Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Software Quality Metrics

Software metrics can be classified into three categories: product metrics, process metrics, and project metrics. Product metrics describe the characteristics of the product such as size, complexity, design features, performance, and quality level. Process metrics can be used to improve software development and maintenance. Examples include the effectiveness of defect removal during development, the pattern of testing defect arrival, and the response time of the fix process. Project metrics describe the project characteristics and execution.

Examples include the number of software developers, the staffing pattern over the life cycle of the software, cost, schedule, and productivity. Some metrics belong to multiple categories. For example, the in-process quality metrics of a project are both process metrics and project metrics.

Software quality metrics are a subset of software metrics that focus on the quality aspects of the product, process, and project. In general, software quality metrics are more closely associated with process and product metrics than with project metrics. Nonetheless, the project parameters such as the number of developers and their skill levels, the schedule, the size, and the organization structure certainly affect the quality of the product. Software quality metrics can be divided further into end-product quality metrics and in-process quality metrics.

The essence of software quality engineering is to investigate the relationships among in-process metrics, project characteristics, and end-product quality, and, based on the findings, to engineer improvements in both process and product quality. Moreover, we should view quality from the entire software life-cycle perspective and, in this regard, we should include metrics that measure the quality level of the maintenance process as another category of software quality metrics.

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