Producing metrics is only a Starting Point

Over the course of my last six blog posts I have considered:-

The production of a metric is never the end of a journey – it is always a Starting Point.

As noted in Concise Metrics, there should be value from the creation of a metric. You should be looking to answer a question, and/or understand why something is happening, and/or understand the impact of having made a change. As such, any metric produced as part of an Agile delivery is always likely to be the starting point for further discussion.

  • Why is ‘X’ happening?
  • How can we improve ‘Y’?
  • What can be done to reduce ‘Z’?

These discussions may result in the need for a closer look at the underlying data that produced the metric, and/or the need to consider a different metrics, and/or the need to consider more than one metric, and/or the need to combine metrics. In these circumstance, the metric(s) produced will be the starting point for further analysis.

As you begin to understand what is happening, but more importantly why it is happening, you can look to experiment in order to try and make continual improvements. As you experiment you will need to identify if your experiment is having the desired effect, while at the same time considering impacts you be having on other metrics in your or other delivery teams. The collation and analysis of metrics will allow you to do this and be a starting point for continuous improvement.

In a way this has brought me full circle and back to the post that started it all. In Getting the most from metrics I showed the following diagram.

This diagram represents a cyclical process of inspection and adaption, which could be applied to the production and interpretation of metrics.

Throughout this series of blog posts I have challenged you to review you metrics and ensure that they have meaning, to identify how they are evolving, to identify if you and your team trust your metrics, to identify if you have processes in place to consistently and repeatedly produce metrics, to think about how to make your metrics more imaginative, and, to review your metrics to ensure that they are providing value.

I firmly believe that if your metrics are Meaningful, Evolving, Trusted, Repeatable, Imaginative and Concise then you are at a Starting Point where you can use the information lying within those metrics to make informed decisions and undertake experiments that will improve the performance of your team.

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