Padmanabhan, Priya (2013). Software quality perceptions of stakeholders involved in the software development process. Doctoral dissertation (Information Systems & Technology Management), University of Texas at San Antonio.

Abstract: Software quality is one of the primary determinants of project management success. Stakeholders involved in software development widely agree that quality is important (Barney and Wohlin 2009). However, they may differ on what constitutes software quality, and which of its attributes are more important than others. Although, software quality models depict the broad concept of quality in terms of attributes related to the product and to the process followed to develop the product, few studies have empirically examined the software quality perceptions held by different groups involved in the software development process. We argue that if stakeholder groups, such as management and developers who are involved in the software development process, differ in their opinions about software quality, and if these differences are not known, success of a software development project may be in jeopardy. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to craft a socio-technical view of software quality, understand the diversity and similarities in the software quality perceptions, and investigate how the software development process can be improved to address the varied quality views of stakeholder groups. We combined case study technique with Q-methodology to provide rich contextual empirical evidence and insights about the stakeholders’ subjective impressions about software quality in the context of software development. We found that stakeholders recognized four viewpoints concerning software quality – attributes that are required to `protect business’, to enhance `end-user experience’, to make the product `marketable/sellable’, and those related to `software delivery’. The four software quality perceptions (SWQ) perceptions revealed differences and similarities in the importance of quality attributes assigned by the stakeholders. The differences and similarities were explained using Technological Frame of Reference Theory (Orlikowski and Gash 1994) and Perceptual Congruence Theory (Turban and Jones 1988) Finally, using Co-ordination Theory (Van de Ven et al. 1976) as the guiding framework, we found that several additional co-ordination mechanisms, both programming and feedback modes, could be incorporated in the SWD process to better address the varied SWQ perceptions of stakeholders.

Priya Padmanabhan <priya.padmanabhan@utsa.edu> received her doctorate from the Department of Information Systems & Technology Management, College of Business, University of Texas—San Antonio, TX (USA).

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