July 6, 2021

A Simple Concept Map for Metrics

Lord Kelvin is quoted for having said that (scientific) knowledge requires that we are able to measure and express something in numbers. Metrics tell us about systems or processes we manage, for example the software system we develop and the development process of our team. They can be used to

  • define and track progress towards a goal,
  • quantify a risk,
  • measure specific quality aspects (e.g. availability), and so on.

While digging deeper into the topic in preparation for a talk, I've put together a concept map for the basic terms around metrics.

Concept map of metrics terminology

Three of these terms stick out to me:

  • System is a part of the world we are interested in, for example the software system we are engineering. Identifying this part and drawing a line around it is the first step to building knowledge.
  • Context is on the outside of that line and interacts with our system. For example, our team and our company is part of the context of our software system.
  • Meter is the tool or process we use to obtain a measure. Once we recognise something we want to measure, figuring out how to measure it can be a bit tricky.

All of these require more elaboration. An interesting question, though, is: what happens if context and system cannot be easily kept separate? When they interact a lot? The way in which we develop software, our process, is strongly influenced by us, the people who enact it. And vice versa.

Tags: Metrics