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Contractual, Legislative and Liability Aspects

24 January, 2014 | Post by SQA²

The SQA2 Blog: General

Software quality assurance (SQA) is by definition responsible for product conformance to REQUIREMENTS. SQA cannot undertake such a responsibility unless it participates in the contractual phase of software development. It has to approve both cost and technical proposals in the request for proposal phase. SQA’s approval on the cost proposal is vitally important. You must properly budget the SQA efforts. This helps to uphold its responsibility. You cannot under-budget the efforts in the contractual phase. It is better to invest three more months in the contractual phase than scrap a project after five years and face legal battles for the next decade.

Software engineering will approach systems engineering. Automating the process of implementation more and more. Future software engineering will be a massive dialogue between customer and supplier to reach a joint product specification. Major advances are being made in rapid prototyping and application generators to support the joint customer and supplier product specification phase. Software engineering is slowly approaching the stage of automatic code generation from specification also in the area of embedded computer systems. Though this was considered a virtual impossibility only a few years ago. The number one problem will be how the supplier would be able to understand what the customer wants. And how the customer would be able to ascertain that the supplier has understood what he wants. The future thrust of both in-house SQA and customer IVV&T shall be in the contractual specification phase.

In the near future, we have to address the issue of liability much more strictly. Liability shall not be only on a corporate basis, but in this author’s opinion there shall be personal liability for corporate management, project office management, software development management and SQA management. The issue is not about which software engineering method or tool is adequate but about personal responsibility. There shall be appropriate legislation in the criminal code to enforce the personal responsibility for safety critical projects. Lastly, we have to close the gap between legislation and the computer era.

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