24 Jan Benefits of IV&V
For about twenty years I have been involved in Information Technology (IT) in both the public and private sectors. I have been a business analyst, a software tester, a test manager, and an independent verification and validation (IVV) manager. I have taught software quality assurance at a Washington DC University. And, I have been involved in the development of the two IEEE Standards that foster best practices in software verification and validation.
Verification and Validation
We initiate and manage software development projects. We develop and test software. We occasionally manage the software development life cycle based on the waterfall methodology or on rapid prototype methodology. However, what we seldom do are those things that lead to a stronger assurance that the software will pass testing more quickly and with fewer critical defects. All of those processes, activities and tasks designed to ensure the correctness and the rightness of software are called Verification and Validation.
Verification activities are those that determine if the software was developed correctly – according to the requirements and specifications. Validation activities are those that determine if the software is the correct software – that the software will do what the user/client needs it to do. Such activities may ensure the traceability of requirements from the system-level to the design to the test cases. The purpose of such tracing is to ensure that no high level requirements are lost
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and that no low level requirements are inadvertently added. Other verification activities may ensure the adequacy of the test plans, test design, test cases and test procedures. These activities, when done in a timely fashion, improve the quality of testing. No matter what the activities, the purpose of verification is to ensure that the development process does not move forward unless what is completed meets agreed upon standards.
User acceptance testing is a validation activity because this is the final determination of whether or not the application is the correct application – does it do what the user needs to have done. If system testing is based on user scenarios then it too may be considered a validation activity. There are those who believe that sub-system testing is a form of validation, especially if the sub-system independently can be assessed as meeting the criteria of correct application for
the user. For example, a sub-system that scans and stores information might be wrong for the user if it correctly scanned drawings and text but not photographs and the user needed it primarily for photographs.
Verification and validation activities support life-cycle processes and are most effective when conducted in parallel with software development activities. Verification and validation activities provide the evidence that the application complies with the requirements, satisfies standards, practices and conventions during the life cycle process, and establishes a basis for assessing the completion of each life cycle activity.
The benefits of verification and validation include early identification and correction of system/software errors, management insight into process and product risk, and compliance with program performance, schedule and
Independent or Not
Verification and validation activities may be executed by members of the development, test, QA, and management groups in conjunction with group specific activities. The activities may be executed by a designated V&V group. Or the activities may be executed by an independent V&V group. There are three factors that define the degree to which the verification and validation is independent. The factors are technical independence, managerial independence, and financial independence.
Technical independence requires the V&V effort to use personnel who are not involved the development process. The independent verification and validation effort must formulate its own understanding of the problems and how the application is solving the problem.
Managerial independence requires that the responsibility of the effort be vested in an organization separate from the development and program management organizations. Managerial independence requires that the IV&V effort independently selects the segments of the system/software to analyze and test, chooses the techniques, defines the schedule of IV&V activities, and selects the specific technical issues and problems to act upon. The IV&V group must be allowed to submit to program management, with restriction, its results, anomalies, and findings.
Financial independence requires that control of the VV&V budget be vested in an organization independent of the development organization. This independence prevents situations in which IV&V cannot complete its tasks in a timely fashion because funds have been diverted or adverse financial pressures have been exerted.
These parameters are typically combined to conform to one of these four models.
- Classical IV&V embodies each of the three parameters.
- Modified IV&V us used in many large programs where the system or prime integrator manages the entire development process including IV&V. Typically a separate IV&V budget is created and a separate staff is hired.
- Internal IV&V exists when the developer conducts the IV&V with personnel from within its own organization, although not necessarily those who are directly involved in the development effort. All three parameters are compromised.
- Embedded IV&V is similar to internal IV&V in that it uses personnel from the development
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organization. This model is focused on ensuring compliance with development processes and procedures. Even though this model allows for rapid feedback of V&V results into the development process, it compromises all of the parameters described above.
If you are one of those people who believe that it is appropriate for the housing inspector to be on the payroll of the housing developer, then you can skip to the last section. However if you believe in the independence of the housing inspector then you probably believe in the independence of verification and validation.