Linked by snydeq on Thu 17th Nov 2011 22:47 UTC
General Development Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister discusses why code analysis and similar metrics provide little insight into what really makes an effective software development team, in the wake of a new scorecard system employed at IBM. "Code metrics are fine if all you care about is raw code production. But what happens to all that code once it's written? Do you just ship it and move on? Hardly - in fact, many developers spend far more of their time maintaining code than adding to it. Do your metrics take into account time spent refactoring or documenting existing code? Is it even possible to devise metrics for these activities?" McAllister writes, "Are developers who take time to train and mentor other teams about the latest code changes considered less productive than ones who stay heads-down at their desks and never reach out to their peers? How about teams that take time at the beginning of a project to coordinate with other teams for code reuse, versus those who charge ahead blindly? Can any automated tool measure these kinds of best practices?"
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RE[2]: Comment by Luminair
by Alfman on Fri 18th Nov 2011 19:34 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Luminair"
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"To his point a bit, I also find that a lot of organizations start to run down the road of 'performance metrics' periodically and it always seems that we start spending more time working on stuff to 'keep track of metrics' instead of the actual work itself."

I had one employer who implemented a system to measure every single minute of work and log what we're doing at all moments. While it's a quasi-reasonable thing to want to have, it's terribly inefficient and invasive in practice. Their system sent out emails informing most of the employees that they didn't put in the required 40 hours, which is insulting given that many of us were there more than 50 hours, obviously we just didn't account for every minute of every day. We complained that often times developers help each other out by talking to one another even when we're not always on the same projects, management responded that the only time we'd be given credit for is what got logged in the time sheet (the system didn't allow us to record time for items which weren't officially assigned to us).

In the end, the system under-emphasizes important results and just encourages abuse: rounding up time, leaving the clock running, etc. I wouldn't be surprised if many developers are fabricating the numbers all together for their time quota.

What ever happened to treating software engineers as professionals?

Edited 2011-11-18 19:46 UTC

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