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Software MetricsTobias Henoeckl
- Wed May 31 13:59:20 2006
The software engineering community has been placing a great deal of
emphasis lately on metrics and their use in software development. The
following metrics are probably among the most valuable for a software
The Pizza Metric
How: Count the number of pizza boxes in the lab.
What: Measures the amount of schedule under-estimation.
If people are spending enough after-hours time
working on the project that they need to have
meals delivered to the office, then there has
obviously been a mis-estimation somewhere.
The Aspirin Metric
How: Maintain a centrally-located aspirin bottle for use
by the team. At the beginning and end of each month,
count the number of aspirin remaining aspirin in the
What: Measures stress suffered by the team during the project.
This most likely indicates poor project design in the
early phases, which causes over-expenditure of effort
later on. In the early phases, high aspirin-usage
probably indicates that the product's goals or other
parameters were poorly defined.
The Beer Metric
How: Invite the team to a beer bash each Friday. Record the
total bar bill.
What: Closely related to the Aspirin Metric, the Beer Metric
measures the frustration level of the team. Among
other things, this may indicate that the technical
challenge is more difficult than anticipated.
The Creeping Feature Metric
How: Count the number of features added to the project after
the design has been signed off, but that were not requested
by any requirements definition.
What: This measures schedule slack. If the team has time to add
features that are not necessary, then there was too much
time allocated to a schedule task.
The "Duck!" Metric
How: This one is tricky, but a likely metric would be to
count the number of engineers that leave the room when
a marketing person enters. This is only valid after a
requirements document has been finalized.
What: Measures the completeness of the initial requirements.
If too many requirements changes are made after the product
has been designed, then the engineering team will be wary
of marketing, for fear of receiving yet another change to
a design which met all initial specifications.
The Status Report Metric
How: Count the total number of words dedicated to the project
in each engineer's status report.
What: This is a simple way to estimate the smoothness with which
the project is running. If things are going well, an item
will likely read, "I talked to Fred; the widgets are on
schedule." If things are not going as well, it will say,
"I finally got in touch with Fred after talking to his
phone mail for nine days straight. It appears that the
widgets will be delayed due to snow in the Ozarks, which
will cause the whoozits schedule to be put on hold until
widgets arrive. If the whoozits schedule slips by
three weeks, then the entire project is in danger of
missing the July deadline."