REVIEW - The Goal/Question/Metric Method - A Practical Guide for Quality Improvement of Software Development


The Goal/Question/Metric Method

A Practical Guide for Quality Improvement of Software Development


Rini van Solingen, Egon Berghout



McGraw-Hill (1999)




Chris Hills


February 2000



This was a rather difficult review to do in that I had to review the book not the method. The GQM method is really very simple and is neatly summed up in a single diagram (that is often repeated through the book). In words it is: Where are you trying to go - Goal. Work out what you want to know to get there - Question. Work out how to measure it - Metric. I was once told all good methods should fit on the back of an envelope!

So what does a book add to the paragraph above? Lots of words and diagrams but I found it all very woolly. Also it is not a software metrics book in the same way as Macabe or Lines Of Code can be used by a programmer. Software is looked at from the point of view of higher management. There is a diagram where Software Quality is surrounded by Business Goals, Process Assessment, Project Goals and Measurement. From what I can see this is a very simple time and motion method. If it is not then the book has failed to make it clear what GQM really is.

Over half of the book, 100 of the 180 pages, is made up of 4 case studies. I found these rather padded. Questions and assignments have been added without answers in an attempt to make the book appeal to lecturers as a course book.

Project managers or above might find this book useful. I found it very difficult to get into and it seemed to be repeating the same thing in several different ways. Many of the things described are probably being done under different names already. For example the break down of how a customer support team spends its time. On the whole this book does not impress me; too much waffle for my taste.

Having written the review above I then looked at on the cover and you will be taken to the author's site). The site has a lot of information including powerpoint slides of the diagrams and templates, answers to all the questions, excerpts from the book and much more. As all of this information, including the answers to the questions, is available it makes the book less useful to lecturers; as students will probably had down loaded all the answers and information before they have even bought the book! (The URL is highlighted on the back cover!) Also on the web site is an order form for the book that gives a 20% discount (from 34.99 to 27.99).

On the whole I am ambivalent about this book. If you think it is for you hit the web site it may contain all you need.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.

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