Sunday, May 19, 2002
Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.How true. Einstein's legacy of genius will live on for ages because he has influenced generations of mathematicians and physicists.
While perhaps not at the same level as Einstein, Robert B. Grady will remain in my memory because of the deep influence his work has had on my thinking. I first discovered Grady in 1992 when I read Practical Software Metrics for Project Management and Process Improvement (see Linda's 22 April 2001 Amazon review). This is Grady's first book and it sets the tone for his later two books discussed below. What makes this book so important is that it is one of the first to integrate software metrics with project management metrics.
What I particularly like about this book includes:
- Complete view of metrics that matter, and the chronicle of how these metrics evolved in a large company (Hewlett-Packard).
- Recognition that any software metrics initiative extends beyond the project that delivers the software - Grady examines post-production metrics and ties them back to not only the development life cycle, but the product life cycle as well. Ten years after this book was published there are still large organizations that are struggling with doing this, yet Grady's book provides a clear roadmap to achieving this elusive goal.
- Continuous improvement is the central theme in this book. Grady does not stop with collecting and analyzing metrics, but how to effectively employ them to spot improvement opportunities and develop a strategy to effect those improvements.
Among all of Grady's books I like this one the best; however, I recommend that his other two also be carefully read if software process improvement is your goal. He has much to say and backs it up with data and a chronicle of his experiences from real projects.
Five years later Grady wrote Successful Software Process Improvement, which followed-up on the foundation he laid in the first book by showing how his metrics-based approach can be leveraged into a viable process improvement program. This book uses the TQM Plan-Do-Check-Act framework as the basis for process improvement. However, he goes deep into the issues and factors to give a complete approach to developing and managing a continuous improvement posture.
Highlights of this book include:
- The same story telling approach he successfully used in his first book. The conversational writing style and the logical sequence of the book makes it easy to read. Moreover, the real life examples add credibility and make the content practical instead of merely blue sky theory.
- A complete survey of assessment methods, such as the CMM, Software Productivity Research's Software Quality and Productivity Assessment, and Hewlett-Packard's internal QUality Maturity System. The latter two are especially interesting because they are, in essence, balanced scorecards.
- Business-oriented - the approach taken never strays from cost/benefit and ROI.
In also like the wealth of metrics, data and examples. While this book is longer than his first one, it's still a manageable 314 pages and is highly readable. If you are involved with software process improvement initiatives this book should be on your short list.
His last book, Software Metrics: Establishing a Company-wide Program, is about how to establish a viable metrics program. See my 28 November 2000 review on Amazon for details.
There is one other book that has deeply influenced me, Software Excellence: A Total Quality Management Guide. This book is a collection of papers that were made into a text under the editorial control of Shigeichi Moriguchi. Mr. Moriguchi did a superb job of ensuring both readability and structuring the content in such a manner that it can actually be viewed as three books:
- A textbook on software quality control.
- Catalog of techniques used in testing and SQA.
- Training guide for testers and SQA professionals.
Moving Along. Life is a journey, not a destination. This thread is going to imitate life because in the next entry I'll continue the journey, which will pass into the realm of SQA - a strange place inhabited by many cultures, and whose inhabitants are still trying to figure out who they are.
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