# Measurement and Metrics Fundamentals. SE 350 Software Process & Product Quality

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1 Measurement and Metrics Fundamentals

2 Lecture Objectives Provide some basic concepts of metrics Quality attribute metrics and measurements Reliability, validity, error Correlation and causation Discuss process variation and process effectiveness Introduce a method for identifying metrics for quality goals Goal-Question-Metric approach

3 Context: Define Measures and Metrics that are Indicators of Quality Quality attribute Definition: Identify data for quality assessment and improvement Operational definition, metrics Measurements Data analysis and interpretation Data collection Execution: Measure, analyze, and improve quality

4 Software Quality Metrics IEEE-STD (R2004) Standard for Software Quality Metrics Methodology

5 A Metric Provides Insight on Quality A measure is a way to ascertain or appraise value by comparing it to a norm [2] A metric is a quantitative measure of the degree to which a system, component, or process possesses a given attribute [1] Software quality metric: A function whose inputs are software data and whose output is a single numerical value that can be interpreted as the degree to which software possesses a given attribute that affects its quality [2] An indicator is a metric or combination of metrics that provide insight into a process, a project, or the product itself [1] IEEE-STD Glossary of Software Engineering Terminology [2] IEEE-STD Standard for Software Quality Metrics Methodology

6 Measurements vs. Metrics A measurement just provides information Example: Number of defects found during inspection: 12 A metric is often derived from one or more measurements or metrics, and provides an assessment (an indicator) of some property of interest: It must facilitate comparisons It must be meaningful across contexts, that is, it has some degree of context independence Example: Rate of finding defects during the inspection = 8 / hour Example: Defect density of the software inspected = 0.2 defects/kloc Example: Inspection effort per defect found = 0.83 hours

7 Operational Definition Concept Concept is what we want to measure, for example, cycletime Definition We need a definition for this: elapsed time to do the task Operational Definition Measurements The operational definition spells out the procedural details of how exactly the measurement is done Cycletime is the calendar time between the date when the project initiation document is approved to the date of full market release of the product

8 Operational Definition Example One operational definition of development cycletime is: The cycletime clock starts when effort is first put into project requirements activities (still somewhat vague) The cycletime clock ends on the date of release If development is suspended due to activities beyond a local organization s control, the cycletime clock will be stopped, and restarted again when development resumes This is decided by the project manager Separate development cycle time from project cycletime which has no clock stoppage and beginning at first customer contact The operational definition addresses various issues related to gathering the data, so that data gathering is more consistent

9 Nominal scale: categorization Measurement Scales Different categories, not better or worse Example: Type of risk: business, technical, requirements, etc. Ordinal scale: Categories with ordering Example: CMM maturity levels, defect severity Sometimes averages quoted, but only marginally meaningful Interval scale: Numeric, but relative scale Example: GPAs. Differences more meaningful than ratios 2 is not to be interpreted as twice as much as 1 Ratio scale: Numeric scale with absolute zero Ratios are meaningful and can be compared Increasing information content and analysis tools

10 Using Basic Measures See Kan text for good discussion on this material Ratios are useful to compare magnitudes Proportions (fractions, decimals, percentages) are useful when discussing parts of a whole Such as a pie chart When number of cases is small, percentages are often less meaningful Actual numbers may carry more information Because percentages can shift so dramatically with single instances (high impact of randomness) When using rates, better if denominator is relevant to opportunity of occurrence of event Requirements changes per month, or per project, or per page of requirements more meaningful than per staff member

11 Reliability & Validity Reliability is whether measurements are consistent when performed repeatedly Example: Will process maturity assessments produce the same outcomes when performed by different people? Example: If we measure repeatedly the reliability of a product, will we get consistent numbers? Validity is the extent to which the measurement actually measures what we intend to measure Construct validity: Match between operational definition and the objective Content validity: Does it cover all aspects? (Do we need more measurements?) Predictive validity: How well does the measurement serve to predict whether the objective will be met?

12 Reliable but not valid Valid but not reliable Valid and reliable Figure 3.4, pp. 72 of Kan textbook Reliable: consistent measurements when using the same measurement method on the same subject Valid: Whether the metric or measurement really measures or gives insight on the concept or quality attribute that you want to understand

13 Reliability vs. Validity Rigorous operational definitions of how the measurement will be collected can improve reliability, but worsen validity Example: When does the cycletime clock start? If we allow too much flexibility in data gathering, the results may be more valid, but less reliable Too much dependency on who is gathering the data Good measurement systems design often needs a balance between reliability & validity A common error is to focus on what can be gathered reliably ( observable & measurable ), and lose out on validity We can t measure this, so I will ignore it, followed by The numbers say this, hence it must be true Example: SAT scores for college admissions decisions Measure what is necessary, not what is easy

14 Systematic & Random Error Gaps in reliability lead to random error Variation between true value and measured value Gaps in validity may lead to systematic error Biases that lead to consistent underestimation or overestimation Example: Cycletime clock stops on release date rather than when customer completes acceptance testing From a mathematical perspective: We want to minimize the sum of the two error terms, for single measurements to be meaningful Trend information is better if random error is less When we use averages of multiple measurements (such as organizational data), systematic error is more worrisome Broader measurement scope Broader impact of error

15 Assessing Reliability Can relatively easily check if measurements are highly subject to random variation: Split sample into halves and see if results match Re-test and see if results match We can figure out how reliable our results are, and factor that into metrics interpretation Can also be used numerically to get better statistical pictures of the data Example: Kan text describes how the reliability measure can be used to correct for attenuation in correlation coefficients (p )

16 Correlation Checking for relationships between two variables: Example: Does defect density increase with product size? Plot one against the other and see if there is a pattern Statistical techniques to compute correlation coefficients: Most of the time, we only look for linear relationships Text explains the possibility of non-linear relationships, and shows how the curves and data might look Common major error: Assuming correlation implies causality (A changes as B changes, hence A causes B) Example: Defect density increases as product size increases Writing more code increases the chance of coding errors!

17 Criteria for Causality Observation indicates correlation Cause precedes effect in time or logical dependence The cause is not spurious Not so easy to figure out! (See diagrams in text p. 81) Maybe common cause for both Example: Code size and defects are a result of problem complexity Maybe there is an intermediate variable Size number of dependencies defect rate Why is this important? Because it affects quality management approach For example, we may focus on dependency reduction Maybe both are indicators of something else: Example: developer competence (less competent: more size, defects)

18 Measuring Process Effectiveness A major concern in process theory (particularly in manufacturing) is reducing process variation If you are doing the same thing, then do it the same way Monitor the output to make sure that the process is in control It is about improving process effectiveness so that the process consistently delivers non-defective results Process effectiveness is measured as sigma level

19 The Normal Curve Sigma level is the area under the curve between the limits Percentage of situations that are within tolerable limits

20 Six Sigma Given tolerance limits (the definition of what is defective), if we want +/- 6 to fit within the limits, the curve must become very narrow: We must reduce process variation so that the outcomes are highly consistent Area within +/- 6 is % ~2 defects per billion This assumes a normal curve. But actual curve is often a shifted curve, for which it is a bit different The Motorola (and generally accepted) definition is 3.4 defects per million operations

21 Why So Stringent? Because manufacturing involves thousands of process steps, and output quality is dependent on getting every single one of them right: Need very high reliability at each step to get reasonable probability of end-to-end correctness At 6 sigma, product defect rate is ~10% with ~1200 process steps Concept came originally from chip manufacturing Software has sort of the same characteristics: To function correctly, each line has to be correct A common translation is 3.4 defects per million lines of code

22 Six Sigma Focus Six sigma is NOT actually about achieving the numbers, but about: A systematic quality management approach Studying processes and identifying opportunities for defect elimination Defect prevention approaches Measuring output quality and improving it constantly

23 Comments on Process Variation Note that reducing process variation is a factory view of engineering development Need to be careful about applying it to engineering processes Each software product may vary, but be consistent in the engineering processes Most applicable for activities performed repeatedly, such as, writing code, running tests, creating releases, etc. Less applicable for activities that are different every time, such as, innovation, learning a domain, architecting a system Many creative activities do have a repetitive component Partly amenable to systematic defect elimination such as in design Simple criterion: Are there defects that can be eliminated by systematic process improvement? Reducing variation eliminates some kinds of defects Defect elimination is a two-outcome model ignores excellence

24 GQM Approach for Defining and Using Metrics The following is based on Goal-Question-Metric Software Acquisition Gold Practice at the DACS Gold Practices Web Site (

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26 Six Steps of GQM Steps 1-3: Definition Use business goals to drive identification of the right metrics Steps 4-6: Data Collection and Interpretation Gather the measurement data and make effective use of the measurement results to drive decision making and improvements

27 Six Steps of GQM Steps 1-3: Definition Use business goals to drive identification of the right metrics 1. Develop a set of corporate, division and project business goals and associated measurement goals for productivity and quality 2. Generate questions (based on models) that define those goals as completely as possible in a quantifiable way 3. Specify the measures needed to be collected to answer those questions and track process and product conformance to the goals

28 Six Steps of GQM Steps 4-6: Data Collection and Interpretation Gather the measurement data and make effective use of the measurement results to drive decision making and improvements 4. Develop mechanisms for data collection 5. Collect, validate and analyze the data in real time to provide feedback to projects for corrective action 6. Analyze the data in a postmortem fashion to assess conformance to the goals and to make recommendations for future improvements

29

30 Goals identify what we want to accomplish; questions, when answered, tell us whether we are meeting the goals or help us understand how to interpret them; and the metrics identify the measurements that are needed to answer the questions and quantify the goal 30

31 Example (CR: Change Request)

32 Defining Goals PPE Template Purpose: Analyze some (objects: processes, products, other experience models) for the purpose of (why: characterization, evaluation, prediction, motivation, improvement) Perspective: with respect to (what aspect: cost, correctness, defect removal, changes, reliability, user friendliness, etc.) from the point of view of (who: user, customer, manager, developer, corporation, etc.) Environment: in the following context: (where: problem factors, people factors, resource factors, process factors, etc.) IEEE-STD Standard for Software Quality Metrics Methodology

33 Goal Example Analyze the (system testing method) for the purpose of (evaluation) with respect to a model of (defect removal effectiveness) from the point of view of the (developer) in the following context: the standard NASA/GSFC environment, i.e., process model [e.g., Software Engineering Laboratory (SEL) version of the waterfall model], application (ground support software for satellites), machine (running on a DEC 780 under VMS), etc. IEEE-STD Standard for Software Quality Metrics Methodology

34 Key Practices of GQM (p. 1 of 3) Get the right people involved in the GQM process Set explicit measurement goals and state them explicitly Don t create false measurement goals (for example, matching metrics you already have or are easy to get) Acquire implicit quality models from the people involved

35 Key Practices of GQM (p. 2 of 3) Consider context Derive appropriate metrics Stay focused on goals when analyzing data Let the data be interpreted by the people involved Integrate the measurement activities with regular project activities

36 Key Practices of GQM (p. 3 of 3) Do not use measurements for other purposes (such as to assess team member productivity) Secure management commitment to support measurement results Establish an infrastructure to support the measurement program Ensure that measurement is viewed as a tool, not the end goal Get training in GQM before going forward

37 Conclusions Measurement starts with an operational definition of some quality attribute of interest We need to put some effort into choosing appropriate measures and scales, and understanding their limitations Measurements have both systematic and random error Measurements must have both reliability and validity Often, hard to achieve both A common error is confusing correlation with causation A major concern in process design is reducing process variation: Six sigma is actually more about eliminating and identifying defects, and identifying opportunities for process improvement Defects are NOT the sole concern in process design! There are other quality attributes than defects and failures Process optimization is oriented primarily towards repetitive activities GQM provides a method for identifying metrics from quality goals

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