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Software quality assurance

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Software Quality Assurance (SQA) consists of a means of monitoring the software engineering processes and methods used to ensure quality. It does this by means of audits of the quality management system under which the software system is created. These audits are backed by one or more standards, usually ISO 9000.

It is distinct from software quality control which includes reviewing requirements documents, and software testing. SQA encompasses the entire software development process, which includes processes such as software design, coding, source code control, code reviews, change management, configuration management, and release management. Whereas software quality control is a control of products, software quality assurance is a control of processes.

Software quality assurance is related to the practice of quality assurance in product manufacturing. There are, however, some notable differences between software and a manufactured product. These differences stem from the fact that the manufactured product is physical and can be seen whereas the software product is not visible. Therefore its function, benefit and costs are not as easily measured. What's more, when a manufactured product rolls off the assembly line, it is essentially a complete, finished product, whereas software is never finished. Software lives, grows, evolves, and metamorphoses, unlike its tangible counterparts. Therefore, the processes and methods to manage, monitor, and measure its ongoing quality are as fluid and sometimes elusive as are the defects that they are meant to keep in check.