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Software quality management techniques

SQM techniques can be categorized in many ways: static, people-intensive, analytical, dynamic.

Static techniques

Static techniques involve examination of the project documentation and software, and other information about the software products, without executing them. These techniques may include people-intensive activities or analytical activities conducted by individuals, with or without the assistance of automated tools.

People-intensive techniques

The setting for people-intensive techniques, including reviews and audits, may vary from a formal meeting to an informal gathering or a desk-check situation, but (usually, at least) two or more people are involved. Preparation ahead of time may be necessary. Resources other than the items under examination may include checklists and results from analytical techniques and testing. These activities are discussed in (IEEE1028-97) on reviews and audits.

Analytical techniques

A software engineer generally applies analytical techniques. Sometimes several software engineers use the same technique, but each applies it to different parts of the product. Some techniques are tool-driven; others are manual. Some may find defects directly, but they are typically used to support other techniques. Some also include various assessments as part of overall quality analysis. Examples of such techniques include complexity analysis, control flow analysis, and algorithmic analysis.

Each type of analysis has a specific purpose, and not all types are applied to every project. An example of a support technique is complexity analysis, which is useful for determining whether or not the design or implementation is too complex to develop correctly, to test, or to maintain. The results of a complexity analysis may also be used in developing test cases. Defect-finding techniques, such as control flow analysis, may also be used to support another activity. For software with many algorithms, algorithmic analysis is important, especially when an incorrect algorithm could cause a catastrophic result. There are too many analytical techniques to list them all here. The list and references provided may offer insights into the selection of a technique, as well as suggestions for further reading.

Other, more formal, types of analytical techniques are known as formal methods. They are used to verify software requirements and designs. Proof of correctness applies to critical parts of software. They have mostly been used in the verification of crucial parts of critical systems, such as specific security and safety requirements.

Dynamic techniques

Different kinds of dynamic techniques are performed throughout the development and maintenance of software. Generally, these are testing techniques, but techniques such as simulation, model checking, and symbolic execution may be considered dynamic. Code reading is considered a static technique, but experienced software engineers may execute the code as they read through it. In this sense, code reading may also qualify as a dynamic technique. This discrepancy in categorizing indicates that people with different roles in the organization may consider and apply these techniques differently.

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