated figures are worse than useless, they are misleading and decisions based upon them will be incorrect.

The second issue is that whatever Measurement we are taking must relate back to the Standards we set. if we cannot relate the Measurement to some Standard which we need to attain for business purposes then why bother taking the Measurement. So the Standards are just as important as the items used to check whether they have been attained. This means that the Standard must be set in a way that lends itself to a measurement indicating the Standard has been met. We could set a Standard that says that only so many Defects should be Critical. This is measurable provided we have a set (and Measurable) Standard for Critical and a set (and Measurable) Standard for a Defect.

It is not for nothing that Standards, Processes and Measurements all have to be reviewed.

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