Although the type of quality measurements are highly dependent on the context, the studies of general information needs of software practitioners can still be valuable offering guidance what information is used more often than other information.
Buse and Zimmerman (2012) surveyed the information needs of 110 software managers and developers at Microsoft. They found that the most used information is failure information, e.g. reports of software crashes and other problems, and bug reports which are used by roughly 75% of managers and developers. Additionally, many type of other information is used (or would be used if it was available) such as readability of code, expertise mapping of engineers, test coverage, predicted defect density, see Figure 1. What can be seen from the figure is that majority of the information is used by less than 50% of developers and managers, which suggests that context highly affects what information is used and available.
Figure 1. Relevant information for developers and managers at Microsoft (Buse and Zimmerman 2012)
International quality standards give well thought taxonomy of software quality characteristics and provide standard measurements for evaluating the quality characteristics. For example, the ISO/IEC 25010 standard (successor of the often used 9126) describes five characteristics of quality in use (stakeholders’ viewpoint to quality in interaction with the system) see Figure 2, and eight software product quality characteristics and their sub characteristics, see Figure 3. Quality standards provide a good definitions and common terminology for discussing the often vague and subjective topics of software quality. Standards can also be applied as a checklist and starting point for setting quality goals and creating measurement program in a specific context. However, the standards cannot define what are the exact quality goals, or requirements, for a specific system, or what are the priorities of different quality characteristics. Once the quality requirements are defined, the standards often include a set of typical measurements for measuring the quality characteristics. This can be helpful, but once again, the exact measurements that work in a specific environment, development process, and technology platform will probably vary.
Figure 2. ISO/IEC 25010 Quality in Use Characteristics
Figure 3. ISO/IEC 25010 Product Quality Characteristics
Buse, R., T. Zimmermann. “Information needs for software development analytics.” In Software Engineering (ICSE), 2012 34th International Conference on, pp. 987-996. IEEE, 2012.