Given a particular high-level productivity goal, a common desire is to derive specific metrics that track such a goal. Unfortunately, going from goals to metrics is not trivial as metrics are typically proxies for specific aspects of a goal. One technique to bridge this divide is to have an intermediate state under consideration. For example, the goal-question-metric (GQM) approach for understanding and measuring the software process [1, 2] works by first generating “questions” that define goals and then specifying measures that could answer those questions. GQM suggests a systematic approach to do the following:
Conceptualize goals aimed at understanding or improving software engineering tools and processes
Specify research questions to operationalize those goals
Define metrics for understanding or measuring tools and processes
Similar to GQM, the HEART framework is used for measuring usability in design projects . HEART first decomposes a high-level usability goal (such as “my app is awesome”) into subgoals, abstract “signals” that could measure those subgoals (e.g., time spent with app), and specific metrics for those signals (e.g., number of shares or number of articles read in app). In addition to this goals-signals-metrics breakdown, the HEART framework splits usability into five dimensions: happiness, engagement, adoption, retention, and task success.
Inspired by the way that the HEART framework involves both splitting by dimensions and breaking down from goals to metrics, we propose splitting into goals, questions, and metrics in combination with the productivity dimensions and lenses. This technique can guide the development of specific questions and metrics toward the concrete productivity goals identified. Such goals include measuring the impact of an intervention, identifying anti-patterns or problem spots causing productivity losses, comparing groups, or understanding productivity for a particular context. To illustrate how the framework may be used, we sketch two hypothetical examples in the following sections.
Example 1: Improving Productivity Through an Intervention
A manager of a software development team (the stakeholder) in a large software company (the context) would like to improve productivity through the introduction of a new continuous integration system (the stakeholder’s productivity goal). She hopes that productivity will be improved for both individual developers and the team overall (the levels) and intends to measure the change over the time frame of a few months (the time period).
A set of specific questions about productivity improvements arises from considering the productivity goal through the identified lenses along each dimension. Since these questions are specific, it is possible to identify a set of metrics that may help to answer them, as shown in Table 5-1. Note that productivity metrics are always proxies for what you really want to measure, and there is a many-to-one relationship between metrics and a specific question, as well as between a set of specific questions and one or more productivity goals.
Productivity Goal 1: Improve Productivity at the Individual and Team Levels Through the Introduction of a New Continuous Integration System
Example 2: Understanding How Meetings Impact Productivity
For this example, we consider a situation where the stakeholder wants to understand rather than try to improve productivity (although improving it may be a longer-term goal). The scenario we present here is the case where developers (the stakeholders) working in a team that also collaborates with other teams at their large company (the context) would like to understand how meetings impact productivity (the goal). Here the developers are more interested in an exploratory approach to understanding the impact of meetings on productivity. The dimensions and the lenses help form research questions, as shown in Table 5-2. In this example, even though no metrics have been defined, research questions can help sharpen an exploratory analysis by making it more concrete. Since the needs and goals of individual developers might conflict with those of the team and/or organization an exploratory analysis can help clarify such conflicts and form a basis for later change. Note that in the table we show only a sample of possible relevant questions along each dimension.
Productivity Goal 2: Develop an Understanding of How Meetings May Impact Productivity