Software engineering: A quality management perspective

John McManus, Trevor Wood-Harper

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to examine the concept of quality related to the context of software development using the ISO, TickIT and CMM frameworks. The paper also seeks to stress the fact that the different perspectives of those involved in software development will influence how quality is seen and measured. In the context of software engineering projects, quality takes on a broad meaning that refers not only to the way in which companies manage software engineering projects, but also to the software development process itself. Design/methodology/approach - The approach and methodology adopted for this paper were a review of the literature and best practice in software engineering. It is argued that users of software systems are more interested in how easy the software is to use than in the underlying application code that is used to generate the system. Using the body of knowledge that is software quality the basic characteristics of software quality are described and compared in terms of quality standards such as ISO, TickIT and CMM. Each of these standards is decomposed further in order to clarify its usefulness. Findings - The findings in the paper suggest that, whilst there are many differences in the quality standards used, there are a number of similar characteristics. In essence the underlying philosophies of ISO and CMM have at the core the same goals. Some academics see CMM as being technically over-engineered; a CMM-compliant quality system is in many respects far in advance of ISO. Research limitations/implications - This paper helps define the strengths and weaknesses within ISO, TickIT and CMM from a software engineering practitioner perspective. Practical implications - The paper shows that software engineers need to pay more attention to the performance and conformance issues in software projects and to be proactive rather than reactive to quality issues. Originality/value - It may be argued that the importance of this paper lies in the assertion that those engaged in the software engineering are in need of a multi-perspective view on quality and, with that in mind, this paper should appeal to practitioners and members of the academic community with an interest in software quality. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)315-327
    Number of pages12
    JournalTQM Magazine
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


    • ISO 9000 series
    • Quality
    • Standards


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