Improving the Efficiency of Your Metrics: An Interview with Mike Trites


In this interview, Mike Trites, a senior test consultant, talks about his upcoming presentation at STAREAST 2014, the future of metrics, the importance of improving the efficiency of your metrics, and even an interesting take on the old phrase that numbers never lie.

Mike Trites will be presenting a presentation titled "Making Numbers Count: Metrics That Matter" at STAREAST 2014, which will take place May 4–9, 2014.


About "Making Numbers Count: Metrics That Matter":
As testers and test managers, we are frequently asked to report on the progress and results of our testing. The question “How is testing going?” may seem simple enough, but our answer is ultimately based on our ability to extract useful metrics from our work and present them in a meaningful way. This is particularly important in agile environments, where clear, concise, and up-to-date metrics are potentially needed multiple times per day. Mike Trites identifies a number of ways metrics can be used to measure progress during a test cycle and, ultimately, to determine when to consider testing complete. Learn the common pitfalls that metrics misuse can lead to and how you can avoid them by giving proper context when communicating metrics to your stakeholders. Take back key metrics for measuring the effectiveness of your testing and discover how to use what is learned on one project to improve your testing process on future projects.


Cameron Philipp-Edmonds: Today we have Mike Trites, who will be speaking at STAREAST 2014, which is May 4 through May 9. He is giving a presentation titled "Making Numbers Count: Metrics That Matter." He is the senior test consultant with Professional Quality Assurance Ltd. Mike Trites has nearly a decade of experience in the software testing industry and holds multiple certifications, including an advanced-level testing manager certification from the ISTQB. As a consultant, Mike has worked with clients both small and large in a wide range of environments. He has helped deliver projects from web applications and database management software to financial software and video lottery systems.

As a test manager, Mike has managed all aspects of the testing lifecycle and works with clients to help define, implement, and improve the internal testing processes. Did we catch everything?

Mike Trites: Yes. Sounds about right.

Cameron: Because you're doing a session titled "Making Numbers Count: Metrics That Matter," I'd like to ask you a couple of questions about the value of metrics and knowing how to make the most of metrics that you have. First question, and it's a broad one, is why are metrics really all that important?

Mike: The thing about metrics is they help us answer a lot of the questions that people often ask, like how long is this going to take, how are we progressing, are we on track, and where are the problem areas? They allow us to deliver the information stakeholders are looking for in order to make the important decisions that they need to make. Furthermore, stakeholders are looking for this information regardless of whether or not we plan to capture it. It's helpful to have the information ready to have the ability to deliver it in a clear and consistent manner. Metrics are also important for process improvement. They allow us to identify any deficiencies or simply areas for improvement and address those on the fly or from one project to the next. Of course, we can measure the results of those adjustments and then continue to improve further.

Cameron: Why are metrics even more important to agile environments?

Mike: It's funny. I think that actually most people would argue that metrics aren't important at all in agile environments, but I think there's still a place for them. After all, stakeholders need information about the status and progress of testing regardless of which methodology is being employed. I think what's more important in agile environment is the timely delivery of any metrics that are being reported on. Things happen really quickly in agile environments, and that's why the process and documentation is so much more lightweight compared to other methodologies, but despite this, I think we can get some benefit out of metrics. With the right tools, we can easily make metrics available to stakeholders without much overhead.

Cameron: You mentioned some common metric misuses in your presentation. Can you give us an example of one?

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