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Software Quality Management (SQM) is the process of ensuring that software products meet the required standards and fulfill user expectations through techniques like quality planning, quality control, and quality assurance.

In the hands of adept software quality managers, each software undergoes a thorough, cyclical, process-based assessment before hitting the market. Software quality managers are champions in identifying and resolving glitches, ensuring the software functions flawlessly for users. Beyond just technical finesse, their role extends to advocating for and embedding a culture of product quality across the organization.

Why is Software Quality Management Important?

Crafting software that meets and exceeds end-user quality standards is the goal of SQM. It's a strategic approach, balancing user expectations with necessary regulatory and development norms. Implementing Software Quality Management will result in some very crucial benefits:

  • Increased customer satisfaction: The goal of quality management is to satisfy customers by delivering software that meets or exceeds their expectations and focuses on their needs. You may improve customer happiness, foster trust, and boost client retention by ensuring high-quality software.
  • Cost Savings: Over time, investing in quality management methods can result in cost savings. Early defect detection and fixes decrease development problems, eliminate expensive rework, and reduce the need for in-depth customer support or post-release maintenance.
  • Better Efficiency: Process standardization, automation, and continuous improvement are quality management techniques that can make software development procedures more effective. You may improve resource utilization and increase production by optimizing operations, lowering manual work requirements, and eliminating waste.
  • Improved Reliability: Quality management procedures ensure the software is dependable and works as expected. You can find and fix bugs through careful testing, validation, and verification, ensuring the program works as intended, satisfies performance standards, and provides users with the value they expect.
  • Mitigated Risks: Quality management helps to reduce risks around the creation and use of the software. You can identify potential risks early and take the necessary steps to reduce their impact on the project by performing risk assessments, creating quality assurance procedures, and monitoring key metrics.
  • Continuous Improvement: Quality management promotes a culture of continuous development both inside the development team and throughout the organization. You can find places for improvement, spark innovation, and raise the overall quality of your software by routinely reviewing procedures, getting feedback, and putting what you've learned into practice.

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Software Quality Management Activities

SQM has three main activities: software quality assurance, quality planning, and quality control. Let’s take a more in-depth look at each of them.

Quality Assurance

Quality assurance is a methodical quality management activity where you decide whether a service or product will satisfy a customer's wants and standards.

In quality assurance, you create and uphold the requirements for making products you can count on. You may boost client confidence to new heights with a suitable quality assurance system while improving how effectively you manage your job.

Quality assurance differs from quality engineering: While quality assurance focuses on process-oriented activities to ensure quality standards, quality engineering takes a more proactive approach, integrating quality practices into the software development life cycle to prevent defects and enhance performance.

Quality Planning

This phase is where the blueprint for achieving the desired software quality is laid out. It involves setting specific quality goals, defining relevant standards, and determining the necessary processes and resources to meet them.

Quality Planning isn't just about ticking boxes for compliance; it's a strategic exercise that aligns the software's quality objectives with the user's needs and organizational goals.

In this stage, every decision, from choosing the right tools and techniques to outlining the metrics for quality evaluation, is crucial. It sets the stage for the entire quality management process, ensuring that every subsequent step, from development to deployment, adheres to a well-thought-out quality framework.

Quality Control

Ensuring top-notch quality in software development isn't just a one-department show. It's a collaborative effort where the Quality Control department plays a key role. They rigorously test and evaluate software at various development stages, adhering strictly to quality assurance standards. To maintain unbiased checks, it's crucial to keep this testing independent from the development team.

Project managers on the development side aren't just bystanders; they actively contribute to fostering a culture of cooperation, emphasizing learning over blame when issues arise. In companies adopting Agile methodologies, these processes might take a less formal turn. However, a seamless transition from traditional quality management to Agile practices requires careful adjustments in management procedures to avoid potential hiccups.

Incorporating agile software development tools plays a pivotal role in enhancing quality control by enabling rapid iterations and continuous feedback integration.

Quality control activities consist of:

  • Examining the software and related documentation for standards compliance during release testing, including proper documentation of the software testing methods
  • Reviewing the software again to make sure that any modifications needed after the initial testing have been made
  • Using metrics and software measurement for evaluation

Software Quality in the Software Development Life Cycle

The quality of the software can be achieved using many methods, depending on the organization and type of software project being developed. This is achieved by supporting the full software development process, which involves:

  • Gathering requirements and defining the scope of the project, with a focus on assessing whether the defined requirements can be tested;
  • Designing the solution with an emphasis on test process planning, such as which types of tests will be run and how they will be executed in terms of test environments and test data;
  • Creating a solution consisting of test cases, test case execution, and defect reporting;
  • Implementing change management with a focus on verifying how planned changes can affect the final solution;
  • Executing tests that thoroughly verify the overall quality of the solution.

Software Quality Management Standards (SQMs)

The International Standards Organization (ISO) develops internationally recognized standards that companies can use to prove their compliance with the best practices in the industry.

  • ISO 9001: The ISO 9000 family of quality management system standards, which consists of five different standards, aids businesses in ensuring that they satisfy the expectations of customers and other stakeholders while also adhering to legal and regulatory requirements for a given good or service. The requirements for ISO 9001 certification cover every aspect of your business, including your mission statement, scope, quality policies, goals, and targets for reducing customer complaints, among other things.
  • ISO/IEC 9126: The principal goal of the ISO/IEC 9126 standard is to address human biases that can negatively affect the delivery and perception of a software project. These biases include redefining "success" or shifting priorities after the project has already begun. To create a shared understanding of the project's aims and goals, ISO/IEC 9126 clarifies, then agrees on, the project priorities before translating abstract priorities (compliance) into quantifiable values (output data may be tested against a schema without any intervention). The approaches on which this standard focuses are portability, maintainability, efficiency, usability, reliability, and functionality.
  • ISO/IEC 25010: This standard is used in software engineering and production to guarantee a consistent level of quality. The 2011 version of ISO/IEC 25010 includes eight key characteristics. It includes the same six components as ISO/IEC 9126 and provides security and compatibility.

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By Andreea Draniceanu

Hi there! My name is Andreea, I’m a software test engineer based in Romania. I’ve been in the software industry for over 10 years. Currently my main focus is UI test automation with C#, but I love exploring all QA-related areas 😊