Software development: What you measure tends to improve

Organizations spend fortunes on measuring everything left and right. Why isn't the same done for software? 

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You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

This quote from Peter Drucker is considered a truism in business management. As a result, organizations spend fortunes on measuring everything left and right. There is no shortage of management dashboards or fancy spreadsheets showing all aspects of business.

Now, if this is true, why don’t we measure software more than we do today? Clearly, the importance of software cannot easily be overstated. Business managers, IT managers and even architects lack the necessary insight. Why is this? It’s not because software can’t be measured.

First of all, it may be because they don’t know it can be measured. Let’s be frank: it can, and it’s actually being done by a growing number of organizations. Clearly, we at SIG need to do a better job in explaining that it can be done quite efficiently and very effectively.

Second, they may think that these measurements are geeky, nerdy and complex. Well, in the world of finance, complex revenue recognition rules, VAT transfer schemes, exchange rate hedging, etc. are also not the easiest to understand for a layman. Still, the resulting dashboards are clear to many. Similarly, in software measurements, the base data may well require advanced training, but it is possible to translate this into comprehensible information in management speak: using time and money as key ingredients.

Third, they may think IT is the exception to the rule; that when you measure it, it does not improve. In order to take that hurdle away, we have looked at our 10-year benchmark database containing 25 billion lines of code and analyzed whether it matters if you measure software sporadically, occasionally or regularly. Having done some 190.000 measurements, there are systems measured rarely, some more often and some on a very regular basis. The differences are clear: SIG monitoring really helps to keep software quality at a high level, speeding up change rates and reducing costs.

Want to know more? Have a look at our 2019 Benchmark Report.

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