Creating a Counter Culture

Karl Wiegers

Despite challenges, many organizations effectively measure aspects of their project work. Here are some best practices for developing and maintaining a successful metrics program, from defining items and procedures to making it a habit and respecting privacy.

Fear is often the first reaction to a new metrics program. People are afraid the data will be used against them, that it will take too much time to collect and analyze the data, or that the team will fixate on getting the numbers right rather than on building good software. Creating a measurement culture and overcoming such resistance will take diligent, congruent steering by managers who are committed to measurement and sensitive to these concerns.
 
To help your team overcome the fear, educate them about the metrics program. Tell them why measurement is important and how you intend to use the data. Make it clear that you will never use metrics data either to punish or reward individuals — and then make sure you don’t. A competent project manager does not need metrics data from individuals to distinguish the effective team contributors from those who are struggling.
 
Respect the privacy of the data. It’s harder to abuse the data if managers don’t know whom the data came from. Classify each base measure you collect into one of these three privacy levels:
 
Individual— Only the individual who collected the data …

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