As a matter of fact, there are different ways of measuring performance and its components in a complex system. Some processes and systems use subjective methods such as individual contributor ratings, while others use objective methods such as a quantitative performance measurement system. With the increasing complexity of performing projects and other activities, the concept of ‘test and measurement’ has become a primary means of communication among the various disciplines of science and engineering.
As stated above, the use of test and measurement has not always been the same, though the philosophy behind this practice has been quite similar to the use of objective performance measurement. The problems with this approach have increased with the development of new scientific discoveries.
In order to address the challenges associated with test and measurement, the most appropriate approach would be to focus on the assessment performance rather than the measurement. This approach has become more prevalent as scientists and engineers have become more reliant on a large number of new technologies, and the resulting innovations have resulted in vast numbers of changes in the field of measurement.
As technology advances, the emphasis is shifting from objective data collection to the requirement for greater understanding of new scientific knowledge. Understanding this has helped to reduce the need for overly formal methods of performance measurement, which have been replaced by the more concise and easily understood methods of test and measurement.
It is my belief that we must come to grips with the fact that we have reached a place where both subjective and objective measures are needed. To the extent that we strive to provide equal opportunity for all performers, regardless of their scientific background, we have reached a place of great scientific knowledge and opportunity.
Many of us do not appreciate the necessity of testing in scientific information science. If I am not mistaken, a recent book by Keith Moore describes test and measurement as “an essential component of the process of discovery.” We have a choice, as a society, to accept this reality, or to continue to struggle against it.
In my opinion, the purpose of the scientific process is to solve problems and, while the problem solving aspects of science, such as the scientific method or the study of living organisms, will remain unchanged, the application of scientific methods will be altered by this shift in focus. A shift that can best be described as providing the necessary tool to create understanding and creativity within a narrow environment.
This statement of intent has been challenged by several practitioners and is contrary to the traditional view of scientific research, which has always viewed the scientific analysis as a descriptive method, where the ability to describe is seen as the primary challenge and methodology is defined in terms of the capability to describe. While descriptive methodology is still often the standard in scientific research, a much broader range of questions is being asked, resulting in the need for a much wider range of scientific approaches.
As technology continues to evolve, the task of adapting to these changes is becoming ever more challenging and often the assumption is that scientific process will always exist as the descriptive and universal approach. That is exactly what we need to reverse in order to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
In order to be successful in addressing the changes that are being created by the changing environment, we must find a means of meeting the challenges of a dynamic science and the challenge of achieving the excellence required by quality in the scientific process. In order to accomplish this, we must work together with those of other disciplines, as well as with the best quality assurance practitioners, and we must begin to embrace the changes.
Test and measurement will not return to its previous form. Its new, more focused and objective approach should be embraced, and we will all reap the benefits.