In the business world, many things are an exact science. Then again, many things are more art than science, and that is where quality assurance becomes sticky. Nevertheless, aiming to identify something—anything—that can be measured, no matter how crudely, adds value. It gives you a metric to track over time. If something is important, then you should be measuring it. Tracking something is better than tracking nothing.
These concepts become quite interesting in looking at our nation’s security at the southern border. Our border agents have identified some interesting metrics to track. (Pun intended? You’ll see!). Amanda J. Crawford and Eric Martin describe the process (“Border Security, One Footprint at a Time” Bloomberg Businessweek, 5/6/13–5/12/13, pp. 29–30):
“[Agents] stalk through mountainous wilderness on foot and horseback. They also search for footprints. The agents try to identify if the shoes that formed the prints are sneakers, work boots, or other footwear; the objective is to match them with shoes worn by people caught crossing the border illegally. (The agents regularly sweep the desert floor clean so they can spot fresh tracks.) The footprints that don’t match up, along with other evidence of crossers they spot but don’t catch, are counted as ‘gotaways.’ Agents compare the number of gotaways to the number turned back or detained; the result is a percentage used to gauge the security of the border.” (p. 29)
I have to give them credit for their resourceful creativity! Those “gotaways” certainly tell the QA story.