that a program is trying to achieve. “Proxy measures” are indirect measures used when direct metrics are not possible (cannot be measured) or are unavailable, such as when the direct metric is not timely. For example, cholesterol level is a proxy measure for the risk of heart disease. A proxy measure typically does not encompass all of the important aspects of status or performance, so managers sometimes use multiple proxy measures. Multiple proxies can increase the data collection requirements and only provide marginal capability to assess the achievement of the objective, but they may be all that are available.
The type of measure can be natural or constructed. A natural measure is a metric that has a commonly accepted definition arising from an objective measurement. Temperature and weight are examples of natural scales, as are silos destroyed and chemical destruction facility availability. Natural scales are preferred because people understand them intuitively and are easier to measure. Constructed scales are designed to measure the achievement of an objective. The five star scale used to assess the quality of a product, security classification levels (unclassified, confidential, secret), heat index, and body mass index are all constructed scales. Constructed scales require clear definitions to be operational to assessors and managers.
BOX 3-1 Common Terms Used for Metrics
• Cost effectiveness: Assesses attainment of an objective or task relative to the costs.
• Benefit cost measure: A metric reflecting benefits attained relative to the costs, which may be monetary or other costs.
• Value versus costs – Compares the value aligned with our objectives to the costs.
• Value measure – Align with our objectives, which we value.
• Measure of effectiveness – Assesses achievement of an assigned objective or task.
• Measure of merit – Another term that tells us how we achieve something we care about.
• Outcome measure – Focuses on the ultimate intended or unintended results.
• Performance measure: Describes how well a subsystem, system, or process meets its required performance.
• Output measure – Outputs usually refer to direct results of a process.
• Efficiency measure: A measure of how resources used in a project or program.
• Process measure – Captures some attribute of a process.
• Input measure – Identifies the resources or activities provided prior to a process.
• Resource measure: Identifies the resources (e.g., dollars, people’s time, or materials) used by system or process.
• Leading indicators: Measures that provide early indicators of impact and effectiveness and allow managers to take corrective action on the process if required.
• Lagging indicator: A measure that is available after the current activity allowing corrective action only for future processes and operations.
• Environmental measure: A factor that could have a direct or indirect impact on the system or process but is not under the control of the program or project managers.
• Adversary measures: Assesses the potential or actual actions of adversaries that can have a direct impact on the process or system.
• Threat measures: Assess capabilities and intent of a potential opponent
• Criteria – Factors that differentiate alternatives.
• Attribute – Characteristic of a system or process.
• Metric – A standard of measurement.