Defining Software Quality and Economic Value
This book deals with two topics that have been ambiguous and difficult to pin down for many years: software quality and economic value.
The reason for the ambiguity, as noted in the Preface, is that there are many different points of view, and each point of view has a different interpretation of the terms. For example, software quality does not mean the same thing to a customer as it does to a developer. Economic value has a different meaning to vendors than it has to consumers. For vendors, revenue is the key element of value, and for consumers, operational factors represent primary value. Both of these are discussed later in the book.
By examining a wide spectrum of views and extracting the essential points from each view, the authors hope that workable definitions can be established that are comparatively unambiguous.
Software quality, as covered in this book, goes well beyond functional quality (the sort of thing to which customers might react to in addition to usability and reliable performance). Quality certainly covers these aspects but extends further to nonfunctional quality (how well the software does what it is meant to do) and to structural quality (how well it can continue to serve business needs as they evolve and change as business conditions do).
Why Is Software Quality Important?
Computer usage in industrial countries starts at or before age 6, and by age 16 almost 60% of young people in the United States have at least a working knowledge of computers and software. Several skilled hackers have been apprehended who were only 16 years of age.
The approximate population of the United States in 2010 was about 309,800,135 based on Census Bureau estimates. Out of the total population about 30% use computers daily either for business purposes or for recreational purposes or both; that is, about 92,940,040 Americans are daily computer users.
About 65% of the U.S. population use embedded software in the form of smart phones, digital cameras, digital watches, automobile brakes and engine controls, home appliances, and entertainment devices. Many people are not aware that embedded software controls such devices, but it does. In other words, about 201,370,087 U.S. citizens own and use devices that contain embedded software.
Almost 100% of the U.S. population has personal data stored in various online databases maintained by the Census Bureau, the Internal Revenue Service, state governments, municipal governments, banks, insurance companies, credit card companies, and credit scoring companies.
Moving on to business, data from various sources such as Forbes, Manta, Business Week, the Department of Commerce Bureau of Labor Statistics, and others reports that the United States has about 22,553,779 companies (as of the end of 2010). Of these companies about 65% use computers and software for business operations, retail sales, accounting, and other purposes—so about 14,659,956 U.S. companies use computers and software. (Corporate software usage ranges from a basic spreadsheet up to entire enterprise resource planning [ERP] packages plus hundreds of other applications.)
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