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Adaptable Process Model
Umbrella Task 3
Software Quality Assurance

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The complete Adaptable Process Model (APM) is provided for informational purposes and for assessment by potential users. The APM is copyrighted material and may not be downloaded, copied, or extracted for use in actual project work. The full hypertext (html) version of the APM may be licensed for use and customization within your organization. Contact R.S. Pressman & Associates, Inc. for complete licensing information.

Umbrella Task 3. Software Quality Assurance

U.3.1 Establish a Software Quality Plan for the project.

U.3.1.1 Assign SQA responsibilities to project staff and/or to a separate SQA organization.

U.3.1.2 Identify software engineering deliverables that will be evaluated for quality

U.3.1.3 Identify applicable standards, practices, conventions and measurements/metrics that will be adopted by the project team.

U.3.1.4 Define the 'deliverable set' for the project and define criteria for assessing quality for each deliverable.

U.3.1.5 Specify all SQA points throughout the software engineering process.

U.3.1.6 Define quality issues reporting scheme.

U.3.1.7 Define approach for formal technical reviews

See Tasks U.2.

Intent: The intent of this task is to develop a Software Quality Plan that identifies those activities to be conducted to ensure quality in deliverables produced in all CPF activities and software engineering tasks. The plan identifies both technical and management tasks. This task encompasses work performed as part of tasks U.3.2 through U.3.7 and work defined in SPM task U.1.14.

Mechanics: See Pressman, R.S., A Manager's Guide to Software Engineering, McGraw-Hill, 1993, Chapter 14 and IEEE Std. 730.1-1989.

Application of Formal Methods: none

Application of CASE Tools: t.b.d.

SQA Checklist: none

Do's & Don'ts

    Do: Recognize that many of Tasks U.3.1.1 through U.3.1.7 can be conducted once for an organization and then adapted to the specific needs of an individual project.

    Do: Address SQA explicitly as part of your planning.

    Do: Be sure to assign explicit responsibility for SQA tasks.

    Don't: Make SQA overly bureaucratic or people will subvert the process.

    Don't: Assume that SQA is the job of the independent SQA group. It's everyone's job.

Helpful Hints

The goal of SQA is to help a project team or an organization as a whole imporve its software process. It is for this reason that an independent SQA group (ISQA) and the software engineering team work together as a team, not as adversaries. It's important to instill this atmosphere.


1. Software Quality Assurance Plan (may be one section in the Project Plan for small projects)


U.3.2 Establish a quality function deployment (QFD) scheme.

An effective QFD scheme incorporates mechanisms for customer definition of requirements, forward and backward traceability of value throughout the software engineering process and into production use, quality management that may incorporate use of measurement and statistical techniques.

U.3.3 Establish validation criteria for the software to be produced or modified.

Once requirements for the work have been determined, the team should identify a set of validation criteria that answers the question, "how would we recognize a successful implementation of the software if it were delivered tomorrow." These criteria form the basis for test planning and also guide the review process.


U.3.4 Conduct reviews and other SQA activities as defined in Task U.3.1.

U.3.4.1 Collect quality metrics for all deliverables, based on the results of formal technical reviews.

U.3.4.2 Conduct standards compliance audits (if applicable) to ensure that all applicable standards have been met.

U.3.4.3 Initiate management/customer quality briefings to report on quality issues as they are encountered and reconciled.

U.3.4.4 Perform subcontractor monitoring to ensure that the subcontractor complies with the Software Quality Plan.

U.3.4.5 Update the project plan/risk mitigation, monitoring and management plan based on quality issues uncovered in other tasks.

Intent: The intent of this task is to conduct a series of SQA activities as deliverables are produced as part of the APM activities and tasks.

Mechanics: See Pressman, R.S., A Manager's Guide to Software Engineering, McGraw-Hill, 1993, Chapter 14.

Application of Formal Methods: walkthrough or inspection approach

Application of CASE Tools: t.b.d.

SQA Checklist:

    1. Is the team recording error data that include type and cause as well as cost to correct?

    2. Are audits conducted to ensure compliance with applicable standards and/or with the APM.

    3. Have SQA requirements been defined for subcontractors?

    4. Are SQA activities conducted according to plan?

    5. Does management respond the SQA recommendations in a timely manner?

Do's & Don'ts

    Do: Schedule SQA activities as part of the project plan.

    Do: Measure quality.

    Do: Conduct regular quality briefings to discuss what quality problems are being encountered and ways that quality can be improved.

Helpful Hints

Be sure that you initiate these quality activities as early in the project as possible. Do not wait until implementation activities to begin worrying about quality.


1. Quality metrics

2. Quality compliance reports

3. Quality improvement recommendations


U.3.5 Audit the software process to ensure that all quality issues have been addressed and (where necessary) corrected.

Audits should be conducted to ensure that all quality issues have been reconciled before transition to the next software engineering (CPF) task.

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