Software Quality Management

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 project. The section explains software quality fundamentals, including the main SQM processes: quality assurance, verification, validation, review, and audit.

Verification & Validation

For purposes of brevity, Verification and Validation (V&V) are treated as a single topic in this Guide rather than as two separate topics as in the standard (IEEE12207.0-96). “Software V&V is a disciplined approach to assessing software products throughout the product life cycle. A V&V effort strives to ensure that quality is built into the software and that the software satisfies user requirements” (IEEE1059-93).

V&V addresses software product quality directly and uses testing techniques which can locate defects so that they can be addressed. It also assesses the intermediate products, however, and, in this capacity, the intermediate steps of the software life cycle processes.

The V&V process determines whether or not products of a given development or maintenance activity conform to the requirement of that activity, and whether or not the final software product fulfills its intended purpose and meets user requirements. Verification is an attempt to ensure that the product is built correctly, in the sense that the output products of an activity meet the specifications imposed on them in previous activities. Validation is an attempt to ensure that the right product is built, that is, the product fulfills its specific intended purpose. Both the verification process and the validation process begin early in the development or maintenance phase. They provide an examination of key product features in relation both to the product’s immediate predecessor and to the specifications it must meet.

The purpose of planning V&V is to ensure that each resource, role, and responsibility is clearly assigned. The resulting V&V plan documents and describes the various resources and their roles and activities, as well as the techniques and tools to be used. An understanding of the different purposes of each V&V activity will help in the careful planning of the techniques and resources needed to fulfill their purposes.

The plan also addresses the management, communication, policies, and procedures of the V&V activities and their interaction, as well as defect reporting and documentation requirements.