How do you understand the term software quality? Is it how well it runs, how neat is the code or how much money it makes for you? Whatever the case may be, you’re not wrong.
It is hard for most of us to even imagine our lives without software. It has permeated all aspects of our being as modern people. We use it for work, entertainment, communication and so much more. That’s why software quality matters so much, so much relies on it after all. With that in mind, we need to understand what the term entails.
Software quality is different from product quality in the manufacturing sector. The goal of quality in manufacturing is minimizing defects, but software development projects require some innovation along with that.
What’s crucial to note is that there is no one correct way to think about software quality. There are a lot of definitions of software quality. According to the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB), software quality is the totality of functionality and features of a software product that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs.
To get to the bottom of software quality, it is helpful to focus on three groups of people who are involved in software quality during and after the development process: the software users, the development team, and the sponsors of the project. Each party has certain aspects that they value above others which is why the term software quality can seem so vague. For some, a quality project is one that runs without any errors, while for others it would be an extensive feature list.
Because of such differences in perception, three subsets of quality have been defined. They are as follows:
Each one illustrated a different perspective but all three are crucial. If a project successfully meets all of these criteria then it can be considered a high-quality software project. Let’s look at each component in more detail.
Functional quality means that the software correctly performs the specified tasks it is meant to do for its users.
The following are the aspects of functional quality:
A project can hardly be successful at all if it doesn’t do its job. It must be able to perform the tasks that were specified at the planning stage. It’s arguably the most important metric there can be to measure software quality. Sometimes the requirements change during the course of development or in certain cases be only implied. The end product should reflect that. The developer must understand what the end-user experience will be like and deliver the best possible solution according to the demands of the sponsor.
To do that the system must be bug-free. Rigorous software quality testing is a crucial element of a high-quality software product. Check out this article to learn more about the software testing life cycle.
Performance is the next thing all users notice. If an app is slow it doesn’t matter how well it performs its functions. Every second can be the difference between a person using your software and abandoning it forever.
The same can be said about the general accessibility of your project. When launching a calculator, you shouldn’t spend minutes trying to figure out how to multiply numbers. A good piece of software is one that you can pick up and quickly understand what you need to do to complete your task.
This aspect implies that the code itself is well-written and organized. Unlike the previous category, it’s harder to test the elements of structural quality.
These are the aspects of structural quality:
Quality assurance and testing are the prerequisites of a good software project. To make the job of the QA-team possible, the code needs to actually be testable. This means that the code should have components that are individually testable and have all the required dependencies.
Maintainability is crucial for any scalable project. You need to be able to change and add upon the existing code without introducing any new bugs.
To be able to do that easily, the code must be readable. This implies a large number of comments left in the development process describing what each component does. This greatly helps when there are multiple people working on the same project or you need to return to your code in order to change something. This way you can find what you need easier and you’ll never forget why a certain line of code is there in the first place.
Code efficiency directly impacts the performance and how much resources the program requires. If the code is bloated with unnecessary components and redundant elements it will reflect on both the testing difficulty and the user experience.
Last but by no means least is code security. You need to make sure there is no possibility of data leaks, buffer overruns or SQL injections. Vulnerable software can never be called high-quality no matter how you put it.
Process quality is perhaps the most important aspect of the three to sponsors and clients. It is responsible for the way the project is delivered and is just as critically important. The quality of the development process greatly affects the way users and the development team see the value of the product.
The aspects of process quality include:
Meeting deadlines is a quality indicator in all areas of our life, not just software development. However, it’s not always as easy as doing your job responsibly. There are many factors that can delay the delivery of the project. This can include everything from a system crash erasing hours of work to a global pandemic halting business across the world. While it’s hard to predict such events, it’s a good practice to save some extra time in your estimates that can be spent on recovery from a force-majeure event.
Budgets are similar to deadlines in a lot of ways. Just like they require developers to stay within specified boundaries, they can also be exceeded. Less experienced teams can face many problems when they have given a wrong estimate and have run out of money.
All of that can be mitigated if the developers have a good and repeatable SDLC. It stands for Software Development Life Cycle and describes their entire work process. Having successfully completed a project isn’t enough. A team must log everything they have did right and wrong in order to fine-tune their process to ensure the same high quality of software on a consistent basis.
Take a moment to think about what is software quality for you. On the one hand, quality software is software that meets your requirements; on the other hand, requirements very often change during the development process. Customer satisfaction should be a result of delivering a quality product despite changing conditions.
The software must meet appropriate standards and be delivered on time and within budget. It is equally important that the interface is beautiful and comfortable to use. The software must work reliably and accurately in its intended manner, and it must also be supported and maintained.
In short, software quality means how well software helps solve real business problems.