What is a GQM?
Goal-Question-Metrics (GQMs) is a strategic framework used to define goals, ask relevant questions, and improve metrics.
The GQM framework was originally created while evaluating project defects in NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Forty years later, GQMs continue to serve as a valuable tool to set comprehensive goals and monitor progress.
GQMs are often compared to OKRs. To make sure we’re speaking the same language, let’s level set on the definition of OKRs:
- OKRs: a management strategy for setting business objectives and measurable outcomes. It relies on set, tracked, and re-evaluated goals paired with measurable results.
An OKR has an objective to achieve and key results that measure progress. An OKR’s objective is the equivalent of a GQM’s goal. In addition to a goal, GQMs encourage teams to ask meaningful, thought-provoking questions. If you’re lucky enough and ask the right questions, you may be able to address several metrics at once.
How do you use GQMs effectively?
- Define specific goals: Set specific and achievable goals in alignment with your product strategy.
- Formulate key questions: Break down each goal into actionable questions. The questions should address critical aspects related to achieving the goal and guide your team towards a deeper understanding of what needs to be accomplished.
- Establish metrics. Identify measurable metrics that correlate with each question. These metrics will give your team a quantifiable way to track progress and give insight into areas for improvement. From there, regularly monitor and iterate on these metrics and adapt strategies accordingly.
Let’s consider an example of a software company looking to improve user engagement and apply Goal-Question-Metrics.
Goal: Increase user engagement by 20% within the next quarter.
- What features currently have the highest user engagement? Lowest user engagement?
- How does user engagement vary across different devices?
- How does the responsiveness of the customer support team impact user engagement?
- What is the impact of social media presence on user engagement?
- New feature adoption rates
- Time spent in-app
- User engagement metrics (mobile vs. desktop)
- Customer support response time
- Conversion rates from social media marketing campaigns
In utilizing the GQM framework, this company asks critical questions and takes an informed approach to accomplishing their goals.
How do GQMs apply to product teams?
The Goal-Question-Metrics framework empowers product managers to clarify purpose, align their team, and track progress with measurable metrics. By using a holistic approach, GQMs consider more questions and generate a roadmap as opposed to a short-term approach.