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1.2 Measurement as an Organizational Discriminator

The current software business environment is characterized by rapidly changing technology within an extremely competitive market. In both the shrink-wrapped and unique-application software marketplace, customers demand more functionality at a lower price and rapid implementation of any new capability to satisfy their changing business demands. In today's environment, it is becoming increasingly difficult to establish a software organization as an information technology market leader and even more difficult to maintain it as a top-performing organization—an organization that performs better than its competitors from both technical and business perspectives.

Experience has shown that almost every top-performing organization can be described as follows:

  • Accurate, objective information is available to all decision makers, and its use is an integral part of the corporate culture.

  • Past, present, and future business and technical perspectives are taken into account to help define project objectives and performance expectations.

  • Organizational processes and procedures are designed to identify, characterize, and manage change. Dealing with change is part of how the organization does business.

  • Both good and bad news are freely communicated within the organization. Issues are openly identified and addressed.

  • There is a cultural bias for informed decision making and taking action.

These characteristics are all information-related and, therefore, measurement-related. To be a top performer in its market sector, an organization needs the right kind of information, on a regular basis, to make the right decisions. It uses information to become more efficient and to produce better-quality products. Measurement facilitates and accelerates organizational learning and supports corporate adaptation within the marketplace. Measurement provides a structure for learning from each project, whether or not it was a good experience. Measurement also helps an organization understand the gaps between how it is performing and the performance levels demanded by the marketplace. It allows an organization to optimize within its business and technical constraints. In effect, measurement information becomes a competitive resource, and an effective measurement process becomes an organizational discriminator.

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