Mike’s Dump

July 29, 2006

Code Metrics and the Decor Consultant

Filed under: Code,Home — mikesdump @ 5:15 am

We have been discussing incorporating a few different code metrics in our build process at work. I am personally interested in three different values: The number of lines of code in the project, number of unit tests written (using NUnit), and percentage of code covered by unit tests using NCover.

Unit testing is new to several developers at our shop and tracking these numbers main purpose is to keep the conversation on unit testing going. Reviewing these stats regularly provides an opportunity to talk about challenges found during unit testing or maybe newly tried techniques that make unit testing easier. The key to these stats is they are in no way tied to a developer’s compensation.

Why not tie metrics to compensation?

If you were told that you would be paid one dollar for every unit test you wrote and there was no criteria on what the test needed to do how many tests would you write? I know I would game the system. I would write my unit test generator, generate five million unit tests, collect my check and retire by noon.

The D�cor Consultant

We have been looking high and low for a bedroom set and finally found something we liked at Sears. The set we liked was a little pricey but our “D�cor Consultant” said she would be able to adjust our bill a week later because this particular set was going on sale. Also it happened to be scratch and save day when she would adjust the price so she would throw that discount in there too. I thought that was nice.

Delivery Day

Our bedroom set was supposed to show up sometime between 8 am and 5 pm (don’t you love how specific that is). We get a phone call first thing in the morning that everything is in the shipment except the footboard. The person on the phone was very friendly and apologetic so I thought crap happens and brushed it off.

When the delivery guy shows up he asks if we received a call about the footboard not being with the shipment and apologized again for the inconvenience. When he was taking the dresser out of the packaging he checked it over and noticed it was damaged. He brought it to our attention right away and said we could ask for a discount or get a new one ordered. Sandy and I both wanted a new one. He said in the mean time we could use this one if we would like. We thought that would be nice because we didn’t know how long it would take to get the new one and I was getting tired of living out of boxes.

Back to the “D�cor Consultant”

Sandy calls up the sales person and explains the situation. She tells Sandy to phone and track down where our footboard is. When discussing the broken dresser she argues with Sandy because they want to try to get someone out in the next week or so to try to repair the broken dresser (we refused). Finally she agreed to order us a new dresser but it would have to be charged to our credit card until the broken dresser could be picked up.

Price Adjustment Day

I get a phone call this morning I find out the footboard and dresser will be coming on two separate days next week (at least the footboard is coming first). I had to ask about the price adjustment. The price didn’t sound right to me so I checked with Sandy after the call and found out it was off by about 300 dollars.
Sandy phones back and the “D�cor Consultant” and she looked at the prices again and realized her mistake. She says to Sandy:

“Well, I’m going to have to take this to the backroom and try to figure it all out. This takes me off the floor for a long time and the only way I make money is when I’m selling”

It appears this “D�cor Consultant” has figured out how to game the system. After she has our money there really is no value to her providing us service even when she makes a mistake (Sandy called her manager and the manager apologized for the comment).

My Point

It doesn’t matter if you are tracking the number of unit tests written or amount of sales for a sales person, as soon as you tie your metrics to compensation they will become useless.

Oh ya, and avoid the “D�cor Consultants” at Sears.

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