Our experience as Software Measurement consultants has taught us that knowledge gained in the act of measurement can be as valuable to project managers, as their use of our measurement results.

For example, as part of our measurement role we are often asked to functionally size a project early in its lifecycle for input into estimation models. In order to perform the functional size measurement we need to dissect the functional requirements for the project, model them and individually catalogue and quantify each base functional component. In doing so we make observations about the status of the project and the quality of both the requirements and the specifications and based on our experience with similar projects, we are able to make predictions on the likelihood of the project’s success.

With time, as our predictions have become reality, we have begun to recognise that our observations, if reported, could have provided valuable input into the overall management of the project and if heeded could have prevented numerous project failures. The act of measuring provides quantitative assessments of the quality and status of a project that is rarely seen by others and the measures we take give insights that can provide real benefits to the project team beyond just monitoring their productivity.

This realisation has caused us to change our approach and to focus on using the role of measuring to provide ongoing advice to the project whilst it is progressing. We use the measurements to quantify our observations so our recommendations are now a critical part of the project decision making. Metrics experts observe and measure without any vested interest and as such provide unbiased and independent assessment of the project risk, quality and status. The measurement results support these observations.

As metrics consultants we had been confusing the measure with the goal. Key objectives should not be the measurement results but successful software development projects. Delivery on time and on budget with the right functionality is the true measure of the worth of ‘metrics’ to a project. To make measurement an integral part of the software development process we first have to make it relevant to the project’s success.

This change of emphasis has meant that we are now perceived by our clients as providing project governance through the act of measurement and called “Scope Managers” not “Metrics Consultants”. We have shifted the perception of the project team from seeing us as just another project overheard, to being someone that can assist project teams to better manage and control their risk and optimise their chances of success.

The full paper is available to download.