Monday, October 9, 2017

Customer Quality Dashboard: #PNSQC Live Blog

OK, the late night flight arrival into Portland and the early morning registration is catching up to me. I will confess that I'm hunting down Diet Coke and alertness aids of the non-coffee or tea types. If I seem a little hazy or less coherent, well, now you will know why ;).

In any event, it's time for John Ruberto's "How to Create a Customer Quality Dashboard" and he started with a story about losing weight, and a low-fat diet that he was on for awhile. The goal was to get less than 20% of his calories from fat. He soon realized that having a couple of beers and eating pretzels helped make sure that the fat calories consumed were less than 20%. Effective? Well, yes. Accurate. In a way, yes. Helpful? Not really, since the total calories consumed went well above those needed for weight loss, but the fat calories were under 20% all the time ;).

This story helps illustrate that we can measure stuff all day long, but if we aren't measuring the right things in context, we can be 100% successful in reaching our goals and still fail in our overall objective.

To create a usable and effective dashboard, we need to be able to set goals that are actually in alignment with the wider organization, focusing on what's most important to stakeholders, providing a line of sight from metrics to goals, and build a more comprehensive view of our goals.

Let's put this into the perspective of what might be reported to us from our customers. What metrics might we want to look at? What does the metric tell us about our product? What does the metric not tell us about our product?

Some things we might want to consider:

Process metrics vs Outcomes: Think vines of code per review hour vs. defects found per review.
Leading Indicators vs. Lagging Indicators: Think code coverage vs. delivered quality.
Median vs. Average: Median page load vs. average page load. Average can skew numbers
Direct Measures vs Derived Measures: Total crashes vs reported crash codes

There are a lot of potential issues that can cause us problems over time. One is gaming the system, where we set up metrics that we can easily achieve or otherwise configure in a way that is not necessarily supported in reality. See the example of the fat percentages. We could adjust our total intake so our fat calories were below 20%,

Confirmation Bias: is a preconceived notion of what things should be, and therefore we see or support results that help us see that reality. 

Survivor Bias: The act of seeing the surviving instances of an aspect or issue as though it's the whole of the group.         

Vanity Metrics: Measuring things that are easily manipulated.


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