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Understanding Quality Goals

April 2015 Presentation
David Gelperin (ClearSpecs Enterprises)

The software architect's challenge is to help developers understand quality attributes for project needs. Quality Assumption Reviews help meet this challenge.


Software Engineering Institute


Many developers have a shallow understanding of how to achieve quality goals such as safety, security, and availability. Even when architects have a deep understanding of this, developers' lack of awareness can still endanger product quality. The challenge is to help developers achieve an understanding of quality attributes adequate for project needs. Quality Assumption Reviews help to meet this challenge. Their goal is to synchronize understanding of quality attributes, how they differ from functions, and how they "work" by making quality assumptions visible. When such reviews precede quality goal identification (e.g., QAWs), they make it more effective. They are tactics to address what should be a short-term understanding deficit.

A "quality champion," such as an architect, lists a set of basic assumptions about qualities and their achievement. The list is distributed to the project team prior to review. Assumption discussions prior to review should be encouraged. During the review, the team discusses various assumptions and asks questions. Participants identify problems with assumptions or their statements. Team member experience and understanding of quality goals determines which assumptions need discussion.

This session will model a review of a comprehensive set of quality assumptions. A strategy for demonstrating the subsequent degree of quality understanding will also be described.