Measure Twice, Cut Once
The Perils of Performance Metrics
Metrics, K.P.I.’s, measuring — are some buzzwords that fill some people with dread.
Why could we want metrics?
- To identify trends in measurable things a team does
- To find where problems are
- Create targets to increase performance
- To justify the performance of the team to ‘someone’
- To compare teams
Good plans for metrics
- Measuring definable things — i.e. website uptime
- Using metrics to see how users are interacting with your website, and then interpreting them to make improvements
- A team choosing it’s own metrics (which they set and only they can see)
Where metrics can go wrong
- “Lies, damned lies, and statistics”
- Rewarding a certain behaviour measured by a metric — you can be assured that this will be what the team will focus on
- Making people question whether to do the right thing - as it might reflect badly in a metric
- Work like building a piece of web site functionality is hard to reflect in a metric — i.e. what size / value do we attribute to each piece of work
- Metrics lack the nuance of a deep understanding of what’s actually happening in a team and why they might be struggling or seem to be struggling
- Talk to the team. Work with them. Get an understanding of how they work and what their problems are — and look to help
- If a metric must be used, it is for the team to choose and know — not to be imposed upon them and potentially used against them.