´╗┐ Software Quality Professional From the Editor - March 2001 - ASQ

Software Quality Professional From the Editor - March 2001


“What you can’t measure you can’t control.”

“We must present objective evidence.”

“Just the facts, ma’am.”

Sound familiar? A key principle of the quality profession is reliance on data, on verifiable factual information.

How many quality engineers, auditors, or process-improvement advisors would gain credence by saying “I just don’t have a good feeling about this”? By contrast, the professional ideal is to provide a factual basis for any judgments, to offer objective evidence for findings or recommendations.

This publication has sought to be data-driven in its decisions. That’s why we routinely ask for and examine feedback from our readers. Some of that feedback comes from our online surveys, and some comes in face-to-face settings, such as the excellent roundtable I hosted last autumn at the ASQ Software Division’s annual conference.

We have also taken advantage of the data-based ASQ Certified Software Quality Engineer (CSQE) program. A primary value of the CSQE is that it is built on extensive validation against actual practice. In fact, the body of knowledge is currently undergoing a full recalibration to ensure it continues to reflect the current state-of-the-practice.

One guideline for this journal has been to offer material that fully spans the CSQE body of knowledge. When we have not received submissions in certain areas - such as configuration management, verification and validation, or auditing - we have sought out contributors, and we will continue to do so.

However, not all subject areas are created equal. Not all are equally difficult to understand or apply, and not all are equally well represented in the professional literature. For whatever reason, it is now clear that certain subjects need additional special emphasis.

Let’s be data-driven here. The results of a year’s worth of CSQE exams show a distinct pattern.

Of the eight subject areas, the same three had the lowest success rate for both those who did and those who did not pass the overall exam. Interestingly, those three areas also showed the widest discrepancy between success rates. For instance, 67 percent of the software quality management questions were answered correctly by those who passed the exam (the lowest score in any section). That also marked the largest separation from the success rate (48 percent) of those who did not pass. Clearly, these subjects were the areas that differentiated those who had mastered the material from those who had not.

What is the content of these body-of-knowledge areas?

Software quality management addresses planning (including customer requirements, security, safety, and hazard analysis), tracking (including corrective action), and training.

Software processes covers development and maintenance methods, as well as process and technology change management.

Software metrics, measurement, and analytical techniques includes measurement theory, analytical techniques (such as statistical and graphical concepts), and measurement (of process, product, resources, quality attributes, defect detection effectiveness).

These are, objectively speaking, the subject-matter areas that need the most attention in developing the software quality profession. This journal will emphasize these topics in future issues. As appropriate, we might have a special theme section containing several related presentations.

In addition, the ASQ Software Division is supporting the development of special reprint collections that gather key papers from this journal and other ASQ conferences and publications. The first collection will be targeted at software quality management, processes, and measurement. Look for more details in your membership renewal notice.

Software Quality Professional relies on the experience of its editors, advisors, and reviewers. These individuals reflect a blend of theoretical understanding and practical experience. We have been fortunate to associate with many such professionals. I am now pleased to introduce the two newest additions to the journal’s Editorial Board.

Patricia A. McQuaid is an associate professor of management information systems at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. Her main interests include software process improvement, software project management, and software testing. She was the Americas program chair for the recent Second World Congress for Software Quality, where she was awarded one of the two “Best Presentation” recognitions. McQuaid has industry experience in information systems auditing in the banking and manufacturing industries and is a certified information systems auditor. She has earned both a doctorate and master’s degree in computer science and engineering from Auburn University, an MBA from Eastern Michigan University, and an undergraduate degree in accounting from Case-Western Reserve University. She has taught a wide range of courses in both the colleges of business and engineering. McQuaid is a Senior member of ASQ.

Fernando Brito e Abreu is currently lecturing at the Lisbon New University (Portugal) and E┤cole des Mines de Nantes (France). He is a researcher at INESC, a private nonprofit R&D organization and, since 1999, president of the Information Technologies Commission of the National Council for Quality. He has presented numerous tutorials, academic seminars, and training courses on topics such as quality principles, configuration management, testing, standardization and certification, process evaluation and improvement, and database systems. Brito e Abreu is author or co-author of more than 30 communications presented at international workshops, conferences, and symposiums and has contributed to numerous journals. His main current scientific interests include metrics, resource estimation models, software evolution and reengineering, object-oriented design, software project management, and process modeling. Brito e Abreu is the Portuguese representative on the Software Group of the European Organization for Quality.

Welcome to our newest partners, and welcome to you, whether a first-time reader or a long-time supporter. Let’s continue to develop a strong, data-driven profession.

I can be contacted at sqp_editor@asqnet.org

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