Software Quality Management

Software Quality Fundamentals

Value and Costs of Quality

The notion of "quality" is not as simple as it may seem. For any engineered product, there are many desired qualities relevant to a particular perspective of the product, to be discussed and determined at the time that the product requirements are set down. Quality characteristics may be required or not, or may be required to a greater or lesser degree, and trade-offs may be made among them.

The cost of quality can be differentiated into prevention cost, appraisal cost, internal failure cost, and external failure cost.

A motivation behind a software project is the desire to create software that has value, and this value may or may not be quantified as a cost. The customer will have some maximum cost in mind, in return for which it is expected that the basic purpose of the software will be fulfilled. The customer may also have some expectation as to the quality of the software. Sometimes customers may not have thought through the quality issues or their related costs. Is the characteristic merely decorative, or is it essential to the software? If the answer lies somewhere in between, as is almost always the case, it is a matter of making the customer a part of the decision process and fully aware of both costs and benefits. Ideally, most of these decisions will be made in the software requirements process, but these issues may arise throughout the software life cycle. There is no definite rule as to how these decisions should be made, but the software engineer should be able to present quality alternatives and their costs.