To manage software systems, we first need to understand them and assess their quality. However, software systems are large and complex, and documentation is often not reliable. To handle this situation we need assessment techniques and tools that provide an accurate overview.
Metrics are such tools, and in this talk, we provide an overview of their role in the assessment process: we talk about the goal-question-metrics paradigm, we list examples of various ways in which we can measure external and internal quality aspects, and we describe the use of metrics in quality models.
At the end, we step back, we talk about the pitfalls that accompany metrics and argue about how the process of assessment can and must go beyond metrics.