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Software product advanced certification and evaluation - user focus

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Designing product profile for user orientated quality

Businesses today rely on software products for their day-to-day practices. Of course, the quality of the software is a crucial element of business success. The SPACE-Ufo methodology was designed as a way of ensuring the quality of IT products, and it is the end-user's business needs, as well as fitness-for-use, that SPACE-Ufo upholds as its primary objectives.

Digital Economy

Until now, software quality was determined based on a process-oriented approach that unfortunately did not always meet the quality needs of the end user. Yet, users need to accurately determine software's fitness-for-use just as IT software manufacturers find it essential to prove their products' quality so as to obtain customer confidence. Also, manufacturers must prioritise the users' needs during the development stage in order to limit a product's time-to-market and reduce the number of software changes in releases so as to ultimately cut costs. In order to meet these market demands, a consortium of industry specialists from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Italy, and France designed the Software Product Advanced Certification and Evaluation-User Focus (SPACE- Ufo) Methodology. The SPACE-Ufo Methodology is concretely based on a user-oriented view on quality, “fitness-for-use”, that establishes IT quality specification and evaluation. This methodology works in a very comprehensive way. As the unique characteristics of each user, the business environment, and each distinct product profile determines the quality of user-oriented software, the SPACE-Ufo Methodology interpreted these factors into software quality requirements and evaluation criteria. In fact, this methodology has many benefits. It not only stresses the quality needs of the user and the specific business practices, it is also focused on business. Also, the methodology ascertains the quality requirements of the software in a repeatable manner, and it can be utilised as a consensus-building tool between manufacturers and users in terms of software quality. Furthermore, the SPACE-Ufo Methodology's focus on user needs extends to many specific quality techniques. The methodology involves structured interviews with the users so as to construct a systematic description of the environment of a software product. The next step is to build on this description by composing a Quality Profile, which prioritises a set of quality aspects of a software product. Then, by using this profile within a development environment, the developer selects specific measures. Finally, an evaluation strategy can be designed based on the quality profile. In essence, the SPACE- Ufo Methodology acts as a bridge that links the users and the software developers. This methodology allows the users to express themselves in their own specific business terms while the software developer can translate these ideas into distinct quality characteristics in the software product. Consequently, the developers can use the methodology to distinguish the different users and survey their diverse quality requirements. Ultimately, the SPACE- Ufo Methodology is advantageous to both the user and the software developer. By using this methodology and the techniques, tools and training materials that it encompasses, the users can evaluate the software's quality. Consequently, the users faces lower costs and fewer risks and experiences better fitness-for-use. On the other hand, by knowing what the user's quality needs are, software developers reduce costs incurred from numerous releases and longer time-to-market. All in all, the SPACE- Ufo Methodology can potentially benefit many market areas.

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