ISO9126 software quality attributes and characteristics

ISO 9126 is an international standard for the evaluation of software quality. It guarantees a uniform approach by defining a quality model. This model consists of 6 main groups of software quality characteristics. Each main characteristic has again sub characteristics.

  • Reliability: can we trust the performance of the application under given conditions and period of time
    sub characteristics: fault tolerance, recoverability, maturity
  • Usability: is the software easy to work with and can people easily learn to work with
    sub characteristics: learnability, operability, understandability
  • Efficiency: what is the relationship between the performance and time/resources
    sub characteristics: time behaviour, resource behaviour
  • Maintainability: can the software easily be modified
    sub characteristics: stability, testability, changeability, analyzability
  • Portability: can the software easily be transferred to another environment
    sub characteristics: adaptability, installability, conformance , replaceability

This standard is a framework for organizations to define a quality model for their software product. All sub characteristics have a set of attributes on their turn. Only attributes can be used to measure and verify the quality of software. When organizations put together their own model, they can choose which of the quality attributes to pay attention to.

Note that many of the quality attributes are non-functional. Very often testing activities are focused on the functional aspect. However attention should also be paid to the non-functional aspect, as that can become a huge risk once the software is live.

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