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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obsession with data
by Yamin on Fri 18th Nov 2011 03:01 UTC
Yamin
Member since:
2006-01-10

We have an obsession with making sure all decisions are based on numbers that permeates our culture. It's like we've created a culture of management that cannot make any decision without someelse putting the numbers in front of them... well then what is the point of having management at that point? Just have the computer do the final step and compare the two numbers.

Ultimately, any complex task is going to be impossible to measure via any cheap means or expert opinion. Ultimately, you'll have better luck with peer review, professional programs...

I can't tell you who/what makes the best teacher... but I guarantee I can tell you after speaking to their fellow teachers. Ditto for doctors, nurses, engineers, lawyers ...

This is all thrown off of course if you are basing their performance review or who gets laid off on it ;)

Of course software developers don't have the luxury of some kind of professional association or proper training path (residency, articling, accreditation...)

You'd probably get a decent view of software developers by having a group of known good people (developers, product manager...) do random interviews with teams, review developers, review code, ask questions...

Reply Score: 1

RE: obsession with data
by looncraz on Fri 18th Nov 2011 03:15 in reply to "obsession with data"
looncraz Member since:
2005-07-24

Ultimately, any complex task is going to be impossible to measure via any cheap means or expert opinion. Ultimately, you'll have better luck with peer review, professional programs...

Amen!

I worked at a Fortune 500 company for a while and they forced you to use THEIR internal troubleshooting system regardless of whether or not you already knew how to solve the issue. You were FIRED if you didn't use the system.

I had 100% success rate, 15% troubleshooting guide use rate (they called it something else...), and came highly recommended from my peers and managers while also having received praise from most all clients.

None of that mattered, though... I was still penalized rather heavily on the 'scoreboard' and fell below the 'target performance' metric. I worked there a total of three weeks - I have the luxury of no mouths to feed but my own, I have no intentions of placating idiots with big fancy pieces of paper from big fancy buildings when I know more than they'll ever know...

[ Yes, I was fired ;-) - first time for everything! ]

--The loon

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: obsession with data
by Slambert666 on Fri 18th Nov 2011 08:05 in reply to "RE: obsession with data"
Slambert666 Member since:
2008-10-30

Probably not fired for "not using the system" but probably for being difficult to manage (as in making the managers job difficult).
Many companies tends to frown upon that, just so you know....

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: obsession with data
by Alfman on Fri 18th Nov 2011 18:57 in reply to "RE: obsession with data"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

looncraz,

Yep, instead of recognizing your good work, some bean counter had to justify their job by firing you even if it hurt the origination as a whole.

I too have been fired, but it was for the incompetence of another full time developer who found it beneficial to point the finger at me as a scape goat to the management. They paid me less than half of what they owed. That small company is no longer in existence.

I agree with Yamin that developers can usually recognize each other's strengths and weaknesses, but we also live in a time when politics are needed to get ahead and stepping on each other is often better rewarded than hard work. I don't think there is any possible combination of metrics that would fix this.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: obsession with data
by voidlogic on Fri 18th Nov 2011 03:25 in reply to "obsession with data"
voidlogic Member since:
2005-09-03

"Of course software developers don't have the luxury of some kind of professional association or proper training path (residency, articling, accreditation...)"

I am not saying these things could not use improvement, but its not as if they do not exist at all...

professional association... What about the ACM or IEEE ?

proper training path (residency, articling, accreditation...)... What about a B.S. in CS, Masters of CS, Masters of Software Engineering, MCAD/MCSD, Sun Certified Professional (SCP)?

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: obsession with data
by Yamin on Fri 18th Nov 2011 21:16 in reply to "RE: obsession with data"
Yamin Member since:
2006-01-10

Those aren't proper training paths because:

1. They are not mandatory. So you will never end up with a professional culture as it can always be undercut by untrained people just good enough to appear to do the immediate job.
2. They do no include a significant on the job mentorship component. It is not just 'can you write code'. But can you communicate, handle clients, ethics, behave yourself as a professional... formal passing on of real life practice and methods built into the profession

If anything the formal residency style mentorship is significantly more important than any educational credential.

Reply Parent Score: 2