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Some form of automated tool support is necessary to accomplish the SCSA data collection and reporting tasks. This could be a database capability, or it could be a standalone tool or a capability of a larger, integrated tool environment.

Software configuration status reporting

Reported information can be used by various organizational and project elements, including the development team, the maintenance team, project management, and software quality activities. Reporting can take the form of ad hoc queries to answer specific questions or the periodic production of predesigned reports. Some information produced by the status accounting activity during the course of the life cycle might become quality assurance records.

In addition to reporting the current status of the configuration, the information obtained by the SCSA can serve as a basis for various measurements of interest to management, development, and SCM. Examples include the number of change requests per SCI and the average time needed to implement a change request.

Software configuration auditing

A software audit is an activity performed to independently evaluate the conformance of software products and processes to applicable regulations, standards, guidelines, plans, and procedures. Audits are conducted according to a well-defined process consisting of various auditor roles and responsibilities. Consequently, each audit must be carefully planned. An audit can require a number of individuals to perform a variety of tasks over a fairly short period of time. Tools to support the planning and conduct of an audit can greatly facilitate the process.

The software configuration auditing activity determines the extent to which an item satisfies the required functional and physical characteristics. Informal audits of this type can be conducted at key points in the life cycle. Two types of formal audits might be required by the governing contract (for example, in contracts covering critical software): the Functional Configuration Audit (FCA) and the Physical Configuration Audit (PCA). Successful completion of these audits can be a prerequisite for the establishment of the product baseline. Buckley contrasts the purposes of the FCA and PCA in hardware versus software contexts, and recommends careful evaluation of the need for a software FCA and PCA before performing them.

Software functional configuration audit

The purpose of the software FCA is to ensure that the audited software item is consistent with its governing specifications. The output of the software verification and validation activities is a key input to this audit.

Software physical configuration audit

The purpose of the software physical configuration audit (PCA) is to ensure that the design and reference documentation is consistent with the as-built software product.

In-process audits of a software baseline

As mentioned above, audits can be carried out during the development process to investigate the current status of specific elements of the configuration. In this case, an audit could be applied to sampled baseline items to ensure that performance is consistent with specifications or to ensure that evolving documentation continues to be consistent with the developing baseline item.

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Source:  OpenStax, Software engineering. OpenStax CNX. Jul 29, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10790/1.1
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