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A Method for Assessing Technical Progress and Quality Throughout the System Life Cycle

November 2009 Technical Note
Robert Ferguson, Summer C. Fowler, Rita C. Creel

This 2009 paper provides a framework for evaluating a system from several perspectives for a comprehensive picture of progress and quality.


Software Engineering Institute

CMU/SEI Report Number


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Project managers are responsible for numerous decisions affecting systems under their purview. To make these decisions and effectively manage projects, they need methods for quantifying technical progress and quality and identifying issues early in the project life cycle. Typically, information is obtained through reviews, which provide information on risks, problems, and work completed to date. However, these reviews are generally aimed at identifying problems within isolated components or artifacts. They often fail to expose problems related to the end-to-end system or the underlying, systemic issues that led to them. 

The technical assessment method introduced in this paper addresses these shortfalls by providing a framework for evaluating a system from several perspectives, or views, for a comprehensive picture of progress and quality. It also describes a structured approach that customers and developers can use to measure progress at each review. A graphical indicator is introduced that clearly depicts technical progress and quality, enabling those involved with the project to make informed decisions to mitigate problems and reduce quality risks. 

The results of applying this method to a software acquisition program are presented and an assessment of the effectiveness of the method is made. Recommendations for future use and study are also provided.