Software versus Hardware Quality

Article

Stewart, Nick P.   (1987, ASQC)   Rockwell International, Anaheim, CA

41st Annual Quality Congress, May 1987, Minneapolis, MN    Vol. 41    No. 0
QICID: 3336    May 1987    pp. 467-471
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Article Abstract

Software Quality and Hardware Quality share few corollaries. From the basic recognition of the need for the function, to such simple concepts as terminology to describe ones profession. Most people in the industry recognize the need for checks and balances in the production environment. But, even now in software, it is not uncommon to hear someone ask, "what is Software Quality Assurance?"

In hardware quality no one will assert that a product is correct if it does not match the drawing. However, in software the "prints" turn out to be volumes of English language words open to subjective interpretation. If the system happends to fail once in a while, it is probably due to some sort of "bug".

There seems to be no difficulty convincing manufacturing organizations that something is wrong if you are able to look at the object and identify a discrepancy. There is a proliferation of sophisticated devices for doing this, ranging from scales to gamma-graphs.

Problem identification in software is a bit more sticky. Software by its nature is not visible. You can't touch it, nor taste it. Problem identification and correction require different tools and techniques.

Software change control is another area which is treated differently. Once a hardware device is designed, the Configuration Mangement of that device comes under the control of an independent Change Control Board. This board is made up of representatives from numerous organizations other than the designers or builders.

In software however, design never stops. Its configuration is placed under formal control some time after acceptance test, another difference in the treatment of Software versus Hardware.

Keywords

Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM)


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