Cross player comparison
I'm a law student. One of the fundamental things I've learned is that like cases with similar circumstances should have like judgments. Taking that philosophy and applying it to WoW for a moment, I tend to use a lot of relativity to gauge healers. Gauging healers is not a one day affair. It's something that requires multiple parses to read effectively. Unlike for DPS players, healers don't exactly have a Patchwerk test they can call their own. Mimiron's phase 2 is the closest thing to a healing test so far that I can see. The ideal test is an encounter which deals an incredible amount of raid wide damage.
So let's use a real world example. Let's compare my performance with that of another Discipline Priest. When you're doing a direct comparison, you want to try to minimize as many variables as possible. Analyze the same fights. Use the same classes and specs. Try to match up the times as best as possible. A fight that takes player A 10 minutes to do versus a fight that takes player B 15 minutes to do is one case. Player B is going to have to cast more spells resulting in more healing.
Now we look at both players individually to see what they're doing.
Here's my parse again followed by that of a different Discipline Priest. The encounter we're both looking at is strictly Mimiron. My parse is on top, Disc Priest two is on the bottom. We'll refer to her as Andromeda.
The first thing your eyes are going to cue in on is the numbers on the bottom row. Those are a summary of totals (or averages depending on what you're looking at).
I got dominated. That's probably what you're thinking. You're absolutely right. Andromeda's healing done is increased by by 50% in the totals.
Well why is that? Let's say gear is not a factor and that we're both packing Tier 8 four piece sets.
The most glaringly obvious differences are spells cast! I trounce Andromeda in shields used. We're roughly the same on Penance. The biggest factor is Prayer of Healing. Andromeda has it hit 66 times.
I did 3.
More Prayer of Healing casts means higher chances of Divine Aegis procs as well. This confirms it. Andromeda's Divine Aegis procs 115 times versus my 51.
Glyphs can make a huge difference over the long run. I was chatting with a colleague in a comparison between two Resto Shamans. One had Healing Stream as a glyph and the other didn't. The effectiveness was clear as night and day. In this case, I used a wrong spec that didn't have Glyph of PW:S while Andromeda's did.
I mentioned it earlier but I wanted to reiterate it again. The duration in fights is another factor you want to consider. In this case, the Mimiron kill I was in took ~10 minutes. Andromeda's took 12. The longer it takes, the more spells that have to go off.
What these pages don't show you is player deaths. Our Mimiron kill was flawless. We didn't lose a player (thanks to the phase 4 nerfs mostly). Andromeda's raid lost 10 players throughout the fight. If another healer dies, every other healer has to pick up the slack.
I'm extremely liberal with my shield use. Note the averages between Andromeda's parse and my own. My shield average was 2233. Hers was 4477. Why is that number so large? Just because I cast a shield on a player doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be consumed entirely. Andromeda stayed on target on her tank at all times. I deviated often (and shield clothies like mad so they don't die). Sometimes my shields will simply wear off and not activate even though I did cast them.
When you're reading healing meters, you're essentially looking at a painting that can be interpreted in multiple ways. What you will see is a full breakdown of what happened. Context is especially important. You know what happened. But you have to understand why it happens. Before you can make adjustments to your healers, you need to know what they're doing and their reasoning behind it.
In this case, we have a paranoid, raid preserving Discipline Priest followed by a strictly devout, tank healing Discipline Priest. In both cases, Mimiron was downed with varying casualties (clean versus messy).
It takes a lot of practice to read healing parses and to understand what they say. Hopefully this will help give you some pointers and some things to think about!
Want some more advice for working with the healers in your guild? Raid Rx has you covered with all there is to know! Looking for less healer-centric raiding advice? Take a look at our raiding column Ready Check.