Santanu posted an interesting difference in the types of metrics in a software development process.
I agree that there are two types of metrics – Application Quality metrics and Development Process metrics
Application Quality metrics are the ones which evaluate an application from the perspective of coding practices, software engineering practices, design, architectural and security practices.
Development Process metrics on the other hand have been in use for some time and depending on the type of methodology organizations use CMM, ISO etc have common vocabularies established to discuss this.
I am specifically not including functionality in this conversation as that is a little bit more complex. And I believe these should be separate. To give an analogy – you could measure the quality of a car against various specifications and give it ratings but it may still not meet a car buyer’s needs. Similarly for the purpose of coming up with standard metrics to measure an application quality we should be able to separate application quality from a software’s ability to meet business needs.
There are some companies approaching this from multiple angles – like CAST Software with their Application Intelligence Platform, Coverity and Klocwork.
It will be interesting to see how these companies manage to create a common vocabulary to evaluate the quality of an application.
If you want to take a deep dive of how they do this there are a couple of resources -
Business value of Application Quality
Comparison of some tools – http://www.scribd.com/doc/4956513/trcis08003