Managing A Measurement Program

A measurement program is a long-term effort requiring the cooperation and coordination of a broad set of participants. One way to support the program is to establish a metrics infrastructure. A metrics infrastructure includes the following:

■ A management method

■ Data collection procedures

■ Ongoing program training

The management method should incorporate an integrated group/committee that performs each of the measurement activities. This group is similar to a conventional project steering committee and includes representatives from general management, IS management, system users, and IS development/maintenance. It differs from a project management group primarily because it survives beyond the implementation of the program. As a long-term, ongoing process, measurement must have a long-term, ongoing management committee.

The management group is critical to the success of a measurement program because it keeps program participants aware of the importance of their activities and provides the broad view necessary to the survival of the program. The committee determines how the program goals evolve over time and serves as a touchstone for their achievement.

It is also beneficial to establish a metrics user group to share experiences and coordinate training. Training is a key element of the metrics infrastructure that should be periodically provided. Training programs encompass data collection, analysis, and interpretation procedures so that project participants understand not only how to collect data, but also how to apply it. The infrastructure should also include tools to automate the collection and analysis phases of measurement, as well as a consolidated database to store all metrics data.

Because the results of a measurement program are not immediately discernible, people must perform many tasks before a visible, attributable outcome is perceived. Training is one way to ensure that all project participants understand the goals and procedures that underlie what may appear, at times, to be a slow process. It also helps to alleviate employee concerns about the application of the measurement program results.

Many of the activities of measurement require the cooperation of diverse groups of people. Even though the concepts of metrics and measurement conjure up an image of required technical expertise, the most appropriate leader for the measurement program is an individual with excellent communication and negotiation skills.

Information about programs used in other companies is helpful during the process of defining program objectives and formulating metrics. The recommended reading list provides a source for gathering this information.

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