How Do You Know Your Metrics Are Worth It

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GQM Paradigm

So you want to create some metrics.  More importantly, someone has told you that you need to create some metrics.  How do you know if you’re just making work for yourself or if you’re just putting a spin on the same old data?

Ask yourself what the goals of your project are.

In trying to determine what to measure in order to achieve those goals, I recommend using a Goal-Question-Metric (GQM) paradigm. It can actually be applied to all life-cycle products, processes, and resources. I’ve been using this process for a few years and it really helps me creat a quality metric.  The GQM paradigm is based on the theory that all measurement should be [1]goal-oriented i.e., there has to be some rationale and need for collecting measurements, rather than collecting for the sake of collecting. Each metric collected is stated in terms of the major goals of the project or program. [2] Questions are then derived from the goals and help to refine, articulate, and determine if the goals can be achieved. [3] The metrics or measurements that are collected are then used to answer the questions in a quantifiable manner.

Here is an example of the GQM in action:

Goal (use this 4-step process to shape a goal)

[1] Purpose
[2] Issue
[3] Object (process)
[4] Viewpoint

Goal 1 [1] Purpose
[2] Issue
[3] Object (process)
[4] Viewpoint
a maximum level of
customer satisfaction
from the Help Desk user’s viewpoint
Question 1 What is the current help desk ticket trend?
Metrics 1
Metrics 2
Metrics 3
Metrics 4
Number of help desk tickets closed
Number of new help desk tickets
% tickets outside of the upper limit
Subjective rating of customer satisfaction
Metrics 5 Number of new help desk tickets open
Question 2 Is the help desk satisfaction improving or diminishing?
Metrics 6
Metrics 7
Metrics 8
Metrics 9
Number of help desk calls abandoned
Number of help desk calls answered
Number of help desk calls sent to voicemail
Subjective rating of customer satisfaction

As the great Lord Kelvin once said, “If you can not measure it, you can not improve it.”

Image based on Basili, Caldiera, and Rombach “The Goal Question Metric Approach“, 1990

Defining Organizational Structure


organizational influence

Over the last 15 years, I’ve seen a lot of interesting ways an organizational structure will influence a project.  I’ve worked in projectized, functional, matrixed, and even composite environments.  These terms of management are interesting to me because I had to understand the definitions as part of the PMP exam.  At my last engagement, ironically, my boss went so far as to use Wikipedia to get the definition for Matrix Management without realizing I was one of the contributing authors to the page.  Personally, I would prefer to use the PMBOK.  I’ve noticed quite a few people have modified the Matrix definition on Wikipedia.

Today I was reading the PMBOK (I’m strange like that) reviewing differences between the 3rd and 4th editions.  What I noticed were definitions (in the glossary) for each organization structure with the exception of composite.  Composite, by the way, is new to the 4th edition.  Perhaps PMI will take notice and add it at a later date.  Below you’ll find figures and definitions of each.


Projectized is any organizational structure in which the project manager has full authority to assign priorities, apply resources, and direct the work of persons assigned to the project.


Functional is a hierarchical organization where each employee has one clear superior, and staff are grouped by areas of specialization and managed by a person with expertise in that area.


Matrixed is any organizational structure in which the project manager shares responsibility with the functional managers for assigning priorities and for directing the work of persons assigned to the project.


Introduced in PMBOK Revision 4, Composite Organization involves all of the previous structures at various levels. For example, even fundamentally functional organizations may create a special project team to handle a critical project.