Measuring Productivity #1: Defining Productivity


In the past few weeks, too many managers have written to me, asking for help on knowing how “good” their people are. When I ask more questions, such as “What does good mean to you?”, they say they want to know who's most productive. Then I walk through this analysis with them:

Productivity is not about the number of lines of code, the number of tests, the number of defects reported, or the number of requirements defined. Productivity is how long it takes the entire team to create a usable product, and for whom that product is usable.

It usually takes us a few emails to get past that statement. That's because these managers now realize a single-dimension measurement is inadequate for measuring a person's productivity, and that on a project, it's the productivity of the project, not the productivity of a given person that matters.

For you lifecycle/process aficionados, that's why agile projects, staged-delivery, evolutionary delivery lifecycles, and critical chain project management works. Each of those lifecycles or techniques focus on getting work out of the project, not waiting until the entire project is complete.

Tomorrow, I'll deal with the kind of things you can measure.

For those of you who were wondering, the spring cold that started two months ago developed into pneumonia last week. Maybe now I'm at the end of my personal disease season 🙂

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