“The Goal/Question/Metric Method”

by Rini van Solingen & Egon Berghout

Price £33.50 (UK)

Hardback Format

reviewed by Grant Rule

“The original ideas for the Goal Question Metric Paradigm came from the need to solve a practical problem back in the late 1970’s. How do you decide what you need to measure in order to achieve your goals? …[Is] there a pattern to the changes? If we understood them could we anticipate them and possibly improve the development processes to deal with them?”

So begins Vic Basili in a foreword in which the originator of the GQM concept thoroughly endorses the practical approach presented by the authors of this new book, just published by McGraw-Hill in April.

He goes on to say, “In this book, [the authors] provide the reader with an incredible synthesis of the GQM concepts, packaged with the support necessary for building an effective measurement program. It provides more than the GQM, but describes it in the philosophy of the Quality Improvement Paradigm and the Experience Factory Organization. …They have captured the best ideas and offer them in a straight-forward manner.”

I wish all the software engineering books I get to see warranted such a well-deserved testimonial. This one does and I wholeheartedly agree. The book is well organised and based on real experience in an industrial environment. Not only is the theory well explained but details of four case studies are given to demonstrate how the ideas can be applied. These cases are not contrived, academic exercises but are expositions of real problems and the approach taken to investigate and resolve them. In addition, the full details of the costs of establishing a GQM programme are explained.

From the outset, the authors place GQM very definitely in the context of software quality improvement and draw the links between the technique and well known improvement models such as the CMM, ISO9001, TickIT, etc. The first part of the book introduces the theory and looks at the motives to apply GQM measurement. In the second part, the GQM method is presented as a stepwise procedure, with descriptions of a phased approach and guidance to apply GQM in practice. The case studies, from programs conducted at Schlumberger Retail Petrol Systems, are presented in a third part. Importantly, these studies report real numbers, eschewing the ‘Oh so common’ reticence of many authors.

A guide aimed at practitioners, this book contains many examples, checklists and document templates which the reader can use in their own programme.

My one quibble, and honestly a minor one, is that the authors would have done well to have had the text edited by a native English speaker. From The Netherlands, both Rini and Egon speak excellent English, putting many native speakers to shame. Never-the-less, a few grammatical faux pas have crept past the proof readers, making for a few odd sentences.

Whatever your involvement with process improvement and software measurement, whether as a manager or practitioner, this book is an absolute “must have”. Highly recommended.


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This page was updated on Thursday, 13 January 2000