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Towards a software quality certification of master data-based applications


Master data management (MDM) can provide an integrated and unified view of key business entities to offer better support in business processes. Due to the very nature of master data-based applications, it is possible to use data with the highest possible level of quality. MDM can help ensure that some common concerns, like duplicates or inconsistencies, are prevented by sharing a ‘single version of the truth’ throughout the organisation, and, in some cases, allowing collaborative updates to the master data repository. Therefore, assuring the reliability of master data-based applications, would improve the organisation efficiency. This type of application should implement a set of functional requirements covering the basic operation of MDM principles. We propose a solution based on the evaluation and certification of ‘functional suitability’ of MDM applications. As part of our proposal, we inferred a set of functional requirements from parts 100 to 140 of ISO 8000. This set will be used as a reference in the required matching to compute values for each one of the metrics, properties, subcharacteristics and ultimately, functional suitability following a bottom-up procedure. Finally, the paper also describes the application of the evaluation procedure of an existing master data-based application.

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This research is partially funded by Industrial PhD DIN2018-009705, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, GEMA: Generation and Evaluation of Models for dAta Quality (Ref.: SBPLY/17/180501/000293), DQIoT project (INNO-20171086 EUREKA Project No. E!11737), funded by CDTI, ECD project (PTQ-16-08504), funded by the ‘Torres Quevedo’ Program of the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, TESTIMO project (Consejería de Educación, Cultura y Deportes de la Junta de Comunidades de Castilla-La Mancha, and Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional FEDER, SBPLY/17/180501/000503), and ECLIPSE project (RTI2018-094283-B-C31) funded by Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities and FEDER funds.

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Correspondence to Fernando Gualo.

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A certification environment for software quality based on ISO 25010 and ISO 25040

The environment for evaluation and certification of the functional suitability in software product quality against ISO 25010 is presented by Rodriguez et al. in (2015, 2016). This environment is used to evaluate and certify that a software product meets the functional requirements, and therefore, fulfils the purpose for which it was created. According to, the environment has been used to certify more than 20 software products in different business areas: health, human resources, education, business intelligence, or risk management. However, this environment has not yet been used to certify MDM-based applications because of the specifics of this type of system, even an increasing demand of this service (Forrester 2019; Gartner 2018). This environment consists of a software quality model (which includes ‘functional suitability’ as introduced in ISO 25010 (ISO 2011a)), and an evaluation process based on ISO 25040 (ISO 2011b).

Functional suitability quality model

The software quality model contains the set of characteristics and subcharacteristics of the quality against which to evaluate a software product. As aforementioned, one of these software quality characteristics is ‘functional suitability’, which represents the ability of the software product to provide functions that meet the needs (stated and implied), when the product is used in specified conditions. This characteristic is split into the three following subcharacteristics:

  • ‘Functional completeness’ is the degree to which the set of functions covers all the specified tasks and user objectives.

  • ‘Functional correctness’ is the degree to which a product or system provides the correct results with the needed degree of precision.

  • ‘Functional appropriateness’ is the degree to which the functions facilitate the accomplishment of specified tasks and objectives.

In addition, each one of the characteristics is split into one or more properties (see Fig. 6) that are used to evaluate the characteristic, and each property uses several metrics in order to calculate the value of the property. These metrics were extracted from the systematic review purposed by Blanco et al. in (Blanco et al. 2012).

Fig. 6

Elements that compose the functional suitability quality model (extracted and adapted from (Rodríguez et al. 2016))

Functional suitability evaluation process

The evaluation process for software products certification needs the evaluation of the software quality characteristics. For the sake of the replicability and accuracy of the results, the evaluation process specified in ISO 25040 (ISO 2011b) is encouraged. The evaluation includes the five activities represented in Fig. 7.

Fig. 7

Activities of the evaluation process for functional suitability

The main goal of the first activity is to establish the requirements and scope for the evaluation. During this activity, there are several meetings with stakeholders to present the evaluation process, the evaluation needs, and to determine the main characteristics and documentation about the MDM-based application aim of the evaluation. Additionally, in this first activity, the set of functional requirements to be met by an MDM-based application compliance to ISO 8000 parts 100 to 140 is specified, and the functional requirements of the MDM-based application with this set of reference is mapped. In the second activity, the main goal is to specify the evaluation. The third activity is aimed at defining the goal and planning for the evaluation. The plan should consider available resources for the evaluation. In the fourth activity, the main goal is to execute the evaluation activities according to the evaluation plan. Finally, the fifth and last activities consist of issuing the report with the results of the evaluation. This result of the evaluation should be informed to the applicant of the evaluation and those interested in this final activity.

Given the importance of activity 4, it is worth to further describing its goal. The evaluation process is performed by following a bottom-up approach, which begins by calculating the metrics identified at the bottom of Fig. 6 (number of requirements, number of requirements implemented, number of requirements tested, and requirements for user type). Some of these values can be calculated based on the execution of customised testing cases. The possible values of all these metrics are normalised and they range [0,100]. The values of these metrics are used to compute the properties (e.g. functional implementation completeness) defined in the immediately higher level. The possible values of these properties are also normalised and range [0, 100]. Analogously, the value of the properties is used to calculate the value of the subcharacteristics (e.g. functional completeness). The value of the subcharacteristics is also normalised and range [0,100]. Finally, after calculating the subcharacteristic values, it is necessary to compute these results to obtain a value for the functional suitability. The procedure to compute the metrics to determine the quality level of each quality characteristic and the quality level for the evaluation of the functional adequacy of a software product are available in (Rodríguez et al. 2016). The quality level of functional suitability is represented on a level scale expressed in a range from 1 to 5, where 1 is the lowest level and 5 is the highest.

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Gualo, F., Caballero, I. & Rodriguez, M. Towards a software quality certification of master data-based applications. Software Qual J (2020).

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  • Master data management
  • Certification
  • Data quality management
  • ISO 8000
  • ISO 25010
  • Functional suitability