Category Archives: Metrics – Goal Settings

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Most valuable metrics for a software project:

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 bottle.
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.”


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Use of regression analysis

What is Regression?

The statistical process with the help of which we are in position to predict (or estimate) the values of one variable-called “Dependent Variable” from known values of another variable(s) – called “Independent Variable(s)” is known as Regression.

For example, if we know that the effort and size in a software project are correlated, we may find out the expected amount of effort for a given size of project.

When there is more than one independent variable, its called “Multiple Regression”.


What is Regression analysis?

Regression Analysis is a method of finding the line of best fit for a set of data.

It is a mathematical procedure that produces two results.

First it produces an equation to match the data gathered. There are different types of analysis (linear, quadratic, cubic, exponential, etc.). So one may want to check them to see which one matches the collected data most closely.

Second, regression analysis (or multiple regression analysis, if more than one independent variables are involved) may produce numbers to indicate how closely the new formula fits the data.

For example, the dependent variable might be overall satisfaction and the independent variables be price, quality, value for money, delivery time and staff knowledge.

The multiple regression analysis would then identify the relationship between the dependent variable and the independent variables – this is presented as an equation or model (formula) that might look like this:

Overall satisfaction = 1.37 * price rating + 0.91 * quality rating + 0.64 * delivery time rating + 2.42 (a constant)


Approach to Regression Analysis

The standard approach in regression analysis is:

Gather/take data –  Past data for given independent variable(s) and corresponding dependent variable is collected.

Determine the form of equation to fit – We plot the dependent and independent data sets (in case of multiple independent variables, take one variable at a time) on a special graph called a scatter plot which shows the existence (or otherwise) of statistical relationships between variables. Examine the pattern being formed by these sets.

Fit an equation – Depending on the number of independent variables, a simple (Y=a + bX) or multiple regression equation (Y = a + b1*X1 + b2*X2 + … + bp*Xp) is selected.

Evaluate the fit using statistics – such as Coefficient of Determination (R), Standard Error of Estimate (SE), etc.

The first number is the correlation coefficient, r. This is the linear correlation coefficient, for use in indicating how closely the data fits a straight line. The closer r is to 1 (for a positive correlation) or -1 (for a negative correlation) the better the fit. A value of 0 indicates no fit at all.

Second is R (r2), the coefficient of determination, which indicates how closely the curve fits the data. It’s values range from 0 to 1, with 1 being a perfect fit.

Standard error of estimate is a measure developed to measure the reliability and accuracy of the regression equation to predict the value of dependent variable for a given value(s) of independent variable(s). It measures the variability of the observed values of dependent variable (Y) around the regression line.

Use the equation to predict the value of dependent variable for given value(s) of independent variable(s).

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Origin of Arabic Numbers

The numbers that are used worldwide are basically Arabic numbers. During the 8th century when an Indian Gastronomist came to the Almansour royal palace with a book “Sod Hanta” (about astronomy and mathematics) written by Brahma Jobta, Almansour ordered to translate the book into Arabic and explore more sciences.


Arabic numbers:


1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9




In designing the Arab numbers, Al Khawarizmi based his choice of a particular form on the number of angles that each number should contain. For instance, the number one contains only one angle, number two has two angles, and number three includes three angles, ects… The arabs popularise these algorithms, but their origin goes back to the phenecian merchants that used them to count.


And the most interesting and intelligent of all….. Zero has no angle !



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Goal Based Measurement & Reporting Framework


“Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement.
If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it.
If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it.
If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.”
– H. James Harrington: An international performance improvement guru
“What gets measured gets done,
what gets measured and fed back gets done well,
what gets rewarded gets repeated.“
– John E. Jones: Leadership trainer

Why Measurement Framework?

  • To provide a consistent approach for systematically defining, collecting, analysing and reporting on the measurement performance across the organisation.
  • Identified measurement to be specific, attainable, agreed, understood, timely, focussed & relevant and ultimately automated.
  • To become a management tool for assisting management to make more informed decisions via a structured reporting framework.
  • Promotes Quality Culture initiative for the early discovery and correction of problems that can be more difficult or costly to resolve later.
  • Streamline reporting at various level of management and facilitates a proactive management strategy.
  • Create a historical database to assist in deriving process capability baselines, performance baselines, knowledge management, estimation and prediction models

Measurement Principles:
Measures should aim at the long-term and should be forward-thinking initiative designed to fundamentally change the way we do business. It is not a post-mortem of what happened but a step towards how we do better in the future.


 Measurement Principle


DIKW Hierarchy
To be of value, data must be organised and formatted into information and captured for analysis: Who did what, when, and where?
Once that’s been accomplished, the information can be analysed to gain knowledge: Why a certain event happened, and what might be done about it (wisdom).

Measurement Process Overview


Measurement & Reporting Framework


  • Effective Communication: Provides objective information thereby reducing the ambiguity.
  • Improving Process- Change for maximum effect: Enables us to understand our processes so that informed decisions can be made in order to manage and improve our processes.
  • Objective feedback on Status: Objectively assesses the performance of activities and the quality of the product.
  • Ensuring Consistency: Eliminates variation and ensures consistent outcomes. Optimises predictability of process outcomes.
  • Provides Early Warning: Facilitates a pro-active management strategy.

Motivation for Metrics

  • Effectiveness: A process characteristic indicating the degree to which the process output (work product) conforms to requirements.(Are we doing the right things?)
  • Efficiency: A process characteristic indicating the degree to which the process produces the required output at minimum resource cost. (Are we doing things right?)
  • Quality: The degree to which a product or service meets customer requirements and expectations.
  • Timeliness: Measures whether a unit of work was done correctly and on time.
  • Productivity: The value added by the process divided by the value of the labour and currency consumed.