Improving the ROI of Software Quality Assurance Activities: An Empirical Study

Keywords Improving the ROI of Software Quality Assurance Activities: An Empirical Study quality assurance Review testing Process Audit.
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From the analysis in section 4.2, it would be beneficial if we put more effort on process audit too and this might even be more effective than review. The independent auditors check the process with a set of checklists for the Process Areas that refer to CMMI v1.2 [9]. The NCs found for Process Areas are shown in Table 9. We find that Project Monitoring and Control (PMC) and Project Planning (PP) take most part of the NCs. To get the further information from these NCs, we find that the main problem for PMC is that developers often neglect submitting their periodical reports in time. Main items of these reports include task completion ratio, planned and actual effort, problems or risks they encounter.

These reports are usually used by project manager to monitor developers’ task progress, identify risks and issues. However, missing these reports would blindfold eyes of the project manager, some critical risks or issues might be delayed to solve. By investigating the NCs related to PP, the most common
problem is that planned and actual effort displays a huge gap. Overestimating the task effort might lead to project delay, shorten the time for testing and lead to low quality product, while underestimates might lead to resource waste. The large proportion of NCs related to PP shows the weakness of the effort estimation for project planning. Further improvement would include creating guidelines for project effort estimation, adopting more systematic and professional effort estimation methods or tools, such as COCOMO tool to bridge the gap.

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Review, process audit, and testing are three main Quality Assurance activities during the software development life cycle. They complement each other to examine work products for defects and improvement opportunities to the largest extent. Understanding the effort distribution and inter-correlation
among them will facilitate software organization project planning, improve the software quality within the budget and schedule and make continuous process improvement. This paper reports some empirical findings of effort distribution pattern of the three types of QA activities from a series of incremental projects in China. The result of the study gives us some implications on how to identify
which type of QA activity is insufficient while others might be overdone, how to balance the effort allocation and planning for future projects, how to improve the weak part of each QA activity and finally improve the Return On Investment (ROI) of QA activities and the whole process effectiveness under the specific organization context.

Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg
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