Every time I mention that the use of Metrics is a must for anyone, people tend to snigger probably thinking; “here’s another manager that like excel, colors and numbers to make decisions”. And in a way they are correct. I do like Excel and yes, I do like colors; I am a visually oriented person. For me insight and overview are key to be able to say anything about progress, status and quality.

Metrics are a good tool to give you insight and overview regarding quality of a process or product. The definition of a metrics can best be explained as stated below:

A Metric is a quantitative measure of the degree to which a system, system component, or process possesses a given attribute. 

Metrics can be defined as “STANDARDS OF MEASUREMENT”.

Software Metrics are used to measure the quality of the project. Simply, Metric is a unit used for describing an attribute. Metric is a scale for measurement.

Suppose, in general, “Kilogram” is a metric for measuring the attribute “Weight”. Similarly, in software, “How many issues are found in thousand lines of code?”, here No. of issues is one measurement & No. of lines of code is another measurement. Metric is defined from these two measurements.

But metrics on themselves are dangerous as well since they do not tell the whole story, they should only be used as a mechanism to identify something is going on. That does not mean something is amiss, but it gives an indication to dig deeper.

Why should anyone use metrics? Well, some of the reasons are:

As a trigger to be able to act and steer in the right direction as early as possible

To identify trends; are we doing the right things, do changes have an effect (positive or negative)

To identify gaps in the process

Metrics should not be used for the following:

To judge people

To make a statement without the context

If they provide no added value (what if the metric is negative, can something be done)

If the metric takes more effort to create then it contributes in the quality of the product and/or the process.

During my years in the software testing profession, I have gathered some metrics that are useful for my everyday work. All the metrics I describe here can and should not be used separately and with discretion.

If you want to know more on the why, how and when regarding metrics, more can be found on softwaretestinghelp.