We love metrics!

This article is part of the “No dogma” series. Do not forget to read the other articles on this topic.

At pm.stackexchange.com there is a very common kind of question:

What are the best metrics to monitor QA?

I want to monitor the performance of the QA team. I have the following data available : foo, bar and qux. I thought of measuring the foo/bar ratio per week. Is there any better metrics?

My two cents is that this kind of question is completely irrelevant!

First this kind of question begs for a dogmatic answer : a one-stop solution, an universal metric that would fit every situation, disregarding any specificity of the environment or the business, a magical performance index. I’m afraid this sort of things does not exist.

The first thing you need to ask yourself when searching for a metric is probably “why?” : What are we trying to achieve by measuring this ? Basically there are three kinds of metrics :

  • motivation metrics are meant to catalyze improvement. Scrum’s velocity can be a good example. Defect rate can be another one if the goal is to improve QA.
  • business-related metrics are aligned with strategy at the business level. There is a goal that must be achieved at the company level and we need to know if we are on track to achieve this goal.
  • metrics that should not exist!

Hence a much better question would be

Our company wants to reduce customer dissatisfaction. Customers mostly complain about the poor quality of our software. Moreover they also claim that we do not release often enough and that we take too much time to fix defects in the product. 

But is there still a question?

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