Currently, if you are not on SQL Server 2019 and wanted to see an execution plan, you would attempt to dive into the execution plan cache to retrieve an estimated plan. Keep in mind that this just an estimated plan and the actual plan, while the shape should be the same, will have runtime metrics. These Actual runtime metrics could be, different than what is shown in the estimated plan, so it is important to get the actual whenever possible.
With the introduction of lightweight statistics, SQL Server can retain the metrics of the actual execution plan if enabled. Note that this could introduce a slight increase in overhead, however, I haven’t yet seen it be determinantal. These metrics are vastly important when performing query tuning.
Read on to see the specific set of metrics you can pull and how to do it. This does require SQL Server 2019.