Measurement


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This week we revisit the age-old statements, “I don’t want to be measured” and its alter ego, “management will use metrics against me.”  While often stated as if they are questions, both are positions. We weave in two recent techniques from our Re-read of Agile Conversations to consider the interests behind the statements  

Also, Jeremy Berriault weighs in on the need for testing strategies in agile on this edition of this QA Corner.  

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Continuous improvement through inspecting and adapting is a core tenant of an agile mindset, which dovetails well with every executive’s need to deliver the most value possible.  Measurement is an important tool to help teams and organizations ask the right questions at the right time. Flow metrics, not burndowns and velocity, need to be a big part of any IT organization’s approach to measurement. 

We also have a visit from Jon M Quigley who brings his Alpha and Omega of Product Development column to the podcast.  Jon discusses the complicated relationship between time, work entry, and promises. 

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As 2021 comes to a close we bring our re-read of Project to Product to a close as well (buy a copy and dive into the book https://amzn.to/2WzvPac – Amazon Affiliate link). The conclusion of the book brings the discussion back as a reflection on the turning point of the Age of Software. Given that this is my third read of this book my perception may be different than yours. At a philosophical level, I think the discussion of the macro change model, Kondratiev Wave discussed in the Introduction and Chapter 1, is extremely powerful. Perhaps the current pandemic makes me more aware of the slowing wave of disruption and the gathering wave of consolidation – this is a feature of Kondratiev Waves.  We have passed the turning point, and the survival of organizations requires focus. 

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This week Mauricio Aguiar and Christine Green join me to discuss the state and future of Software Measurement. Mauricio, Christine, and I are all recent Past Presidents of the International Function Point Users Group (the largest international software measurement association). The conversation is both provocative and enlightening. 

Note, the audio of my voice is a little muffled but the important parts of the conversation come from Christine’s and Mauricio’s lips. I know what the issue was and have added a step to my interview checklist. 

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Today we will speak to Kit Merker, COO of Nobl9 about Service Level Objectives (SLO). Kit provides down-to-earth advice for adopting and using SLOs to benefit teams AND organizations. 

Kit’s bio:

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As the previous chapters have highlighted, we can measure the flow items that enter and exit a value stream. There are a number of suitcase words (words that have many ideas packed in them) such as value streams and flow items. Chapter 5 of Project to Product connects flow items and metrics to business results. The integrated view is where the real power of the model is found (but only if you bite the bullet and understand the value streams in the organization).

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One of the most influential books in my career was Peopleware by Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister. One concept in the book was the concept of flow state, being fully in the zone so that a problem or piece of work can be focused on and delivered. Flow maximizes the amount of value delivered. Demarco and Lister’s introduction to flow paved the way for my interest in The Flow Framework. Chapter 3 of Project to Product introduces the Flow Framework.

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This week Dave Nicolette, author of Software Development Metrics from Manning Publications, and I talk about pragmatically using metrics. Dave and I talked about the value teams get from measurement regardless of the approach you are taking to deliver value. Measurement is feedback and measurement is leadership for guiding and improving how work is done.   

After you have listened I think you will want a copy of Dave’s book on metrics.  Use the link: http://mng.bz/r2Og  Also, yes there is more, you say you don’t want to pay full price?  Use the discount code podspam20 to get a 40% discount code (good for all Manning products in all formats).

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Read Part 1   Read Part 2

This is part 3 of an essay based on a presentation I did as part of IFPUG’s Knowledge Cafe Webinar Series. The presentation is titled Software Development: Preparing For Life After COVID-19. I have not heard if the final version has been posted. I do have a copy of the audio which I will edit.  I will also post a PDF of the slides in the near future (email me if you like to have a copy of the slides before they are posted). 

Once we have an idea of what is important: throughput, cycle time, productivity, and delivered defects, deciding when we care about measuring becomes critical. The answer is simple on paper, focus on the product backlog, what is between “Start and Done” and what crosses the line of done (production!). That we care about these three slices of time reflects the need to focus on how the work flows. Only counting the flow of value when it is done is a recognition that, at least in software, if code isn’t in production, you have not delivered. (more…)

 

On Friday, June 5th at 9 EDT (sign-up: https://bit.ly/3gH0Uy5) I am presenting as part of IFPUG’s Knowledge Cafe Webinar Series. The presentation is titled Software Development: Preparing For Life After COVID-19. Putting aside the impact of the current pandemic on healthcare, the environment, or office design, there will be pressure on the bottom line that managers will react to. Being effective and efficient is table stakes for survival, let’s raise the ante and know how effective and efficient we are to protect our jobs and those of our colleagues.  The first half of what will be synthesized into a script follows below.   (more…)

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