Let’s talk about Metrics

Tamara Torres – julio 4, 2018

Categories: AgileInnovaciónMobileAutomotiveCommunicationsConsumer and RetailFinancial ServicesHealthcareManufacturing and IndustrialMediaTechnology

Metrics…no one truly likes them, but let’s be honest: they are very useful in our daily work, once we know what they are and how to use them.

Let’s begin by defining what a metric is. There are two approaches we can focus on:  the formal approach or the common approach.

The formal approach defines metrics as:

 ..a recurring measurement which possesses an informational, diagnostic, motivational or predictive power of some kind”.

The common approachs states that a metric is a regular measurement we get in order to have  reliable and objective information we can use to make decisions.

Now that we know what a metric IS, let’s move on to what they are used FOR. Within the  the definition of the common approach is a clue: they help us measure what has happened and predict what could happen.  Any metric that provides us with this type of information can help guide work in progress and monitor its iprovements.

It is very common to associate metrics with any type of leadership or management role.  However,  we have to keep in mind that metrics should be easily understood by any team member and stakeholders, for they are key indicators of progress and impact. This being said, it is important for a team to be able to define and work with metrics which best fit them, respecting the team’s uniqueness and its specific objectives.

How do we identify a “good” metric? It’s very simple! Just remember you are S.M.A.R.T.:
Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant & Time-bound.

Now that we are clear on  what metrics are and what they are for, let’s get to the good stuff: EXAMPLES.

There are lot of differents metrics you can search, apply and use daily, In this essay we will review  some of the most commonly used. However, as mentioned before, each team needs to identify the ones that are most suited to their objectives and personality.

In order to classify metrics we can talk about the ones that help guide a project, usually used by Managers to supervise its progress.  We can also talk about metrics that help monitor a team while improvements are performed. To keep it simple, we are going to describe two of each category:

Burn Charts. They show  how the team delivers during the evolution of a project, based on empiric measurement. It refelcts the quantity of work done (a.k.a Burn-Up ), or can show the quantity of work that still needs to be done ( a.k.a Burn-down).

Burn Charts help identify whether the team will fulfill the delivery target, indicate how much time the team needs to achieve it, and show  details of the progress of completion at specific date. For this information to be as accurate as possible, it is crucial that all team members take on the responsibility of updating tasks and observations accurately.

Cumulative Flow. Also known as CFD, it is a visual representation of the completed  work and its progress. The graph indicates the bottlenecks, the dates where a partial delivery is possible, identifies where the big components are, and so on. It is very similar to a Burn Chart, the difference being that a CFD can provide more detailed information regarding  quantity of progress achieved or yet to be achieved.

Velocity.  This metric measures the quantity of work completed during an iteration, helping reduce the variations and improve predictability for future ones. It indicates  whether a team’s deliveries are or are not incremental, and reveals if delivery is consistent and predictable throughout a certain period of time.

Niko Niko Calendar.  Since people are key factors within the measurement system, this metric is about and for them! It shows the emotional state of each team member over time, based on a simple daily check of their mood registered in 3 states:
Positive, Neutral and Negative.

This information allows us to forsee any systematic problems that can affect the team’s morale. It could also detect any issues during the project’s evolution. Since it is designed to measure people, it can be useful for Managers by providing them with feedback to help  evaluate how they are overseeing and working with their teams.  It is important for each team member to be honest and transparent for the use of this metric to be effective.

Enclosed are some other metrics that are commonly used and could be of interest:

  • Percentage of Scope Complete
  • Earn Value
  • Budget Burn
  • Buffer Burn Rate
  • Earned Business Value
  • Cycle Time
  • Throughput
  • Process Cycle Efficiency
  • Version Control History
  • Static Code Analysis Metrics
  • Emotional Seismogram
  • Happiness Index
  • Ball in Bowls
  • Health and Happiness
  • Personality Type Profiles

Depending on the characterics of a team and its goals, there are many different metrics that can be  customized for specific needs or personalities. But most importantly,
metrics requires and encourage team work. As John Dunne once stated,
“No man is an island”.

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