Supplementing Project Metrics with Quality Metrics


Why would IBM Rational, a leader in tools for improving software delivery, work hard to integrate the CAST Application Intelligence Adapter into IBM Rational Insight?

Because CAST's quality metrics are a unique and vital addition to IBM Insight.

Quality metrics are vital to delivering a product that will live up to the benefits articulated in the business case.

Fulfilling the business case depends on on-time, on-budget, on-functionality delivery. But it also depends on one other critical element dependability.

Functionality is nothing if it works unpredictably, is slow, or breaks down often. Think of functionality as the tool; if the tool is dependable, I can use the tool as it is intended to be used. If my hammer head flies off the handle every time I try to pound a nail, it's of no use to me. I need to spend money fixing it. I'm held up. I lose revenue.

Functionality is what it's supposed to do; dependability is how well it does what it's supposed to do.

Quality metrics focus on the product not the process. There's no question that a hammer is what the requirements called for. But the hammer is no use if it's not dependable. Product quality measures dependability. It is the tangible indicator of dependability just as an object's color is a tangible indicator of the molecular structure of its surface.

Dependability is the reciprocal of the risk of revenue loss due to software that doesn't do what it's supposed to do. Increase dependability and you decrease business disruption risk. Conversely, decrease dependability, increase business disruption risk.

Without dependability you can kiss your business case goodbye! Business cases can fail for two reasons. Either the functionality doesn't satisfy the business need, or the functionality is there but not working like it should be. It's easy to forget that business value doesn't come from just having the functionality in place - business value is generated by the functionality working like it should. When it's not working properly, you cannot achieve the benefits articulated in the business case.

Once functionality is in place, business benefits are generated via a simple formula:

Business Benefits = Transaction Rate (number of transactions per unit time) * Transaction Value ($ per transaction)

The business benefits generated by the application can increase in at most three ways:

  1. the number of transactions increase
  2. the time it takes to complete each transaction decreases
  3. the value of each transaction increases

Dependability is critical for each of the above. Every car that lines up on the NASCAR starting grid has the functionality to win the race. But it can't win if the functionality cannot perform as it should.

Measuring quality only partially or not at all during the development cycle means you're rolling the dice on generating business benefits post release. This danger is exacerbated because many of the practices we adopt to improve on-time, on-budget, and on-functionality delivery significantly decrease dependability!

When product quality is hidden you don't know how the operational choices you're making are really affecting cost (present and future) and business benefits. With CAST's quality metrics, it's out in the open. Having these product metrics alongside the process metrics enables you to cut the right corners and not cut the wrong ones. You don't have to roll the dice. With CAST you can measure quality and build dependability in right from the start of the life cycle.

To build dependable software you need more than just the process metrics of on-time and on budget. You need more than just on-functionality metrics. You need product quality metrics. With the CAST Application Intelligence Adapter for Rational Insight, IBM gets the product quality metrics they need to fulfill both operational and business goals.

Filed in: Technical Debt
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