Requirements and Metrics
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Today we have with us, Theresa Kratschmer writing about the importance of metrics in requirements management. Theresa Kratschmer is a senior software engineer who joined IBM T.J. Watson Research in 1996. There she worked on defect analysis, requirements, and Orthogonal Defect Classification deployment. In 2010, Theresa moved to sales where she is a technical specialist focusing on the Rational Jazz products. Previous to joining IBM, Theresa developed software for real-time, graphics, and database applications in the medical electronics industry. She can be reached out at ther
Everybody is talking about metrics today. Numbers have always been important to builders, financial wizards, and politicians. If you were a software developer though, you may have taken a lot of math courses but you didn’t really use that math directly. So, why the sudden interest in software and metrics or specifically in requirements and metrics?
Metrics are important whenever you need accuracy such as building a house or sewing a dress. They are important when you need to work efficiently and you can’t afford waste. In today’s business environment, every organization out there, whether a finance company, government agency, or healthcare organization needs to work more effectively and produce more data, more projects, more software with far fewer resources. Numbers, or metrics, is the way to do this. Since requirements are the foundation of software, it is one of the best places to apply metrics. By applying measurements to metrics, we get insight into the organization’s requirements activities. We find out how much progress is being made, whether we have gaps in the downstream deliverable related to requirements and how big our project risk might be when changes occur to those requirements. Applying measurements to requirements also allows us to make continuous improvements.
So if metrics are so valuable, why aren’t more people collecting them? There are primarily three reasons
The best way to collect metrics, of course, is to do it automatically as the team goes through their daily activities. As they define and refine requirements, process requirement reviews, perform change management and quality management activities, data can be collected automatically, processed, and made available in real-time. This is exactly what an integrated solution like Jazz platform does. It basically removes this obstacle and makes data collection, processing and display of data a natural part of the project team’s daily acti
Understanding data and resultant reports does take some skill. But it is not complicated. I always start by articulating exactly what information I want to view or what questions I need answered. Then I look for the data that will help me answer those questions. For example, you might want to which high priority requirements have no test cases associated with them. One of the capabilities with the Jazz suite that helps here is that the reports have a section called “What does this report tell me?”. When you run a report, you actually have some automatic interpretation built in. Of course, I always recommend people start simply. Your skills will grow as you get more comfortable understanding and interpreting the data. Jazz also allows you to set up filters which help you answer specific questions at the click of a button. This makes analysis automatic and very, very easy.
Improvement Actions for Continuous Improvement
Identifying and implementing actions is one of the most important aspects of ensuring continuous improvement. It’s very important when analyzing data that indicates weaknesses in your process to actually identify improvement actions. Not only do you need to identify how you will improve your project and processes you follow, but you also need to assign owners and a date for implementation to make sure you do actually make improvements.
I hope I’ve convinced you that metrics are important – well worth the time and effort it takes to collect and analyze data. By identifying and implementing improvement actions your organization can make considerable progress in working more efficiently and really achieving the ability to do more with less.